It’s been devastating to see the destruction all around the country caused by Cyclone Gabrielle and the floods in Auckland a few weeks ago and our thoughts go out to all those impacted by them.

One of the narratives already emerging from these events is the question of whether this is finally what it will take for us as a country to get serious about climate change. There have already been a number of articles and opinion pieces asking this question, these are excerpts from just a few examples.

If the reality of the climate crisis hadn’t sunk in for you until this summer, you’re probably not alone. Humans simply aren’t wired to assess future threats – particularly ones they can’t see, like a warming planet.

But with yet another cyclone hitting the North Island – as fears of drought escalate in parts of the South Island – the impact climate change will have on our lives is becoming harder to ignore


Hopefully these tragic weather events, one by one, year after year, will finally force New Zealand’s ratepayers, voters, community groups, and white conservative men into advocating for systemic, legislative change that will have an impact on the biggest problem of our age – one that is raining down on all of us.

I guess only time will tell just what impact these events will have on the local and national conversation about how we deal with a changing climate.

But one area we need to be particularly watch for is suggestions the answer is to double down on business as usual. It’s something we’re already starting to see and I suspect the noise around it will only get louder as we shift away from responding to the immediate emergency and into the longer term recovery.

The ~110m wide slip on SH25a has highlighted the fragility of some parts of our road network.

An example of this kind of doubling down came just before the cyclone hit.

Northland leaders are calling on the Government to pull finger on a four-lane highway between Auckland and Whangārei amid fears the latest closure of the Brynderwyns will turn into another “Mangamuka situation”.

Two weeks after heavy rain caused slips that shut State Highway 1 south of the Brynderwyn Hills, there is still no timeline for when it will be fully open, which has some Northlanders drawing similarities with the Mangamuka Gorge, closed since last August with no completion date in sight.

And with climate change starting to wreak havoc around the country, Northlanders are urging the Government to tackle the region’s roading issue with urgency.


Northland Chamber of Commerce president Tim Robinson agreed.

“We’ve had successive governments over the last 30 years say roading should be prioritised in Northland, but immediately backtrack on it.

“We do worry it’ll end up a Mangamuka situation here when we’re reliant on alternative routes which are not fit for purpose.

“The Government has got to commit to a four-lane expressway between Whangārei and Auckland like they have in the Waikato.”

Transport connections are vital to our wellbeing and to our economy, and we absolutely need to work to make them more resilient. But calls for large highways such as these, and the more that will inevitably follow will simply not help the situation. There are a couple of key reasons for this and the idea of a four lane highway to Whangarei is a good example of this and a lot of it can be boiled down the issue of time and cost.


One of the key issues with climate change is we’re likely to see these kinds of events happening more frequently and more violently. As such we need to improve the resiliency of our transport networks quickly. However, four-lane highways are anything but quick to deliver.

Puhoi to Warkworth (P2W) is perhaps one of the best examples of this as it is a project that wasn’t on the plans to be a motorway until National announced it a Road of National Significance (RoNS) in March 2009 – most of the other RoNS had at least some work previously done on them.

Despite strong government support and an expeditated design and consent process, it still took eight years to start construction and the project isn’t due to open till later this year. That’s 14 years all up.

Puhoi to Warkworth is about 18.5km in length and many of the other RoNS projects, like the Waikato Expressway and the roads north of Wellington were broken down sections of about 10-25 km in length, likely in order to be manageable.

A four lane highway between Warkworth and Whangarei, including a bypass of the Brynderwyn’s, is likely to be around 95 km in length so it’s extremely unlikely we could build that all in one go. It’s more likely we’d need to break that down into four or five stages.

The Brynderwyn’s bypass options

Even assuming we have construction crews moving immediately from stage to stage, that’s likely a 40 year programme of work to deliver such a highway. And that’s just one of the highways that some groups will demand.


Large motorway/expressway projects don’t just take a long time to build, they also cost a lot of money. It’s now not uncommon for these large motorway projects to cost in the order of $40-60 million per km to build, but with some projects being even higher – and that’s before the more recent inflationary pressures.

Costs per km of various roading projects in NZ – as of 2021

For a programme like Warkworth to Whangarei, we’re probably looking at a combined cost in the range of $5-7 billion. Repeat that for similar projects all around the country and we’ll be starting down the barrel of a bill tens of billions in size on top of what we’re already spending on transport – a few years ago former Transport Minister and architect of the RoNS, Stephen Joyce, called for over 800km of expressways be built.

