Northland infrastructure bid gaining support
Wednesday 12 Feb 2020
The Mayors said there would be no port expansion northwards into Whangarei Harbour, with Northport being required to expand its current operations only east and west. The new four-lane highway and double-tracked railway must also be suitable for the electric and hydrogen vehicles of the future, they said.
The Far North’s John Carter, Whangarei’s Sheryl Mai and Kaipara’s Jason Smith were commenting after the first week of Kia Kaha Northland, a campaign for Northlanders to say yes to five major projects that will connect Northland to Auckland and the world and transform the regional and national economies. High- level decisions on the five projects will be made in the next 112 days.
“The response from Northlanders, Aucklanders and people from all around New Zealand to Kia Kaha Northland has been absolutely extraordinarily positive,” they said.
“We have had support from right across the political spectrum, from Maori and Pakeha, from farmers and city-dwellers, from chambers of commerce and community volunteers, and from Northlanders from southern Kaipara to Cape Reinga.
“More than 117,000 people have engaged with our content on Facebook, over 25,000 have watched our first video all the way through, and over 3000 are now formally backing Kia Kaha Northland by liking our page.
“The message is overwhelmingly that central government needs to get on and make the Big Five happen – for the benefit not just of Northland, but of Auckland and all of New Zealand.”
The five projects Kia Kaha Northland is campaigning for are:
1. A $240 million dry dock to enable ships from New Zealand and Australia to be serviced and repaired in Whangarei rather than have to make the long trip to Asia.
2. A new base for the Royal New Zealand Navy to replace that at Auckland’s Devonport.
3. An expanded Northport to take the cars and containers currently entering New Zealand through the port in the Auckland CBD, and for exports from Northland and elsewhere.
4. The completion of a four-lane expressway from Whangarei to Auckland, including the planned four-lane highway to Port Marsden.
5. Fast-tracking a double-tracked rail line from West Auckland to Whangarei, including the planned spur to Port Marsden.
“The most common feedback from Northlanders so far is ‘yes, make the Big Five happen, but make sure you protect our environment, cultural heritage and unique Northland way of life’,” the Mayors said.
“We agree 100%. None of the Big Five will be allowed to happen willy-nilly. They will be carefully regulated by the Northland Regional Council, Patuharakeke Te Iwi Trust Board and iwi, and every Northlander who loves our region.
“As Northland’s mayors, we will be the first to board the protest vessels or go to the barricades if there is any serious risk to our marine or land environments, cultural values or unique Northland way of life.
“Northlanders can be assured that the four-lane highway and double-tracked rail line must be suitable for electric and hydrogen vehicles, and that Northport will be New Zealand’s most modern port, among the world’s cleanest, greenest, lowest- carbon and most sustainable.
“There will be no port expansion northwards into Whangarei Harbour, with Northport being required to expand its current operations only east and west.”
The Mayors said the first-week response to Kia Kaha Northland, for which no ratepayers’ funds are being used, had exceeded the campaign’s forecasts, but there was still a long way to go.
“Bluntly, outside the excitement of Waitangi week, the Wellington bureaucracy ignores Northland and no politician of any party colour will ultimately press go on the Big Five unless Northlanders say loud and clear that we want them,” they said.
“We need all Northlanders to support Kia Kaha Northland by liking it or following it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or by emailing, calling or writing to the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and our local electorate and list MPs. We need to make 2020 Northland’s year.”
Photo credit: NorthPort
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