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Public Meeting in Kapiti Questions Expressway

ASK - Alliance for Sustainable Kapiti
20 August 2010
For immediate release

Public Meeting in Kapiti Calls Expressway into Question

In a clear sign of mounting opposition to NZTA's planned motorway through the middle of the Kapiti Coast more than 300 local residents turned up to a three-hour long public meeting held in Waikanae last night.

The meeting was convened by the Alliance for Sustainable Kapiti (ASK) and was held to allow questions to be aired, many for the first time in a public forum, about the implications of decisions taken by NZTA. Rather than questions being accepted from the floor two presentations were given by experts, being representatives of NZTA and urban design consultant James Lunday, followed by political position statements and a panel discussion.

Politicians on the panel, chaired by current Kapiti Coast District Council Mayor Jenny Rowan, included Members of Parliament Darren Hughes (Labour) and Gareth Hughes (Green Party). Three members ofa the Greater Wellington Regional Council - Nigel Wilson, Paul Bruce and Judith Aitken - presented their views. All three noted that as a council body Greater Wellington had failed as yet to enter the debate with a Greater Wellington position, but that they would be urging the council to do so.

Gareth Hughes of the Green Party said that the decision to relocate a motorway-sized State Highway through the middle of the Kapiti Coast was a case of "NZTA doing what they've been told to do by the Minister".

"The challenge for everyone here, and the issue needing leadership from local government on, is how do we convince NZTA they've made a mistake. What we're seeing is a 1940s approach. We can stop this - take heart," said Gareth Hughes.

Darren Hughes of Labour said voting by Kapiti Coast voters in next year's General Election could effectively become a referendum about stopping the proposed Expressway, which he described as an "autobahn".

"It is reassuring that people haven't let go of this issue. This has come out of a shock and awe campaign in which the community has been treated shoddily... We have to fight like hell against this. Listening to the answers from NZTA (tonight) has just been more depressing, it just confirms that there are aspects of the project that are a shambles," said Darren Hughes.

NZTA regional director Jenny Chetwynd acknowledged that the Expressway decision was "not a popular decision." Speaking to the large audience - the size of which initially prompted her to comment "Wow, this is a big issue" - Chetwynd assured all present that NZTA would "work with you to deliver this option".

Regional councillor Judith Aitken stated her personal view that the option as proposed will cut people in Kapiti's communities off from each other. She said that NZTA had "no right to do this to this community when there are other practical alternatives," adding that she did not see that the current option is capable of amelioration or mitigation.

"This is a proposal that does not have us in mind. What I have picked up is that there is a genuine sense of confusion and lack of comprehension at the scale of what happened when this was rushed through in 2009. It has created a real sense of the government betraying the community. There is more to prosperity than the profitability of the trucking industry."

Regional councillor Nigel Wilson stated his personal view that the Expressway, as proposed, is "demonstrably not in the local interest". He said that figures promoted from consultation conducted by NZTA had been "monkeyed around with and very badly misrepresented", and had now compounded into "monstrous lies."


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