Is the behaviour of NZTA Wellington appropriate for a Government Agency?

After a year working alongside NZTA over their plans to bulldoze the valley.  We’ve learnt a lot about NZTA, and not all of it is nice and respectful.

Things are getting bad. Government Agencies should work within decent standards, but things came to a head yesterday when our MP Peter Dunne front footed the unethical behaviour used by NZTA in Wellington.  This is serious stuff when blackmail is being accused.

Hon. Peter Dunne said:

“…The worst and most arrogant dinosaurs are those quasi-government bodies who somehow think the Government’s policies do not apply to them, and that they can just carry on doing what they have always done. The worst, by a country mile and then some, is the New Zealand Transport Agency which, leaving aside its precious and downright silly pronouncements on road safety, regards itself as a complete law unto itself when building new state highways is concerned, as my constituents in Tawa and Takapu are presently finding out.


NZTA’s sublime arrogance in proceeding with a link road proposal the neither local people, nor local authorities want or think is even necessary is breathtaking in the extreme. But what is more repugnant is NZTA’s clumsy attempts at blackmail –threatening to withdraw funding from the widely supported Petone to Grenada road unless it gets its own way on the link road.


If NZTA cannot understand and respond to the depth of local feeling on this issue, then maybe it is time to unceremoniously dump its current entire board and senior management and replace them who fully understand – and support – the concept of Better Public Services.”

Full text at:

This is not the first time Hon. Peter Dunne has called out NZTA’s behaviour, here is another of several:

Is this the tip of the iceberg?  You decide:

  • We’ve sat in Regional Transport Committee meetings and heard the unelected NZTA representative directly threaten elected representatives to either do as they’re told otherwise funding will be reviewed, and also denegrate public consultation by saying that it didn’t matter what the Regional Council thought anyway as she’d be taking matters to the NZTA board directly and the Regional view had little relevance anyway.
  • We seem to have caught out NZTA staff using underhanded tactics to influence public opinion – this coincidence with a Murray Carpenter seems too unlikely.  A complaint has been laid with the State Services Commisson.
  • The treatment regarding OIAs is bad.  One request to merely establish the RoNS status of the project took 2 letters, 4 ombudsman interventions and over 200 days, to elicit a 2 line reply.  So bad in fact that in the Ombudsman’s government wide review of OIA behaviour, NZTA have been given special attention, and the Ombudsman has requested they use this example as a case study.  There has also been bullying of OIA requesters by phone after hours trying to make them go away.
  • And of course, there is this well known bullying tactic by NZTA in Wellington where funding to other projects would be pulled from WCC if NZTA didn’t get their way
  • Very hard to get NZTA to front publically.  When pushed by our local MP and Councillors to attend a public meeting, the senior NZTA official finally agreed but required conditions before he would (like only written questions he could vet, and no interjecting), presumably because when you’re a bully you fear bullying?
  • NZTA’s standard operating procedure is to play communities off against each other by presenting 2 competing proposals that impact 2 communities that will invariably fight each other.  We were contacted by other communities to warn us, and that’s exactly what happened.  It’s harsh and brutal, and it’s hard work to avoid this manipulation.

What we see now is NZTA is a Government Agency not prone to listening.  It comes in over the top of regional planning layers, flops down it’s plans, creates total regional disruption and then uses coercion or blackmail to get it’s way past widespread local and regional concerns and plans.  This is exactly what it has done with Petone to Grenada and the last minute Takapu Valley tack ons.

They say ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely‘. Perhaps when you walk around with the power of the Public Works Act in your back pocket, that power does corrupt the culture of the organisation that welds it?

Is it time for this to change? Perhaps Peter Dunne is right to stick his neck out like this – it’s a very serious issue for NZ.  Hopefully the Chief Executive and the Board of NZTA will take note?.