A number of us from the Save the Basin Campaign spent last Saturday at Whakarongotai Marae in Waikanae, at a hui organised by Save Kapiti spokesperson Bianca Begovich, and wonderfully hosted by the tangata whenua.
Save Kapiti are campaigning against the proposed Kapiti Expressway, which, like the proposed Basin Reserve flyover, is one of the current National Government’s “Roads of National Significance” proposals. The Kapiti Expressway would be a massive and (yet again) unnecessary motorway, designed to meet the interests of the trucking industry, that would destroy many homes and split Kapiti Coast communities apart.
The Government sent the Kapiti Expressway proposal to an EPA Board of Inquiry hearing which, true to the EPA’s role as a rubber-stamping mechanism, ignored the evidence presented to it by anyone other than NZTA, and decided in favour of the Expressway. Save Kapiti have appealed this decision, and their appeal will be heard in the High Court on 10 July – but, whatever the result of the appeal, they are also exploring other means of opposition that will become public in due course.
Save Kapiti, and other groups such as Alliance for Sustainable Kapiti (ASK) have spent three years and a great deal of money fighting this appalling proposal. It’s been hard, demanding work. But guess what? They are still going strong.
100 people attended the hui – even setting aside the contingents from Save the Basin and Generation Zero who attended, that is 90 Kapiti Coast residents who said, loud and clear, that they are not going to give in to NZTA and Government bullying, that they are going to keep fighting, and that the Kapiti Expressway is going to be stopped.
I was inspired by their commitment, determination, and unity. I was impressed by the strong support for Save Kapiti expressed at the hui by Greens transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter and Labour transport spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway (Labour and the Greens being two of the five parties who also oppose a Basin flyover). And it was great to get a sense of where Save Kapiti is going next. Much as NZTA and the Government would wish otherwise, one place they aren’t going is away.
But the hui was also a valuable source of tactical insight for the Save the Basin Campaign. One of the most interesting contributions came from a former NZTA manager who had resigned in protest over NZTA’s Expressway plans. I asked her what NZTA hated most, and the answer was: bad publicity. Every critical media release, every Letter to the Editor slamming their plans and calling attention to their bad faith, is something NZTA’s managers have to explain away to their bosses and to the Minister.
So the takeaway message here is: keep the bad news coming for NZTA. Keep writing letters to the paper. Keep commenting on flyover-related articles on Wellington Scoop and elsewhere. Tell your MP and your councillors that you don’t want and will oppose a Basin flyover. And watch out for some major opportunities to help Save the Basin with publicity over the next few months.
Also, remember that one of the best ways you can help right now is by donating to Save the Basin. Find out how here: http://savethebasin.org.nz/donate/