This is the submission of the Wellington Civic Trust Incorporated to Parliament’s Transport & Industrial Relations Select Committee on the National War Memorial Park (Pukeahu) Empowering Bill. We wish to speak to this before the Select Committee.
- The Civic Trust applauds the Prime Minister’s announcement on 7 August that the National War Memorial Park (NWMP) would go ahead by passing over part of SH 1 rather than, as previously decided, be cut right across by the road.
- The significance of the target completion date of Anzac Day 2015 has been known for the last 50 years or so, in particular since the 2004 decision to create the National War Memorial Park on this site. This has given ample time for orderly planning and due process by those responsible for making the Park happen. Now, with 130 weeks to go, it has been decided that urgency means that normal resource management and public works law must be set aside.
- Such urgent bypassing of established law is wrong in principle. It is not something made necessary by an earthquake or by some unforeseen condition. So long as an appropriate National Memorial to the dead of all wars is the primary goal, we reluctantly agree to the Bill’s intent if Parliament is convinced that without it the participants would not be capable of achieving the task.
- We recommend that the Bill be amended for improvement along these lines:
- Part 1s.3(1) describes the Bill’s purpose as ‘to empower the creation of the NWMP (Pukeahu) adjacent to the National War Memorial, Carillon, and Hall of Memories… to ensure its completion by April 2015… while also ensuring the integration of the Park and roading networks within the wider City of Wellington’. In terms of both this wording and of the enduring values involved, the priority purpose must be the creation of an appropriate NWMP as part of (not just ‘adjacent to’) the area legislated under the National War Memorial Act 1992, with a secondary purpose of meeting ceremonial expectations of the Gallipoli centenary: and, only after that, its fit with the city roading network, more specifically the northbound Road of National Significance.
- Hence s.1 of the Bill should be retitled the National War Memorial Act 1992 Amendment Bill to reinforce its primary purpose and to make clear that this is not in effect mainly a technical measure to expedite roading works.
- For similar reasons, s.3(1) ‘Purpose’ should be re-expressed more positively as ‘The purpose of this Act is to empower the creation of the NWMP (Pukeahu) appropriate to the quality and function of the National War Memorial [as defined in the 1992 Act] to ensure its completion by…’
- Part 2 s.9(5) presents an almost impossible conflict of interest for the Ministry. It should be expressed more positively as ‘Despite s.17 of the Historic Places Act 1993, the Agency or the Ministry shall make every reasonable endeavour to liaise with the NZHPT (Pouhere Taonga), without requiring prior consent in writing, before engaging any person…’
- Schedule 1 Resource consents: the Wellington City Council (WCC) has an obviously close involvement with achieving the purpose of the Bill, but is virtually sidelined by its wording. The WCC has much more value to the success of the Bill’s purpose than is shown by its inclusion under s.36(2)(f) as just one of many entities on the ‘Community Forum’ to which the Minister must ‘have regard’ (s.36(3)) but with whom there is ‘no requirement to consult’ (s.36(4)). The Council of the Capital City has much more than just a technical / consents relationship with the NWMP project including a financial commitment. A minimalist way of acknowledging this would be to amend s.3(2)(e) to read ‘to provide a process which involves the WCC in the independent certification of…’. We understand that WCC has put forward the concept of a ‘partnership agreement’ with the Agency and Ministry for this project we support identifying this in the detail of the Bill. While a partnership agreement is not precluded by the Bill, it is central enough to its core purposes to warrant inclusion and thereby reinforce the intent of the Capital City Initiative launched by the Prime Minister and the Mayor in 2009.
- Schedule 10 Figure 2 [WMP01] shows a ‘cut and cover underpass envelope with park over‘ of about the same width as the existing Buckle St, whose whole width is used as the northbound-only lanes of SH1. There is still some popular belief that SH1 will, as an outcome of the ‘Roads of National Significance’ project, run both ways along the alignment Karo Drive NWMP new Basin Reserve overbridge to solve congestion by grade separation over local traffic. Schedule 10 suggests that this is not intended and that the southbound (towards Airport) route of SH1 will continue to run as it does now through inner-city streets and Kent Terrace. We have sought confirmation of this from NZTA but at the time of writing (6 September 2012) have not had a response from them. So – we can only assume that, should in the future SH1 become 2-way along the Karo Drive Basin Reserve overbridge alignment, the NWMP will have to be closed and dug up for more road trenching, so risking a repeat of the current saga. Does this detail of the Bill accurately reflect Parliament’s expectation of how the Road of National Significance will traverse inner Wellington?
- s.36 Community Forum: entities of this sort can easily become ‘whitewash’ despite the good intentions of those who commit time and energies to them. The Civic Trust was in 2009 promised such a ‘Community Forum’ by NZTA about its Basin Reserve area (including NWMP) projects and, unsurprisingly, nothing happened. At the very least s.36(4) ought to be deleted and replaced with the more constructive wording ‘The effectiveness of the Forum shall be explicitly monitored by the NWMP review panel set up under s.27 of this Act’.
- While the present wording of s.36(2) does not preclude the inclusion of a representative of the Wellington Civic Trust, we believe that our purpose and ‘track record’, being more than just ‘representing the interests of local residents’, justify listed inclusion. Hence we recommend adding a further clause s.36(k) ‘Wellington Civic Trust Incorporated’.
These comments are offered as constructive improvements to both the end purpose of the Bill and to its technical clarity. We are happy to provide any further information or comment.