Then there’s the question of how we pay for that. Does the government significantly raise transport taxes to cover those costs or do they take money away from other sectors, the health or education system?

A separate aspect to cost is the value. Those kinds of costs may be justified if the roads have enough demand on them but the reality is that we’ve pretty much built all of the roads that have the kinds of volume to justify a four-lane highway.

In documents from Waka Kotahi on the proposed Warkworth to Wellsford section they noted that one of the criteria for building the road would be when:

  • Forecast traffic volumes are predicted to exceed 25,000 AADT

This graph is from a few years ago when many of the RoNS projects, such as those on the Waikato Expressway, were still under construction. But as you can see from it, and others in that post, there is almost nowhere with traffic volumes near that 25k per day figure. In the case of a four-lane highway to Whangarei, average daily traffic volumes drop to about 10k vehicles over the Brynderwyn’s.

What a lot of this means is the cost of building these large highways will almost certainly be greater than the economic benefits they provide – including safety and resilience benefits.

If that’s the case, what can we do.

In that same article as above though, one truck operator did highlight the solution

“With this type of weather, this is going to be the norm.”

Sparksman said the southern side of the Brynderwyns needs to be upgraded to the standard of the northern side, which saw $18 million spent on widening the road and shoulders, removing tight corners and installing safety barriers in 2015.

“Our infrastructure needs to be up to a certain standard, and it’s not.

“They spend $20m on the north side of the Brynderwyns and nothing on the other side.

Instead of big motorway projects, we need programme of smaller projects to help improve both the resilience and safety of our highway network. Projects that can be delivered in years, not decades.

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  1. Every time I see the graph of traffic volumes it reinforces why we should not be building the Otaki to Levin expressway (we should be improving safety on the existing road). But we just plough on doing it. When I try and argue why we should not the usual arguments come up, such as that current congestion causes more emissions so we need to get traffic moving, or that electric cars are coming and this will provide a good way for them to travel. At the same time, funding is not available for the Palmerston North and Wairarapa train upgrades. We see Wales stopping building new motorways. We know what to do. But we seem incapable of doing it.

    1. Speaking as a user of the current road, I agree we don’t need the gold plated solution, and would prefer they fixed up the nastiest spots (the two narrow curved bridges). I also don’t know why it has to be a clean-sheet route east of Levin rather than using SH57.

      But also consider that one big benefit of O2L is it gets SH1 out of Levin which currently makes the center of Levin toxic. So I think something is needed – probably something that links the current SH57 straight (before the Kimberly Rd corner) to SH1 south of Ohau, but it doesn’t need to be a full-on limited access expressway. It’d still be nice if it had wire-medians and other modern safety features though.

      1. +1000000

        Most of the benefits could be had for some fraction of the price. Ropes, limited curve easements and grade improvements. And a 2 lane (limited access) Levin bypass for through traffic.

        These bypassses and improvement areas need to be limited access though. Or the council lets businesses / subdivisions spring up off the new highway, and it’s back to square 1 in terms of safety and emissions.

        Spending this much on a single project like O2NL has massive opportunity costs. Think of the other towns like bulls that could be bypassed with a simple 2 lane alignment. Not a possibility when you sink every capex dollar into 3 alignments and ignore everywhere else (while increasing traffic everywhere else)

  2. You can spend a LOT of money on ground improvements, localaised byapsses and the like, that would buy a heap of flood resilience, before you get close to spending expressway level money.

    Such is the driving political economy that’s been created. Local politicians don’t say:
    “wow, those expressways in far away places that sucked every dollar of capex out of my area, maybe we should share it around and buy vastly more resilience”,
    Rather they short circuit:
    “No the problem is they didn’t choose my area to build 4 lane expressways!!”.

    I think this all stems from local governments and MP’s areas having no financial skin in the game of major highway builds. Their job is to make sure as much money and construction comes their way as possible, not to make sure we’re buying as much resilience (or safety) as possible with the given NLTF money.

