Expressway Jobs Where?

GuruGuru — Transport Agency should give local businesses a fair go

By K Gurunathan (Guru)
KCDC Councillor and Mayoral candidate

Local nursery industry advocates are crying foul that multi-million dollar contracts could be in the process of being dished out by NZTA to companies as far north as Whangarei while local nurseries are left struggling for business.

Up to $20m dollars worth of planting could be up for grabs.

The Mackay’s to Peka Peka Expressway project was supposed to create local jobs and local economic benefits but that does not seem to be the reality in this case.

Local nursery industry advocates say they have the technical capability and physical capacity to supply most, if not all, the plants NZTA needs to mitigate the massive project.

But NZTA is giving its multi-million dollar business to companies elsewhere.Kapiti Road and Expressway

I urge NZTA to introduce a weighting in the tender process for local nurseries and give locals a chance.

The NZTA, local MP and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy as well as Prime Minister John Key have claimed the Expressway will create 1000 jobs.

When challenged, NZTA has not been able to give details on how many of these jobs will be for Kapiti residents. A significant number of these jobs should be for locals and not solely for people elsewhere!

I am told a $100,000  tender for the collection and storage of eco-sourced seeds, and possibly test planting, has already been given to a company from north of Whangarei.

The company has not even set up a base in Kapiti, preparing instead to set it up in Palmerston North. The tender to supply 1.5 m plants is expected to go out later this year.

Statistics NZ’s industry figures show that from 2005 to 2012 the number of nurseries in Kapiti dropped from 14 to 4 and its workforce from 80 to 20.

Lynton Allen of Lynwood Nursery says a substantial commercial plant project is required to enable local nurseries to reverse the trend and to recover financial vitality to become a sustainable supplier for the future needs of this region.

“The expressway project will provide the local nursery industry the assistance it desperately needs,” he says.

Mr Allen, who operates out of Te Horo and Ohau, says local nurseries have the ability to pool their resources together to meet the demand and provide a sustainable supply of plants for the region now and for the future.

I support that vision. Given the proper partnerships, and the pooling of technical skills and capacity Kapiti could be developed as a supplier for this stage as and for the next stage from Peka Peka to Otaki as well as the northern end of the Transmission Gully project.

I have written to Mr Nathan Guy to alert him of this potential within his electorate and urge him to take this matter up with NZTA.














I agree with the angst over the importing of native plant contracts out of our region.

Living as I do in the midst of the Te Hapua Wetland, both I and other neighbours who share the complex were approached off the street for permission to source seeds to grow for the damage restoration the Express way will require in the coastal and wetland environment.

One neighbour was surprised to come home after shopping to find two people on her property scouting around the wetland perimeters. When they called on me I asked them why they were sourcing seeds. They were genuinely trying to collect eco-sourced seeds for the express way contract and said they’d been asked to grow 10,000 selected wetland species over a 3 year contract. When asked what remuneration the land owners would receive, they were vague. “Oh we can give you a few of the plants sourced from your place back.” Apparently these contractors were paid handsomely to receive the basic tools of trade for their contracts for almost nothing. Yet those of us who have spent a decade restoring our wetlands have spent several thousand dollars – some of it via heritage grants from KCDC in purchasing locally grown plants – some of them from voluntary sources such as Forest and Bird who grow their own.

Is KCDC going to benefit from the funding it supplied from which those seeds originated? Is the landowner going to benefit from a “few” plants and wait three years for them? Is our region genuinely going to get all of those eco sourced plants when there are several other regions in the country needing restoration from bulldozers and highways?

Most of all, what about our local nurseries. Is this business being taken away from the very people who know the area, know the correct flora for various landscapes and certainly in three years could, I’m sure, provide the numbers required. And probably healthy too without the delivery costs involved and also grown in the environment in which they will be placed. The people that came to me said there was much competition as the nations ‘ big brother’ nurseries vie for the contracts.

So the expressway is meant to benefit the Kapiti Region? I wonder if there are spin offs in other areas of its construction which will deplete our local income opportunities if this is an example. How many imported workers will be granted the wages if the powers that be don’t give Kapiti first dibs. And will they be staying on when the contract is completed??

Sometimes I feel as if we have robots making the rules and decisions that affect us all. A shame they don’t have better lenses in their glasses.

A lot of the expressway work will go to the fat cats, John Keys rich mates. Bring back an open tender process where all can price jobs/work and see the results at the end of the process, knowing forwell it’s all been above boards.

This is just further confirmation of my belief that this expressway is not FOR Kapiti, but something that the National Government wants to do TO Kapiti.

Combine the fact that few of the jobs will go to Kapiti residents with the fact that we already have a shortage of rental housing for locals, and the presumption that many of the workers planned to build this monstrosity will come from elsewhere, and I see a housing crisis added to the other massive negative impacts of this project.