It’s Friday again and here are some articles that caught our attention this week.

This Week in Greater Auckland

GPS Submissions

Submissions on the Government Policy Statement on Land Transport closed this week and already we’re seeing some strong opposition to the proposed direction.

The Post reported that the council’s governing our three largest cities are all concerned about this:

Already it is clear the councils of Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch has serious qualms about how the plan intends to fund roads, compared with other transport infrastructure. The councils provided their submissions to The Post on Wednesday.

Auckland City Council has delivered the Government a 91-page submission on the draft transport plan, more than twice the length of the plan itself, asking the Government commit to working with Auckland Council on a “integrated transport plan” for the city.

“We don’t expect the entire GPS to be framed around Auckland’s needs, but nor is it acceptable that the needs of Auckland are overlooked.”

The council warned against the Government pursuing its roads of national significance (RONS) in Auckland, saying its proposed integrated transport plan should be how projects in Auckland are determined.

“Within the Auckland context, we do not believe that the RONS programme should preclude the selection of designs that differ from the standard of a four-lane fully grade-separated motorway. We note that several of the RONS, including East West Link, have already been consented with designs that deviate from this standard.”

Wellington noted:

“Not allowing for a multi-modal investments approach in council streets across several activity classes will not result in efficient infrastructure investment for a future Council asset and will not serve the practical community mobility needs of New Zealand’s largest cities.

“We strongly encourage a rethink of this part of the proposal.”


The Christchurch City Council was concerned about a lack of recognition for Christchurch transport projects in the draft transport plan, asking that two projects be included in a Canterbury crown investment programme: the Greater Christchurch Public Transport Futures and Mass Rapid Transit, and the Pages Rd bridge renewal.

It also expressed concern about a “strong state highway focus” coming at the “expense of consideration of the economic and broader contribution of the local road network” and the use of public transport, walking and cycling to manage congestion.

“The council believes that the draft GPS is missing an opportunity to achieve the outcomes sought by significantly reducing the funding available for walking and cycling and public transport infrastructure and services.

Meanwhile, Radio NZ reports that 88 academics from NZ and seven other countries are also troubled by the GPS:

The 88 academics – from New Zealand and seven other countries, and with expertise in transport, urban planning, health and more – raised five “major concerns” about the draft GPS in their submission.

Most interesting and concerning is a reply from Transport Minister Simeon Brown, who basically says, why aren’t you happy I’ve given anything at all to public transport.

In a statement on Thursday evening, Transport Minister Simeon Brown said the government was elected on a mandate to invest in building and maintaining roads and it would deliver on that.

“The submission also ignores the fact the draft Government Policy Statement on land transport provides significant funding for public transport with up to $2.3 billion for public transport services and up to $2.1 billion available for public transport infrastructure over the next three years,” Brown said.

“Last year NZTA provided approximately $500 million for their share towards public transport operations in the country. The range that the government has provided in the draft Government Policy Statement is between $400 and $750m. This range means there is adequate support for the public transport services that New Zealanders need.”

“It is disappointing that the authors of this submission chose to overlook the significant investment made in public transport by this draft GPS.”

Te Ara Tupua

Speaking of the Minister, he took a tour of Te Ara Tupua, the seawall to protect the rail line and motorway that just happens to have a cycleway on top being built in Wellington. He seems annoyed the project was required to improve wider environmental outcomes.

Fifty-four engineered pyramid units will be submerged in May. The units are designed to attract and accommodate fish while providing a surface for marine plants and shellfish to grow.

“It’s costing over 10 million bucks to do some underwater fish pyramids, which I think, from my perspective, you know, some consent conditions that are being proposed are adding unnecessary cost and those are the kind of things we’ll be looking at through fast-track consenting,” Brown said.

Building more homes improves housing affordability

Radio NZ reports on another research paper into the impacts of Auckland’s Unitary plan confirms it’s been working.

Auckland’s strategy to handle growth by upzoning is improving housing affordability, new research says.

The study, from the University of Auckland, indicates that about 22,000 new homes consented between 2016 and 2021 can be directly attributed to the city’s Unitary Plan.

Implemented in 2016, the Unitary Plan allowed for about 400,000 new homes to be built across the region.