  3. SH5 at Eskdale has just… disappeared for a fair distance. I imagine the damage from Eskdale to Te Pohue will be extensive. The Napier Taupo road in general has had a lot of money spent on it, but it remains vulnerable to weather events. I know a better route (at least for rail) was surveyed via Rissington, maybe it is time to revisit that.

    1. The only good thing about that SH5 route disappearing is that it will keep the logging trucks off the highway for a while. Radiata blanket logging, slash washing down rivers, logging trucks, exporting logs to China for pulp and toilet paper: all things that NZ could really do without. That sector needs a total rethink. Last time I drove that route, a month or two ago, the amount of logging trucks and ensuing asphalt damage from logging trucks was intense.

  4. In a world ,where increasingly ” instant gratification ” is the norm,it is hard to see any politician advocating any long term projects,even road building. Sure,they will see some short term support,in proposing such things,but the sobering graph showing the doubling of construction costs ,even before a spade hits the ground,should bring some sense to the discussion.
    Penlink is a folly,and the Matakana link is an embarrassment, holding the middle finger ,up to the rest of the country,as the “white conservative men” alluded to above ,get to their holiday homes.
    Gabrielle is a reminder,who is in charge here,we need to work with her,as she is the one,holding all the cards.

    1. I am one of those white conservative males, but I completely agree with you. As James Shaw said yesterday, this is a period of consequences. If we choose to have millions of cows producing methane; and build endless new roads inducing carbon dioxide emissions; and we build new airports on the Chathams and at Tarris doing the same, there will most likely be an adverse consequence.
      And for those who say that this was a one in two-hundred-year weather year event, that is meaningless. The past is no predictor of a rapidly changing future. These sorts of events have also happened in Germany and Pakistan in just the last two years.
      On an economic level it is madness to roll a loaded dice where the downside, Gabrielle, is either half the annual revenue from the dairy industry or all of it.
      I make no apologies for my anger. I grew up in Napier and Hastings and the cities have been described to me as “wrecked.” I have an awful feeling that the area, like Tairawhiti, will be ignored because only a few votes come from there, and that it will struggle as it did after the necessary demise of the sheep industry.

    2. Penlink is actually needed to remove the bottleneck on Whangaparaoa Road. Currently, all the traffic going into that large peninsula goes in through that road, creating massive congestion. In addition, if a slip closes that road, the people on the peninsula would be trapped.

      1. People find semi affordable housing in Whangaparoa,faced with life sapping commute.Answer, build gold plated expressway. Reality,more people move to Whangaparoa,faced with life saving commute. Answer?

      2. “My expressway is actually needed, road spending in other areas isn’t though”

        It’s a very expensive slip solver. You could put in massive retaining walls on the existing alignment for a fraction of the price. I lived on the peninsula for a while, by far the worst congestion is the actual motorway, southbound, used to start just north of Albany. Make the trip to that congestion faster, make that congestion worse.

      3. Penlink will create a bottleneck on SH1. The modelling undertaken ignores the increase in person-trips from increased road capacity. Yet even with the changes they do recognise (to people’s travel patterns), it shows that travel times will go up. They only got it to work for the business case through a major fudge, ie that SH1 would be widened to accommodate the extra traffic.

        WK and AT haven’t been giving the public full information about the effect it will have – because they are still using the outdated transport planning methodology that created Auckland’s transport problems in the first place.

        If the public knew what it would do – adding congestion to the wider network, swamping Whangaparaoa with yet more cars, and most of all, stripping nearly a billion dollars of money that is desperately needed for quality transport investment, Penlink would be the most unpopular project ever for north Auckland.

        1. “Penlink will create a bottleneck on SH1.”

          Please, Heidi. Language. SH1 *IS* already a bottleneck.

        2. Heidi, you are absolutely right in that it will encourage more people to get back in their cars and stop using the bus, the current motorway will come to a standstill. Put an underground rail line instead, start future proofing.

        3. That will be the effect. We don’t need an underground railway. What we need is Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning. For Whangaparaoa significant improvement in access and modeshare can be achieved through regeneration of the streets there. It needs to be safe to walk, scooter or bike to the bus (and beyond); yet it is currently egregiously unsafe in many places.

          For less money than this project costs, we should be
          – reworking the main road for walking and cycling safety within the existing corridor,
          – creating low traffic neighbourhoods throughout the whole peninsula
          – reallocating a lane on SH1 to buses.

