Massive 22,500 Strong Hospital Petition Challenge To General Election Candidates In Kāpiti
Press statement by Kāpiti Mayor K Gurunathan (Feb 24 2020)
Candidates standing in the Otaki and Mana electorates in the coming General Elections should expect to see a strong push from Kāpiti residents for a commitment to a Community Hospital in Kāpiti.
I see this campaign as the next stage to the 22,500 strong petition that was presented to the Parliamentary Health Committee last year. I'm happy that the Health Committee, in responding to the petition, has noted the positive work being done by the CCDHB and the Ministry of Health working with the Kāpiti Health Advisory Group to improve Kāpiti's access to health services.
The Ministry and the CCDHB would, however, be mistaken in their view that Kāpiti residents now and in the future will be satisfied with just "improved services".
The political message should be quite clear. The 22,500 strong petition is the largest petition in Kāpiti's history and was achieved in a record time of just eight weeks ! People came in droves to sign it.
The 22,500 petition is a strong public mandate for a hospital and will be a legitimate part of a campaign for a Community Hospital during this election period. This campaign will highlight the lack of planning to future proof the growth projected for Kāpiti. This has not been covered by the Health Committee Report.
Kāpiti's population is currently at 53,000 and its projected to increase to 64,000 by 2043. This is a conservative estimate that has not fully grasped the potential impact of the $2 billion investment in roading infrastructure from Transmission Gully, M2PP, PP2O and north to Levin. There is expectation our population could exceed well over 64,000 by 2043.
What the report does not consider is the intention of the Government to leverage such infrastructure investment to solve our housing crisis by fast tracking intensive urban development. The Kainga Ora Homes and Communities Act 2019, and its enabling tool the NPS on Urban Development, will create Urban Development Authorities with centralised powers to create large and medium housing projects. The 2019 Act requires not just the building of houses but the creation of communities. The campaign for a Community Hospital is an integral part of building such resilient communities.
A Community Hospital will also mean a level of decentralisation of the medical services for trauma medicine currently centralised in Wellington. This is critical to local resilience during civil emergencies like a major earthquake. A GNS report had warned that a major regional earthquake of a 7.5 magnitude or greater could see the Wellington Region broken up into seven isolated 'islands'. Kāpiti would be cut off for weeks.
Candidates wanting our votes should be actively championing the case for a future Community Hospital in Kāpiti.