A Proclamation by any other name is just a public statementBy Bianca Begovich
Just one week after work began at the Otaihanga roundabout on State Highway One (SH1), several landowners at the Raumati South end of the proposed Kapiti Expressway have had their property ‘acquired’ by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA).
And two weeks ago, a small advertisement less than two inches square was placed in the back pages of the Dominion Post. It read:
LT GEN THE RT HON SIR JERRY MATEPARAE, GOVERNOR-GENERAL
Pursuant to the Public Works Act 1981, I Lieutenant General The Right Honourable Sir Jerry Mateparae Governor-General of New Zealand, hereby declare the land described in the Schedule to be taken for the functioning indirectly of a road and vested in the Crown on the 14th day after the date of the publication of this Proclamation in the New Zealand Gazette.
‘God Save…The Queen‘
Area Description…. Issued under the Seal of New Zealand… July 2013
Hon Maurice Williamson, Minister for Land Information
GOD SAVE THE QUEEN!
The Otaihanga work has been ostensibly marketed in the name of ‘safety improvements’ but in my opinion is more likely to be for the facilitation of truck movements to- and from- the proposed Expressway construction site at Otaihanga (otherwise these ‘safety improvements’ would have been done years ago, along with many others on that part of SH1).
Similarly, the land ‘acquired’ by NZTA under the Public Works Act is supposedly for the benefit of the greater good of the wider New Zealand community.
Many readers will be aware of the myriad of arguments put forward by SaveKapiti and dozens of others as to why the proposed Expressway is not for the ‘greater good’.
The arguments emphasise the social impacts, the environmental devastation, the economic inadequacies, the stagnation of traffic volumes nationwide and the fact that there is a far better alternative approved by the District Plan which was endorsed by NZTA themselves.
‘Filling the pockets’
They all present a picture of an Expressway proposal which is not for the benefit of wider NZ but is instead set to fill the pockets of a select few in the construction, trucking, banking and National Party lobbies.
It is no surprise that the Raumati South landowners have had their property taken. Many of us are aware that the Government’s ‘think big’ infrastructure projects can take land using the Public Works Act at any time.
But what may be surprising is how this process actually occurs. By befriending the people of this community, I have been privy to this process.
The tiny advertisement that removed landowners’ rights
Two weeks ago, that small advertisement was placed in the back pages of the Dominion Post — heralding the road proclamation.
What this means is that the landowners no longer own their land whether they like it or not. There is no recognition of the years of negotiation, stress and devastation these people have experienced.
There is no right of reply or opportunity for people to speak to Jerry or Maurice about the deal. There is simply a notice of a date that, like clouds in the sky, passes without any fuss or fanfare.
Except of course, for the people who have lost their land. I have witnessed their attempts to negotiate within impossible situations. I have witnessed their reasonable demands which have been thrown aside by NZTA and replaced with laughable valuations of their properties. I have seen the disillusionment of the ‘little guys’ and the arrogance of the people working for NZTA.
NZTA’s ‘heavy-handed tactics’
NZTA doesn’t want you to know about their heavy-handed tactics. They want you to be intimidated by the word ‘proclamation’ which really just means ‘an official statement’. They don’t want you to know about their lack of compassion or confusingly inadequate negotiations.
When putting forward this Expressway proposal, NZTA’s assurances of a fair deal spewed forth like coins from a slot machine. But what has become clear the longer the ‘negotiations’ go on, is that what is promised and what is delivered are two very different stories.
Information changes from one correspondence to the next, the amount of land required can be all your property at one stage, then later none of your property and then only a corner (nearest your house) by the final proposal. Letters to the Minister of Transport simply ‘never get received’
The Government has marketed the proposed Kapiti Expressway and their several other Motorways of Madness as the panacea for New Zealand’s economic and congestion woes.
But New Zealanders will be reminded of the inadequacy of the Government’s infrastructure plans every time they are waiting for one of the estimated 100 trucks a day to negotiate the Otaihanga roundabout.