          All of that is cheap. It could done to extremely high standards and still have money to reallocate elsewhere. This could be a model demonstration area for Auckland. Instead they are injecting public money into roading to support the sprawl along the route of Penlink.

          That the Board Chair of both the transport agency and the Development Company is the same man should be front page news and leading to government action.

  5. Alas, our efforts on climate change will be fruitless whatever we do here. The best thing we can do is to convince countries with really high emissions per capita like US, Canada and Australia to reduce their emissions (Maybe by setting a good example and promoting it).

    1. That’s not what the experts say. You should listen to the Climate Change Commissioner on the point, Andrew.

      It also assumes taking action will cost us more, whereas not taking action is much more costly. We can and must do everything we can. Besides, a low carbon society is nicer to live in, and it’s far more resilient.

      1. But that ignores game theory. It isn’t just a choice for us and we get an alternate outcome. The choices are we reduce and so does everyone else, we reduce and others don’t, or we emit and others either do or dont. It is a Prisoners’ dilemma with a Nash equilibrium of everybody emits. The only ways out of that are one world government (a terrifying prospect) or enforceable contracts (which again requires an authority that can police them). Basically the climate is stuffed and we should spend our wealth dealing with the consequences.

        1. Miffy, use of CFCs and HFCs were effectively eliminated by the Montreal Protocol. They were cheaper than the alternatives, but the international community responded, collectively, to the collective risk, and the result was good: Human nature and game theory haven’t changed since then. And anyway, real life is an iterated prisoners dilemma, not a one-time game.

          But if that doesn’t work, and the big boys decide to secure all of the energy sources to burn themselves, we’ll be pleased we decarbonised before we couldn’t get access.

        2. CFCs and HFCs were low volume gases compared to fossil fuel emissions and the opportunity cost of avoiding them wasn’t that high (unless you were a fire fighter and someone used propane as the refrigerant). On the other had cheap energy is the reason every developed country got rich and the means that every poor country wants to use to follow. If decarbonising were cheap then the world would have done it by now. It isn’t so they haven’t. The problem is nobody prefers poverty.

        3. It’s more of a status-quo thing. We massively subsidise fossil fuel use because the beneficiaries of those subsidies are rich and fund museum exhibits, newspaper advertorials, election campaigns, lobbyists, astroturf groups, disinformation, and black ops weaponisation of social psychology research and data through social media, etc. It’s already cheaper to get our energy from low-carbon sources, but the people and organisations which are benefiting handsomely don’t want to give that up. After years of first pushing the angle that climate change didn’t exist (even though they knew it was real from their own research), they switched to pushing the idea that individuals could fix things through managing their own environmental footprint, and now they’ve pivoted towards pushing the idea that it’s too late to change anything. It’s all a series of positions designed to protect their profits. Have you bought into it like they want you to?

      2. Numbers say that New Zealand alone will change absolutely nothing. As miffy noted below this is a prisoners dilemma or a tragedy of the commons. The best action for us is to attempt to affect big boys, luckily we share the language and information space with those I enumerated in my comment above.

        1. Why would you do that when you’d end up paying high carbon credits, lose the enormous opportunity for demonstration of turning high carbon systems around, and have a shit system here, to boot.

          Decarbonisation will improve NZ.

        2. Heidi, can’t this demonstration count as “convincing other guys”? I think we’re talking about almost the same things in slightly different words and with a slightly different attitude.

        3. “The best thing we can do is to convince countries with really high emissions per capita like US, Canada and Australia”….and NZ?

          Aren’t we emitting three times our global footprint (population)?

        4. KLK, According to what I know United States emit about three times per capita more than NZ. Total numbers for US is obviously magnitude more, its second after China by total emissions. NZ is somewhere near Denmark and Ireland both with total emissions and per capita.

        5. This always get me – those generally on the right say we should not comment on other countries human rights issues but instead we should demonstrate by our own actions the way things should be done – but then when it comes to climate change, emisson reduction etc – they say we shouldnt bother leading they way as it has no impact.

        6. Vinny, is there anything in my words about not doing anything? Apart from the fact that high emissions usually means burnt money by inefficient equipment there’s a number of other quite nasty substances apart from carbon dioxide emitted when fossils burned. There’s a variety of nitrogen oxides, particulate matters of various sizes, lead, sulfur and many other things which have a real impact locally.