It expanded the rural urban boundary, opening up more land for development, and allowed for more two- and three-storey homes in urban areas, with up to six storeys permitted close to town centres and transport hubs.

The research compared building consents in locations that were upzoned with those that were not.

It found between 1996 and 2016, about 5.9 consents were issued per 1000 residents.

Between 2017 and 2023, after the Unitary Plan came into force, there were 9.5 consents issued per 1000 residents.

Without the Unitary Plan, there would have been 43,900 consents for new homes between 2016 and 2021, rather than the actual 65,700 consents in residential zones – a 50 percent increase

Yesterday the latest housing consent numbers came out. While they are still dropping from the peak of a few years ago, the drop does seem to be tapering off. If it holds at around 15,000 consents annually that still represents a big increase on what we saw prior to the Unitary Plan.

Like A Cancer?

The Guardian reports:

Sydney is renowned for its sprawl. Its geographical size is on par with Mexico City (population 20 million), Paris (10.4 million) and Bangkok (14.6 million), but Sydney’s population of 5.3 million pales in comparison.

Now researchers have developed a model of how it spread out, likening the city’s sprawl to how cancer spreads through a human body.

Researchers used mathematical modelling to reconstruct urban growth in Sydney from 1851-2011. Along with finding that Sydney’s population size and spread has evolved in a manner similar to a tumour, they also concluded the rail system has “coevolved” with the urban population: that is, transport investment is not only demand driven – it also causes urban change.

Sydney’s development began with an initial phase of “limited growth around the city centre”. The expansion of the train network – which took off in Sydney in the 1890s – led people to move to the suburbs, expanding both the population’s size and spread.

“The more train lines you have, the more territory that can be covered,” David Levinson, a co-author of the study and a professor of civil engineering at the University of Sydney, said.

“That territory has developed more and more intensely … similar to the process by which malignant tumours form.”

Road Safety

Road deaths have been in the spotlight this week after the worst Easter in years on our roads with seven people losing their lives. Prior to Easter, March had been tracking towards having the lowest number of deaths on record for a March of any year.

The press ran this op-ed on Wednesday, ending with:

On my regular commute between the North Canterbury town where I live and Christchurch, I pass dozens of locations where I have attended traumatic car crashes in my role as a volunteer firefighter. The vast majority of those incidents bring back a picture seared into my memory, of a vehicle or two in the middle of the road, torn to pieces and with the resultant death and destruction evident.

It’s not actually a hard problem to solve. We might not get Grant’s vision of a US-style six-lane highway along the length of New Zealand, but lane separation on all main highways in New Zealand would massively reduce our shockingly high road toll.

We could achieve a lot of median barriers for the price of a few RoNS.

We also saw this interesting research from Scotland on the impact of lower speeds in Edinburgh.

We found a 10% (95% CI -19 to 0 %) greater reduction in casualties (8% for collisions) for streets that changed to 20mph compared to those staying at 30mph. However, the reduction was similar, 8% (95% CI -22 to 5 %) for casualties (10% collisions), in streets that already at 20mph. In the implementation zones, we found a 20% (95% CI -22 to -8 %) citywide reduction in casualties (22% for collisions) compared to control zones; this compared with a predicted 10% (95% CI -18 to -2 %) reduction in injuries based on the changes in speed and traffic volume. Citywide casualties dropped 17% (95% CI 13 to 22%) three years post-implementation, accounting for trend.

Our results indicate that the introduction of 20mph limits resulted in a reduction in collisions and casualties 3-year post implementation. However, the effect exceeded expectations from changes in speed alone, possibly due to a wider network effect. [emphasis added]

Pest Highways

It seems highways aren’t just for vehicles. Radio NZ reports

Hundreds of pests have been killed near Wellington’s Transmission Gully – raising concerns it has become a pest highway for the region.

Official Information Act documents given to Greater Wellington Regional Council and seen by RNZ show 226 pests were captured as part of the Transmission Gully trapping programme between November 2022 and January 2024.

These include animals such as stoats, weasels, hedgehogs, mice, ferrets, possums, and rabbits.

