Protesters make their feelings known

Around 80 people from all walks of life converged on the Greater Wellington Regional Council offices in Wakefield Street today to protest the Council’s decision to ignore submitters over the Ngauranga to Airport Corridor Plan. A number of speakers – including Victoria University masters student Charlie Devenish, RAM candidate Grant Brookes, and Green MP Sue Kedgley – addressed the protesters. All noted that some 79% of submitters were opposed to the flyover at the Basin Reserve, but all had been ignored by Councillors. There was a widespread call for immediate investment in light rail, public transport, and safer biking and walking instead of more dead-end roading projects.

It was notable that neither Councillors nor Council Officers were prepared to speak to the gathered ratepayers – all claimed they were in “important meetings”, which was met with derision by protesters.

A letter and a poster calling for the Ngauranga to Airport plan to be scrapped and for the resignation of Regional Transport Committee Chair Fran Wilde and Deputy Chair Peter Glensor was presented to junior Council staff. There was widespread sympathy for the secretary who had to receive the protesters, and many people felt she had been set up by the senior managers cowering behind their diaries.

There was much discussion at the protest about the need for a campaign to save the Basin Reserve from the Council and Fulton Hogan. Apparently a public meeting is being organised, and we will notify the community of a date as a soon as it is set.

Editorial: A second tunnel and the Basin defaced

The results of the Ngauranga to Airport Corridor Study are out, and as feared Mt Victoria is right in the firing line for the road-building frenzy. On practically every count, the submissions of residents were ignored – NZ Transport Agency, Greater Wellington Council and the WCC are all determined to destroy Paterson Street with a second tunnel, and deface the Basin Reserve with a flyover.

All at a time when traffic volumes are dropping.

It’s difficult to be too scathing about the out-of-date thinking that has led to this state of affairs. Rather than future-proofing our city with light rail, making it safer for people in our neighbourhood to walk to work, or helping reduce our carbon footprint, the Neanderthals in the Council have signed up for more roads in the 1960s mould. And in doing so, the character of our community will be changed forever.

We can all forget about the quiet summer afternoon watching cricket at the Basin. Given the presence of a huge, ugly concrete flyover all across the northern face, you’ll be lucky to hear the thwack of ball on bat over the roaring trucks and boy racers. Councillor Morrison – an ex-cricketer who should know better – is already planning on spending yet more public money on a new stand to try and hide the ugliness. But even if he succeeds, a new stand won’t stop the clouds of diesel fumes and exhaust emissions blowing across spectators and players alike.

From the lower slopes of Mt Victoria, we’ll be serenaded by vastly increased traffic noise and greater pollution – all so that the taxi drivers can get to the airport marginally faster.

And at a time of economic uncertainty, the Basin flyover represents the worst possible investment our city could make – $60 million to move congestion 300 metres is simply lousy economics, no matter how it’s presented.

I know I will be doing everything I can to stop this short-sighted, pointless boondoggle, and I would encourage others who are concerned about the liveability of our neighbourhood to do the same.

Updated 30/10: It appears some 79% of submitters opposed the Basin Reserve flyover. The Council intends building it anyway.

Kent Duston

A Community Garden for Mt Victoria?

With the onset of the planting season, some folks are exploring the idea of establishing a community garden in Mt Victoria:

“I am a resident of Mt Victoria. I am interested in getting a communtiy garden in place for Mt Victoria – the idea being to create community cohesion, sharing resources, education on sustainability/organic gardening, and for fun :)”

Contact has been made with our local WCC Councillor, Iona Pannett, and she is going to approach her colleague Celia Wade-Brown (Environment Portfolio leader) and Mike Oates (one of the WCC officers in charge of open spaces) to see what can be done. In the meantime, if you’re interested in helping get a community garden established, e-mail timothykimball[at]

Long Weekends = Boy Racers

The long Labour weekend managed to bring out the usual spate of boy racers in Mt Victoria, with Sunday being a particularly busy day for cars with loud exhausts illegally running through the bus tunnel at the top of Pirie Street. At one point, a convoy of four cars was seen racing through to Hataitai, and the antics of one idiot were captured on camera:

The pictures look out-of-order due to the fact that the driver drove into the tunnel at high speed, then was forced to reverse out again due to the oncoming bus … which does tend to confirm the boy racer stereotype of having more ego than brains!

The number plates of some of the participants have come out very nicely in the photographs, and will be given to the Police for further action.

New Crossways Officially Opened

As part of the Meet the Candidates event last evening, the New Crossways Trust chair, Bill Southworth, officially opened the building with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Two of the stalwart members of the old Crossways management committee, Ralph and Margaret Pannett, did the honours of pronouncing the building opened, and were thanked by Bill for their enormous efforts over the years.

In addition to their many years of work on the management committee, Ralph and Margaret made a huge contribution to the campaign to save Crossways. While this was ultimately unsuccessful, the time and effort Ralph and Margaret put into the campaign helped make it possible for Crossways to relocate to its new premises in Roxburgh Street. The community owes them a debt of gratitude for all their work over the last three decades.

Ralph and Margaret Pannett

Meet The Candidates 2008

Labour candidate Grant Robertson (left) and MVRA President Jessica Closson talk to the crowd at last night’s Wellington Central candidates meeting.

The Mt Victoria and Mt Cook communities ran a hugely entertaining Meet The Candidates meeting last night at the new Crossways community centre in Roxburgh Street. Ten candidates for the Wellington Central electorate informed and entertained a full house, punctuated with sloganeering, backchat and interjections, as well as considered policy and in-depth discussion of the issues facing New Zealand.

As the first public meeting for the new Crossways – ably chaired by Jessica Closson from the Mt Victoria Residents Association – it was a great way to welcome the neighbourhood to our new community facility. It was also a great way to meet a number of great people from Mt Cook Mobilised, who joined us to grill the candidates on local and national issues.

So now it’s up to you – remember to vote on November 8, and if you’re not yet enrolled, it’s time to make the effort so you can have your say in how our country is governed!