      3. And yes, of course I agree that expressways is not something that can help us to address future violent weather events. These expressways are a waste of money, as they will be washed away with another “one in the century” flood.

    2. This article isn’t even on climate change, mate. It’s about how we RESPOND to climate change.

      With more wasteful projects that make things worse (on climate change) while making things little better (on transport and resilience).

      Or do we at least spend our money in a way that makes us able to weather the (literal and metaphorical) storms better?

      We can keep building in flood plains or stop. We can keep building unnecessary motorways or stop. So far both Labour and National keep doing the wrong thing every government, they just talk about it in different comms packaging.

  6. Not to be the devil’s advocate, but why does the same logic of “nobody uses cycle lanes so why should be improve them” (when in reality we should be improving them/build it and they will come), not apply to the highways? I.e. if we build the 4 lanes, won’t it then induce demand over the 25k threshold?

    1. Lol. I hope you’re having a joke.

      If not, then the answer is yes, you’re absolutely right. But the difference is our goals.

      Our goal is to reduce traffic, not increase it. So while it would get over the threshold, we don’t want it to.

      1. I agree with decreasing traffic within our cities, but I don’t see much option to reduce traffic between our cities (other than people not travelling). Rail costs way too much, even countries with existing rail networks and high demand due to much larger populations struggle to make rail economically viable.
        Looking at that chart even the Waikato Expressway probably shouldn’t have been built. But I don’t think the country would be better off without it.

        1. To be better than car it would need to be very quick, frequent and convenient. I think that would be hard to achieve due to our terrain, population, but most importantly our existing investment in motorways. For example to Whangārei, we already have a motorway to Puhoi, but for high speed frequent rail you need to start from scratch at Britomart (it couldn’t be high speed and share the Western line tracks).

        2. You could upgrade/make a new rail corridor from Wellsford to Whangarei as part of the expressway. Then dependent on what the AWHC ends up being, connect the rail into the end of it (if it’s narrow gauge and has the clearance in the tunnel) or connect to whichever major PT route ends up going to Wellsford (as odds are it’ll grow like Warkworth has in the future).

          Either way, short term you can take a bus from Wellsford to Warkworth, then Warkworth to the busway, then the busway down, and as demand grows, you’ll be able to connect directly Wellsford to the busway, and possibly directly to the CBD, depending on how many commuters exist at that future undetermined point.

        3. Freddy – I have thought the same thing about the “too hard” Whangarei to Auckland rail.

          If HR won’t be the answer from Britomart and across the harbour, you could have a transfer at Wellsford for the North Auckland line. Eventually the busway/north shore rail will need to get to Warkworth, so why not Wellsford. Even LR/LM could do 100k/hr between those two centers, if no stops.

    2. Yes and no. How much suppressed demand is there on a rural highway that is only congested 10 days a year?

      If you’re going to leverage that new 4 lane highway and build a heap of housing / businesses out there, to fill it up, then sure.

      But now we’re talking about a different thing, and the topic becomes: why not induce that demand by building in the existing urban area, near under utilised infrastructure like our rail lines?

      Induced demand is neutral. The costs and benefits / what falls out of us inducing that demand should be the real topic of conversation.

    3. There’s already TRAFFIC where cycle lanes are proposed. It’s just almost all in cars, and that’s a big part of the issue.

      So unless there’s some secret travel mode with huge numbers of people all already travelling from Whangarei to Auckland who we really should get out of that mode and into cars for the same journey, then no, your example only stacks up to the Mike Hoskins test, but not to reality.

      Yes, more lanes will increase demand a bit over time even in this location in Northland. But unless we build tons of actual cities along that new motorway, it will be empty most of the time, like our wallets after we pay for it.

  7. The thing is, all of these criticisms also apply to public transport projects. Light rail is costing as much as these roads.

    1. Trolling much? We are talking about reducing emissions here and globally and you are criticizing public transport project. Nice!

    2. It costs less to drive an expressway across greenfield farmland than to drive a tunnel/bus lane/rail line through the most populous city and the most expensive land in the country.

      The code is an old one, but it checks out.

    3. Point out where we haven’t been critical of light rail in it’s current form.
      Note, that includes being critical about it being in a tunnel not just because it costs a lot more but because it will have higher embodied emissions.