Greater Wellington Regional Council Chair Daran Ponter said the news was worrying for conservation efforts like Capital Kiwi and Predator Free Wellington and that current central government budgets were inadequate.

“Despite writing to Transport Minister Simeon Brown back in December, the pest control investment for Transmission Gully remains at $16,400 per annum. This is incredibly light, and the 226 animals trapped could be the tip of the roadkill iceberg along the 27km stretch.”


This could have been Queen St

This sounds a lot like light rail in Auckland

Have a good weekend.

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  1. Are there any redeeming features for S Brown?
    Apparently he has 3 children, do these people not want a future where the environment hasn’t been paved over just to shave some seconds off their private vehicle journey?

  2. Simeon Brown appears to have David Seymour’s incredible ability to offend the majority; and never apologising for his ignorance.
    Our prime minister is a former CEO of an airline that has forever been bailed out by our own government. Not quite Aerolineas Argentinas, but still hardly the private business that our current prime minister claims it was.
    Our foreign minister continues to become less educated, borderline senile, and still the most populist politician we have.
    For some reason, although these three men all live in Auckland; they have zero understanding of our greatest city. Our most populous city, our most congested city.
    I find myself prouder as a JAFA than a “Kiwi”. Perhaps because human warmth is why cities can be so magnificent. But human warmth can only be found where humanity is shared, and public transport is a vital factor, that compliments office life, and to a lesser degree apartment life.
    But we will be come a greater city with apartments and light rail; when the quarter acre fantasy is finally buried with all the other silly post defeat of the Nazis fossil fueled ideas.
    How wonderful that we have three city councils, representing city inhabitants, rather than the current government which seems to prioritise our the less educated areas of society, without offering any educational solutions.

    Gangs are bad mmm kkk…clubs are bad then…family groupings are bad??? If lost people forming their own community is evil, then we need to study history a little more closely, understanding that cult (religious) institutions and colonialism have done so much damage that a baton and taser are not going to fix it.

    I have never been involved in a “gang” because I am privileged, but I will defend gangs right to exist (except Destiny of course, being a cult), because isolation is a murderer in our country, we have horrific suicide rates; and only community can help us teach people to choose life, love, and happiness.

    This government is flaming opposition and they will need to be careful that they don’t get burned.

    Bah humbug

    1. “Our prime minister is a former CEO of an airline that has forever been bailed out by our own government.”

      The airline was not bailed out when he was CEO, in fact it made record profits every year. Over the 6 years he was CEO, the profit tripled from 200 to 600m.

      There’s lots to not like about the guy, but the failing airline story doesn’t really stack up.

  3. When the rhetoric around road speeds is to give motorists a free pass,to drive as they please,it should be no surprise that there is a corresponding increase in KSI. It’s a reckon,but that’s what the minister relys on,just the mention of increased road speeds,has had a poor outcome,what will happen when speed limits are actually increased.

    1. So a road safety program consists entirely of what the numbers on a round sign say? What about education of drivers to better understand hazards, their own driving ability and management of their own safe speed for any unique given circumstance, changing second by second?
      The situation we have now is an outcome of decades of incompetence in road “safety” management where all that governments of both political persuasions could do was chant their inane “speed kills” mantra.
      Of course, the last government’s program of “Road to zero private cars” would have held driver education as a complete anathema, in case people actually got to enjoy using their cars in a safe, efficient way.

        1. You demonstrate a level of simplicity (stupidity?) which matches the last decades of “road safety” authorities single dimensional approach, which has just resulted in more of the same appalling ignorance and lack of skills amongst Kiwi drivers. Perhaps you are among the apathetic, unaware, unskilled drivers we see in the road statistics, or maybe you are just a disinterested car hater anyway?
          If vehicles are parked then there are no accidents- of course speed is involved in accidents.
          Please wake up!

        2. Chrisb,

          When I read your comment I have to pretend you are saying the exact opposite so that I don’t go crazy. No point in counter-argument, would be a waste of time.
          How many countries in the world have you driven in? Are they all great drivers?

