Wellington Scoop

The local people know that the memorial park can’t have a road cutting it in two

The people of Mt Cook know what needs to be done to make the long-postponed Buckle Street Memorial Park a success. The best solution, they say, is to trench and cover Buckle Street, so that the park can connect with the National War Memorial.

Their “strongly voiced … desire” for the road to be taken underground is reported in this month’s newsletter from Mount Cook Mobilised.

They are right, of course. It is ridiculous to plan a Memorial Park which is separated from the War Memorial by State Highway One.

But the crazy idea of keeping a road running through the park seems to be the thinking of the New Zealand Transport Authority, which is supposed to be starting consultation with 30 local groups not only about plans for the park but also about new ideas (including a flyover) for roads round the Basin Reserve.

Mount Cook Mobilised explains why the highway should be put into a covered trench so that the park can connect with the War Memorial:

this would create a park that honours and pays respect to the sacrifices made in the past, and also provide a strong focal point both for national and community activity and celebration. Moreover, the existence of a roadway through what could become an iconic national commemorative area would be undesirable.

The Mount Cook people are obviously given to under-statement. And they choose their words carefully as they explain another reason why they are concerned:

The community of Mount Cook … is uneasy at the current compromise that involves closing Buckle Street for commemorations. The resulting congestion would undoubtedly impact the rest of the suburb.

Then they quote the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Chris Finlayson, as wanting the park to be “the best by world standards.” This would be a forlorn hope if it’s a park with a main road cutting it in two.

Last May, Mr Finlayson’s Ministry was preparing plans to landscape the desolate area that’s being kept for the park. Ten months later, nothing has been done. Temporary wire fences surround the empty spaces. The government is in no hurry for the park to be created, and thus the people of Mount Cook have more time to campaign for how they want their suburb to be developed. They are right to fight for the state highway to be put underneath the memorial park.

The road could then continue under Tory Street into the cut-and-covered roadway that’s been proposed by the Architectural Centre with its wonderfully creative plan to transform the area round the Basin Reserve. (And to avoid a flyover.)

It seems the Transport Agency stands alone in wanting to keep these Wellington roads above ground.


  1. Allan Probert, 20. February 2010, 17:18

    I struggle to understand why the views of the local community are not given more weight in a situation like this that will directly affect them and also they are the ones who best understand these effects. NZTA needs to be more open with its information and its consultation process-I have found that there are many intelligent people in the community with good ideas who would like to contribute to their community yet both NZTA and WCC seem uneasy about a bit of local democracy. Kent’s articles on this and the flyover should be compulsory reading as they are clear, logical and compelling. Lets get this road under ground!@!

  2. jp, 21. February 2010, 15:19

    Cut and cover tunnels under Buckle St and the Basin Reserve. Simple.

  3. Maria van der Meel, 22. February 2010, 23:07

    Before we forget: in the sixties, the urban motorway not only destroyed 50 hectares of heritage buildings and land in Thorndon, but also cut through the Bolton Street Cemetery, overturning 3,700 graves to progress the motorcar. Seven hundred of these were Wellington’s pioneers.

  4. Sarah, 19. April 2010, 12:58

    is this the area that is claimed by ‘skaters’?