      1. Agree. But are you sure that Dominion Road has met the threshold where light rail is needed (even surface level)? They could get rid of all the city congestion problems for example by running the buses on Ian McKinnan Drive and Upper Queen Street. Or something like AMETI which has very little existing demand.
        To be honest it is very hard to justify any transport project based on current demand.

        1. So solve the bus issue in the CBD by just making the buses not connect to the CBD at all? It’s a novel idea, I’ll give you that.

  8. A letter in the Herald this morning:

    “The Government has given the “massive” sum of $11.5 million for disaster relief when New Zealand is being literally destroyed by a cyclone. Over $1 billion is being spent on a useless busway in Botany to avoid approx 1km of possible congestion and a few minutes of travel time on what is already the widest roadway in Auckland. Maybe, only maybe, there might be a rethink.”

    1. I really need to get around to writing some of these herald letters. Put in some absolutely deranged boomer bait. They seem to publish the most insane, illogical crap, so shouldn’t have a problem publishing mine.

    2. I am not sure if this person was advocating for road space to be given to buses instead (which I 100% agree with) or if the busway should not be built at all (which I possibly agree with because it seems to be very expensive for a pretty crap solution to a place where people probably won’t use PT much).

      1. It was Bob Wichman (81+). He is against buses and reallocating road space, although reallocating lanes is the logical conclusion from his letter. Wichmanregularly writes letters to the Herald about the busway, and to the local free paper stating few people use buses

        1. Not wanting to be rude to Bob Wichman, but it is possible that his info and experience might be a trifle outdated. In the nicest possible way, he needs re-education. But not in a Killing Fields kind of manner…

    3. “Maybe, only maybe, there might be a rethink.”

      True, lets ditch the Reeves Road flyover, and instead of buying lots of properties to not reduce car lanes, lets reprioritise lanes instead. That should save more than half of that cost.”

      “NO. NOT THAT WAY!”

    4. Absolutely agree there should be a re-think. Bus ways are so efficient in terms of space, costs, and emissions savings that they should be built long before hectares of roads.

  9. If the Marsden Point – Warkworth section is built, the Wellsford to Marsden section should have a double track railway line designated (and hopefully built). It’s too late for the Wellsford south part, but the NAL intersects with Wellsford, and the Marsden Point branch will intersect at the other end. If an entirely new road alignment is built, the rail should also be provided for, as the BCR for an upgraded rail corridor along that same route would be much greater than the motorway extension.

    Personally, I’m for the four lanes, and I think our best bet is to decrease the costs through things like automated earthmovers and the like rather than settle for only doing the relatively cheaper options. The relatively cheaper options are needed as well, but why should we settle for just that? Especially as they’re not particularly cheap for what we get. We can reduce the costs of inputs enough to get our whole cake. There isn’t just one approach when the financials don’t stack up (canning it), you can also make the project cheaper, or the project benefits larger.

    There is not the demand now, but there will be (because of induced demand). Building strong backbones of motorways/rail/PT corridors across the country is a short term stimulus and a long term investment in further growth, and encourages intensification and sprawl along planned corridors rather than the existing hodge podge of sprawl then trying to fit underbuilt infra in after.

    1. Lol what? That final paragraph is mind boggling. You want to build a four lane motorway to induce demand and further intensify along sprawled out motorways?? Jesus no wonder we are going backwards

      1. We’re going to expand our urban areas one way or another. Whether the bulk of it is wherever developers can, or along transport spines, is up to us. And we can choose where these transport spines are, and linking our existing major centres is a good place for these transport spines (as you help both local, regional and interregional trips by going node to node and creating new nodes along the route). A true transport spine isn’t just one mode, it’s multimodal.

  10. Interesting that nobody who commented on my comment mentioned the cyclone crisis.

    Seems that you are all too focussed on your transport obsessions to really care about your fellow humans

    1. so this is the establishment’s response then. typical, only caring about the short-term not the long-term.

      let’s say we do divert funding from public transport infrastructure to immediate cyclone relief. then what. pollution from cars continues to increase. more storms come. you spend more money on disaster relief. the disasters grow bigger and more money is needed for relief. eventually the disaster becomes too big to cope with, or there is too little money to provide relief. and then civilisation will start to collapse in earnest.

      this is what has doomed the human race to extinction. your short-term mentality, your lack to comprehend medium-term and long-term suffering.