        3. ChrisB has a point, in that a road safety program based solely on speed limits is one-dimensional.

          Luckily the evidence based approach of Vision Zero goes much further than a number in a red ring:

          ROADS AND ROADSIDES – Yes, potholes are a problem for safety
          VEHICLES AND VEHICLE MIX – A newer, safer fleet to better standards
          ROAD USERS – Yes, education and enforcement and individual responsibility at the source of harm
          SPEED – Would you prefer being hit by a rock at 10kph or 100kph?
          FUNCTION OF THE ROAD – Motorway at 200kph can be quite safe, residential streets at 20-30kph. Design for an acceptable speed.
          PLANNING – Build for fewer and shorter journeys, free up the road with transit and active travel.

          All these together, so we can enjoy our cars *and* all the other ways we can get around.

        4. “If vehicles are parked then there are no accidents”. Unfortunately not true, if you are a cyclist. A door on a parked vehicle swung open in front of me and hurled me to the tarmac. It was down to luck that no passing vehicle then flattened me. Other cyclists have not been so lucky and have been killed. What has been done to address this massive risk due to cars? Nothing.

          Inherent in human nature is a tendency for inattention, negligence and recklessness. This has always been the case and always will be. We cannot rely on human judgement consistently to get things right, when it comes to high-risk activities such as road-transport. “Education” will not fix this, as the last 100-odd years of motor transport has shown us. Safety must be ‘engineered-in’ or else ‘regulated-in’, as it thankfully has with rail-transport, maritime-transport and aviation. You cannot just ‘do what feels good’, when operating those modes.

          The idea that education alone, can fully compensate for the fallibilities of human nature, shows a poor understanding of human nature.

  4. > We could achieve a lot of median barriers for the price of a few RoNS.

    Didn’t Labour already have a go at that and find it was too hard?

    1. The best example of the median barriers working well is the old SH1 (now SH59) along Kapiti Coast. Pre-median barrier there would be at least one crash per week, often several times a week, and multiple fatalities over the years. While NZTA wanted to double the width of the road, iwi objections over potential loss of kai Moana grounds meant that it stayed slim, just one lane each way.
      But post-installation of the median wires, I don’t think there has been a single fatality and hardly even a crash. Absolute magic.

    2. It was more that Waka Kotahi didn’t want to do it. Many of the senior managers hated the change in policy away from motorways and were sure that Labour would be a one term government so they just needed to wait them out – and though inaction it would also help them be a one-term government.

      And it worked, by holding out Labour got scared of Nationals constant motorway push and came out with the road heavy NZ Upgrade Programme (they went to the highway engineers and said asked for roads to build) and that allowed the engineers to focus on those projects instead.

      1. Meanwhile those senior planners at WK were having the time of their lives dreaming up a conga line of crazy over-specced unaffordable transport projects (the $650m cycle and walking bridge next to the Auckland Harbour Bridge for example) seemingly designed to make the hapless Labour transport minister look like a total numpty.

        1. Oh won’t someone think of the succession of poor ministers who were just undone by those dastardly public servants and not at all just out of their depth having been caught out for making sweeping promises of things they had no clue how to actually make happen.

          The congaline of crazy came from the Labour campaign manifesto. If anything WK probably had to up their game dramatically.

  5. And Tomorrow is the 3rd Birthday of the Te Huia service between Hamilton and Auckland and Hopefully it will servive after The end of June . This was it’s first day of the running ;-

    1. Bye Bye to Te Huia for sure in July! Not a sustainable & efficient service to run at all! Can’t wait for service to be ‘discontinued’!

      If you were going to have Te Huia to operate in long term, do it properly! Think about the quality of service for passengers! Requires Pukekohe-Te Rapa electrification and new Regional EMU units, Not Hybrid Trains for Wairarapa & Palmy, which are outdated Toyota Corolla’s breaking down easily and be unreliable.

      1. What data are you using to say it’s not sustainable or efficient?

        The data needed is that of costs and ridership moving forward. Do you have such data to base your opinion on?

        Unfortunately, many people have been misled by figures that include Covid-affected ridership and the start up costs, which simply reflect the “managed decline” of the network, and become more and more trivial each year.

        1. You don’t need data to figure out whether it’s going to be unsustainable or efficient, you literally can figure out by doing calculations estimates. And base calculations fast, quick and simple. Not slow, scheming around to be a protectionist.

