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Cr Greg McKeown -Transport Committee Chairman

Cr Greg McKeown
Transport Committee Chairman

2pm, 5 July 2003

Official opening of the Britomart Transport Centre

The first mode of transport to reach this shoreline was a waka – a great Maori canoe. It is fitting that Ngati Whatua have described Britomart as a canoe.

Britomart is “He waka eke noa, a canoe on which everyone may embark.”

Inga iwi
Inga mana
Inga reo
Tena koutau
Tena koutau
Tena koutau katoa

Hon Paul Swain, Mayor Banks, special guests of honour Sir Edmund and Lady Hillary, and distinguished guests, a very warm welcome.

It is my pleasure and an honour to say a few words on behalf of Auckland City councillors, the chief executive and his staff.

It is a great day. After more than a decade of discussion and work, rail is back in downtown Auckland. It is good news to see the vision realised.

There are three simple questions to be addressed …
How important is this?
Where are we going?
Who should we thank?

How important is this?

Britomart will prove to be as important to the Auckland region as the harbour bridge.

Early in the building phase excavations uncovered remains of the former Gore Street jetty and foundations of the old railway station. The site has a great transport and commercial history, and this continues today.

First and foremost, Britomart is a transport centre with a spectacular rail station at its heart. Britomart is a place that connects people with trains, buses and ferries.

Currently only 5% of the trips undertaken in the region are on public transport. We must continue our efforts to grow this figure by providing sustainable, accessible, affordable and convenient transport options.

We’ve turned up the dial on completing the region’s roading network – but roads alone are not the full solution.

The Government has purchased Auckland’s rail corridors with a clear view that a modern rail service must be developed. The rail corridors provide a valuable route for travelling on the isthmus and long distances across the Auckland region, and so with Government we must build the infrastructure and build the service.

And on the North Shore the busway is moving ahead. All of these initiatives connect at one point, Britomart.

Consequently Britomart is important … very important. It is a cornerstone investment in building a better transport system for today’s and future generations.

Where are we going?

Britomart will prove to be as important to the Auckland region as the harbour bridge.

Just as the bridge’s success is reliant on an efficient complementary motorway system, similarly we must develop a regional rapid transit system around Britomart and around the region.

We must upgrade existing rail infrastructure - tracks, stations and signalling systems - and provide fast and frequent train services with priority. We must dovetail complementary bus and ferry services and develop new timetables and improved ticketing.

But these above-mentioned steps are now givens. They’ve been decided and now we must ramp up their implementation.

We’re setting our sights further ahead. Both an underground tunnel through the CBD and a new line on the isthmus are on the radar. We want to connect more people to more places around the region.

Regional transport investments like these are capacity-building steps that will influence how Auckland grows.

Well-planned growth in town centres around selected rail stations, with more forward-thinking urban design, will offer an alternative to continued suburban sprawl and in-fill housing.

The opening of Britomart offers the opportunity for Aucklanders to reflect how transport infrastructure can contribute to quality urban living and influence the physical, social and economic shape of our city.
Like the town hall, the museum and other great assets, these investments are as much for our future generations as they are for us. Standing in the future certainly provides a stimulus to do things once and do them well.

Finally, who should we thank?

Quite simply everyone involved.

Many people and organisations deserve high praise for their contribution to the conception, design and completion of Britomart.

Auckland City thanks its partners who have helped bring this major project to fruition.

Listing everyone would be an impossible task. I’ll choose just three.

Firstly the main contractor Downer, especially for the hard graft over the last month under very tough conditions. This has been an out-of-the-ordinary and challenging project for Auckland’s construction industry.

Secondly Kevin Pei Hopa, the guard on the main gate and site entry at Britomart Place. He’s been here every working day but one, from the start of construction to today. His efforts epitomise the attitudes and commitment of the entire Britomart workforce. They’ve worked hard with a proud ethic. It has always been about doing a great job. So Kevin Pei Hopa and all people like you, the committed workers who have built this station, thank-you. Your work is greatly appreciated by the Auckland City Council.

And thirdly, our thanks to the people of Auckland who have supported this project. Britomart belongs to Aucklanders and today this magnificent building becomes your front door to the station and to the region. We’re handing over the keys to you on St Christopher’s day – the patron saint of travellers – and that bodes well for us all.

On behalf of Auckland City I wish everyone a safe journey into the future.

© Scoop Media

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