      1. This was the first sentence of my post:

        “The Government has given the “massive” sum of $11.5 million for disaster relief when New Zealand is being literally destroyed by a cyclone.”

    2. Interesting that you didn’t mention the Turkey-Syria earthquake. Interesting you didn’t mention the war in Ukraine. Interesting you didn’t mention the problems in Palestine. Oh wait, its a transport blog about Auckland.

  11. We could perhaps invest in upgrading passenger rail between Auckland and Whangarei. Something on a new alignment perhaps to allow for higher speeds and separation from freight. Invest in making some satellite towns & enlarging existing ones (especially Wellsford) along the route. Bit of a pipe dream I guess.

  12. Sadly any thoughts that NZ will build low emission transport is a pipe dream. I note that despite $10 – $20 billion being required to rebuild after the cyclone the National party still has an economic policy seemingly fashioned by the Tooth Fairy. It seems that the first imperative is still to inflation adjust the taxation bands, thereby ensuring the government has less money, right at the time that more seems to be required.
    Sure, not all of the re-build money will be needed this year, or next; but even more sadly it seems given NZ’s recent history of adverse weather events there will be some crisis somewhere calling for a government response next year and the year after, and the year after.
    And what will a National governments response be to react to those events? It seems to rely on the Tooth Fairy regularly leaving money under the pillow.

    1. Indexing the tax brackets is at this point a moral obligation and nothing short of it is acceptable. The government requires the RBNZ to maintain an inflationary environment, thereby reducing the real wages of NZers, at a time of high inflation – and there is little consequence when the inflation numbers massively overshoot the inflationary target. So refusing to index when you have tacitly approved the status quo by reappointing the RBNZ Governor is an abject failure of governance, for which voters have little recourse.

      It really is simple. If you want to raise taxes, take it to the electorate and justify it. Don’t just increase it year on year by stealth and hope no one will notice, and collect even more money to arguably do even less with.

      It was a moral failure even at 2% inflation, but at 7%+ it is a reprehensive notion. Either give us our money’s worth, or don’t take it in the first place. I am genuinely fine with either one.

      1. haha, morality in the tax and revenue system. If people started paying the full cost of non essential and business services then there wouldn’t be a need for indexation. Let me name just a few: passports, airport construction, culture and the arts; and roads. The latter would save the tax payer over $20B in the next 10 years.
        The money has to come from somewhere because our hospital system is failing. Our essential services are not in great shape. Our aging population will put even more demands on government spending. (Where is the morality in providing a social service, retirement benefit, to people who have not retired?)
        I don’t know whether you are looking forward to the austerity of the 90s, but if you are, from a person who lived through it, it is a cast iron guarantee of widespread social upheaval.

        1. I’m not sure that forcing households into a position of austerity by undermining their real incomes through tax increases by stealth is going to lead to a buoyant economy either.

          And genuine question: what would it actually cost to ‘fix’ the health system. I’m not talking tipping money into an empty hole like the $2b mental health spend that got us $2b worth of headlines about mental health spend and not much else. I’m talking tangible, actual functioning outcomes, access to specialists, medicines, the works. Bearing in mind governments have already been able to dip into our pockets without being up front about it, and things are still apparently falling apart.

          If that’s the idea, then tell us what it’s actually going to cost. This goes for climate change mitigation, rapid transit, all the other stuff that people like to bring up to justify why people can’t be allowed to keep enough of their own incomes to stop them eroding in real terms. Let us vote on it, but don’t make it something that you try and sneak under the radar through neglecting basic tax administration because it means people won’t ask about things like ‘outcomes’ and other such trivialities.

  13. The problem is, we could be the perfect country doing everything possible against climate change and still our effect is 0.05% of the global issue. Until we accept that it doesn’t matter what New Zealand does, we have no effect.

    China State Coal produces 34% of carbon emissions – stop that and you’ll most likely see some real world change.

    Should we tax Kiwi’s out of jobs, become a forest country with no exports and no food to feed the world and lower the living standards of all New Zealanders, to have no real world effect? Idealogs reading this will say “yes”. However, think deeper, would you accept no funding for medicines, hospitals, railways and cycleways if we don’t have jobs? All for what? 0.05% effect while China, Russia and the US continue to emit pollution at record rates?