          The problem with you intellectual idiots is that, you’re out of touch with society wants & desires, that’s why you see yourself in National coalition world now. People want fast, quick, frequent & convenient journeys! Not slow, stale, scheming around like weird fiddly untrustworthy people.

          Either way, Te Huia, can’t wait to see you go! Or see electrification Te-Rapa-Pukekohe to service EMU units. Be like Airtrain Brisbane-Gold Coast, runs every 30 mins, of each day. Or even like Melbourne-Geelong. Normal service-non hassle service, fast & frequent.

      2. The hybrid trains are still four years away, where on earth are you getting the idea that they are unreliable and breaking down easily?

      3. Anon ;- to start with have you ever traveled on the Te Huia ? . I’m guessing NO , so try it one day , say before the End of June , and then you can see what it’s like , and then go back to your Buddies The Fat Controller Luxon and his Side Kick Simpleton Brown and do a trip report as those 2 Clowns have never been on it or near it even when invited to do so with free Tickets that were on offer .

        As for it being slow then have a go at the controllers off the Auckland Network , as there were 2 days that I was on it it arrived early into Papakura and then was held up for 15 and 10 minutes before it could continue on it’s way to the Strand

        And at the beginning of this video the 1st scene is at Rotokauri at 6:10 am in the Morning waiting to go to Auckland and the Airport and after it left Huntly there were around 95plus on Board and that was after a number that got off at Huntly .

        And thank you Heidi for having a shot at him .

        1. I never will ride outdated rusting bucket and glad to never will ride! Thanks for suggestion!

          Luxon & Simeon knows it not good idea for Te Huia to keep running outdated train long-term, not value for money, not breaking-even in money and getting wider benefits from it.

        2. Anon ;- with a comment you have proved to me that you are a TOSSER .Who just likes to comment through Social Media without going into the big wide world and trying something different or even new .

          And these have more goings over than you precious Tin Can you drive around in and all the trips I done in them I have not seen any rust or other things that you imagine in your small mind that might be wrong with them .

          And I have a strange feeling that you didn’t watch all or part of the Video except for what is on the screen , and the way you are talking you sound like two other people that use to comment here i.e User Pays and A national Supporter or something , as you can see with the videos I post I use my name not some rubbish like you use thatyou can hide behind .

  6. Does anyone know what the bright green trees are on the eastern side of Transmission Gully? They look like broccoli or perhaps broccolini.

  7. I have to say that as much as I disagree entirely with this government’s transport priorities, at least they have some spine and some momentum. The last six years of Labour involved progressive ideas being proposed and then killed off at the first sniff of any opposition. If only we could have a government with the same amount of courage as this one, but with a lot more sense!

    1. Seconded.

      The previous government had a decent amount of brains transport-wise, but not much spine. We could have had Auckland surface light rail, new trains for the Wellington region and parking fines at a sufficient level to drive behaviour change, if they’d had the courage of their convictions.

      The current government’s transport policy is brainless and evil but they do seem (unfortunately) keen on making it happen in the face of near-universal opprobrium.

  8. Thinking about LR: we may never know the real reason that surface was abandoned, but is it possible that it would never have got consent? Its pretty hard to get anything through the RMA, putting a new surface level train through a suburban area with noise and vibrations way into the night sounds like the kind of thing that the RMA would not allow? I mean you can’t even have more than 6 concerts at Eden Park per year!

    1. Seems like exactly the kind of problem an absolute political majority should have been able to steam-roll.

      I suspect the reason SLR was abandoned was because there was a preference early enough in the process for metro that not a lot of work on SLR actually happened; ergo there probably wasn’t much fleshed out in the way of a plan to pivot back to.

      1. Let’s say the proposal was a motorway in suburbia – an absolute political majority should be able to steam-roll it? For some people (probably not the typical commentator here), the idea of a train a few metres from their doorstep is just as bad. There are a number of residential houses directly on Dominion.

        1. Again, not enough detail to know. We also got the deferred Auckland Council zoning decision based on the future ALR corridor, so we can’t say for sure that the potential upzone benefits would have actually been crystalised. But I wouldn’t have thought double-lined trams running in the corridor would be comparable to a motorway on your front door, given how wide the existing road is already and that there’s already bus lanes along big chunks of it. I would have thought the biggest long-term issue would be the removal of almost all of the roadside parking along Dom Road itself, but that’s something that people living on arterials in other bits of Auckland seem to be deal with.

        2. I think you’re on the money Jimbo. As much as I think the SLR plan was great the reality is it would have been a very dramatic change in conservative suburbia. I suspect that is why the government put it in the too hard basket (although that basket was getting pretty full by the end of their term).

        3. Surface Light Rail should be an easy sell, not at all a difficult one. It has been proven in so many other countries, NZ has access to:
          – examples of how streets were improved with light rail,
          – hilarious international examples of NIMBY resistance which, given the positive outcomes, would help explain how unfounded local resistance is,
          – more democratic methods for making decisions,
          – sound advice on how to update NZ’s transport planning methodology, and how to overcome organisational conservatism
          – research into the negative impact of biased media and advertising, and how to manage that.

          Labour acted as if all this information was unreachable or irrelevant or simply didn’t exist.

          National now has the chance to show themselves more capable. And National has indeed sometimes managed to progress things that, under Labour, faced opposition (including from National). Transport could be such a case. National could now be making straightforward progress on safety, modeshift, climate planning and city regeneration within transport.

          They won’t, of course; they are instead following Simeon’s death cult transport policy. But it is a pity.

        4. Although Wayne Brown is an innate Conservative he is at least educated in problem identification , and solving.
          Road capacity, using cars supplemented by buses, is simply inadequate out of, and through, the central isthmus areas, already.
          Let alone, for the further inevitable intensification.

          An alternative is required. And not merely widening existing roads.

          And hopefully Wayne Brown, like Len Brown before him, is prepared to take on the “Roads not Rail” lobby groups head on, and persist to persue, proven high capacity, space efficient, and low emissions alternatives. Alternatives to the increasingly congestion prone car based solutions only being offered by our current Government.

          Labour, stuffed up, at Central and Local Government level by being far too timid. Resorting to yet more enquiries and reports as an out to actually doing anything, and in doing so ruffling the required feathers.
          Phill Goff and Michael Wood were just chronic underachievers.
          Pleasant but useless.

          The enormously succesful Northern Busway happened because it was strongly championed. And because it was a really good idea.
          I am sure to the Central Rail Link will enjoy a similar or even greater, success. For exactly the same reasons. To this we will thank Len Brown long after the build disruption is forgotten.

          Wayne, I am sure you would not champion anything just to be remembered by.
          But growing congestion in the central isthmus requires a change away from just building bigger roads.
          It needs an engineered solution just to use the existing roadway space much more effectively to move people, not just vehicles.
          Just like you have already seen in Sydney and on the Gold Coast.

          And I believe have the attributes, to be pesistant, like Len before you, to overcome the detractors, to get this done.

        5. Heidi – Yes an easy sell to the majority, but the RMA doesn’t care what is good for the majority. It only takes a few naysayers (I know a few that live in that area that hated the idea of light rail), and the RMA would be completely on their side as their environment was being adversely affected. Maybe the government or council could have overridden it, but that is a bad look (its pretty subjective – noisy motorway = bad, noisy train = good – could National do the opposite?).
          I just think there has to be a reason that Labour persisted with tunnelled LR when it was such a stupid idea, this is the only one I can think of.

        6. Jimbo: I’d say it’s far more likely the driver of the tunneled proposal was that if you tunneled all the way to the Harbour then it strengthened the case for tunnels under it, which certainly seems like a semi-reasonable inference given the loaded exercise of the AHWC ‘consultation’ that massively downplayed the cost of tunnel when compared to a bridge that could have run surface LRT alongside other active modes.

        7. Surely they knew they would never be able to build the tunnelled option? How could NZ ever afford it? That is a lot of money for cities 10x Auckland’s size and a long project that the opposition party said they would cancel. Any why would you choose LR for a tunnel?
          I think they couldn’t own up to the fact that another major promise was unachievable after Kiwibuild, so they they kicked the can.

  9. It was the speed and grade separation of the tunnelled version that drove it in my opinion. Don’t inconvenience cars, safety, speed.

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