    1. We should split china and russia’s emissions up into thousands of little arbitrary blocks as well, that way the exact same arguments apply and we can all continue to pollute

    2. This is short-sighted. The EU banned all ICE vehicles from 2035 onwards. Major car manufacturers will simply not build non-electrical cars in the future.
      There is a huge cost to fossil energies besides emissions by destroying nature. On top of that, we rely on rather ‘controversial’ states like Russia, Saudi-Arabia, Qatar for oil supplies.
      Wind, water and solar energies could be harvested in New Zealand, creating jobs here.
      There are proven advantages for walkable cities in terms of (mental) health by reducing noise and local emissions and increasing the amount of exercise people get (by walking or biking to school and work).
      It is so much better to walk or take the bus home from a bar or concert than having a bunch of intoxicated drivers on the road.
      Every tenth of a degree of warming more increases the probability of Gabrielle 2.0.
      Building out in the sprawl creates empty neighbourhoods, paves over valuable unsealed land and takes away space for crops.
      Not to mention that tourism in NZ relies on nature which is more and more paved over at the moment.

      So while the direct global impact may be minor, there are still significant local benefits to building better transport, reducing car-depency and switching to renewable energies.
      And to be honest: Everybody knows that already. Some choose to ignore for whatever reason.

      1. If we do nothing do you think our trading partners are going to let us get away with that. We will have sanctions imposed on us for do nothing.

        1. Yes Wayne. And there is already a sanction. NZ will have to buy overseas carbon credits and the estimates that I have seen range from $8b to $30b up to 2030. (Dept of the Environment $8b – 12b)

    3. It does no one any credit to adopt the simplistic Groundswell argument that NZ cannot forgo food production. The argument isn’t that, it is that we need to produce way less animal protein. And as the world eats less animal protein we will sell them plant protein that can be produced with only 10% of current emissions and much less water.

  14. So it’s Friday morning and the Brnyderwin section of state highway one is still closed but there are alternative routes available between Auckland and Whangerai. Meanwhile we have heard zilch on whether the railway is open. I don’t even know if the railway was reopened after the anniversary weekend flooding. Even when it is open only one train each way each working day runs. I have thought battery railcars could run on the line after all it might as well be used for something. However if the line is only going to be maintained to a level that allows freight operations only on a good day with a following wind then it is unsuitable for passenger operations. Which brings us back to buses, bus ways and expressways. So better buses with room for lots of luggage and bikes might attract a few from their cars if the price was right. I can report well filled intercity buses are leaving the Manukau bus station evertime I am there to observe them. I have worried about the effect of Geopolitical unrest on fuel prices and its availability. The electrification of buses and trains is another factor which we must take into account when we consider resilience.

    1. Of course Intercity buses are “well filled”, they are the only option for long distance land public transport in most parts of the country and for most destinations. Whether an unregulated, private monopoly is good for the traveller never seems to be discussed?

  15. If the powers that be completed the dream of our leaders 140 yes ago when they set aside all the rail land around Auckland and they completed the rail line across that land from Onehunga to Avondale/MtAlbert we would complete the “Circle” rail line around Inner Auckland which I believe would alleviate a lot of the inner Auckland road traffic problems. Some of that land was left for rail when the built the South Western motorway over most of it.

  16. I really object to the references to white conservative men. Prejudice is prejudice and a don’t believe there’s any acceptable version.

    All it achieves when people feel targeted is more people in that demographic to become reactive and close down on much needed dialogue.

    I get the frustration, but all of this really detracts from some very good points raised about the climate. It creates unnecessary division at a time when we need to be working much more across boundaries if we’re going to see the meaningful change we both want and need.

    1. They are men. And the politics and ideology that drives their decisions (or non-decisions) looks like its conservative (as opposed to progressive).

      As someone who is a white man, and who is conservative on a few occasions, I don’t see the issue. They represent a legitimate section of the demographic but are over-represented in the decision making.

  17. I may be out of my depth here but I wonder if in hindsight installing bigger drainage, MSE walls, retaining walls and crib walls would of helped some roads around the upper North Island withstand the storms Abit better. Roads do need wider shoulders and straightening with more easy gradients.

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