Talking business with Anthony Haas

Kieran McAnulty’s Labour offers regional funding

Kieran McAnulty


Labour candidate for the Wairarapa electorate Kieran McAnulty says “In some ways, a regular commuter service into the capital city is the envy of other districts. Wairarapa is well positioned to attract new residents and businesses due to our proximity and connection to Wellington. However, it is the success of local councils in promoting Wairarapa as a place to live and work that has lead to the train service no longer being fit for purpose. The three commuter services are oversubscribed, people using these services already exceed 2019 projections.

In the weekends, there are only two return services. This does not help Wairarapa’s potential as a tourism destination.

We need more improved capability for the commuter services and increased services off-peak, including weekends.

The easiest solution is for Central government to identify this as a priority and provide the funding required to complete maintenance of the track and upgrade services.

Andrew Little identified the Wairarapa rail service as an example of a project that could benefit from Labour’s Regional Development Fund.”

What would Labour offer for the Manawatu Gorge?

McAnulty says the news is a real blow. It affects Wairarapa, Tararua, Hawke’s Bay Palmerston North and Woodville, where residents and business owners facing uncertainty are screaming out for answers. They want to know what plans are available and these concerns have largely fallen on deaf ears.

When he visited Woodville after the announcement he faced shock and worry from business owners and workers. One business owner thought he was the MP, which he says, speaks volumes about current National mp, Mr Scott’s inactivity over the last 3 years.

While these alternative routes allow traffic to and from Manawatu, the closure of the gorge acts as a disincentive to make this trip. Attractions such as Tui Brewery and Pukaha Mount Bruce see a reduction in visitors when it is closed. This in turn affects businesses right down Wairarapa.

The candidate says he can see no reason why the Government doesn’t offer support to those business directly affected by the closure, as they do in Kaikoura.

A long-term solution for the Manawatu Gorge has been sought for years. Numerous examples of slips have affected the gorge in years gone by. The most notable of those was the 2011 slip which closed the gorge for 14 months. That slip cost $20m to fix, with a further $10m in upgrades or maintenance to alternative roads.

This type of expenditure is unsustainable. While the cost largely comes from NZTA’s emergency works funding, over time the cost of a viable solution would be easily met by the amount spent on fixing and preventing slips in the gorge.

2012 NZTA report highlighted alternatives to the gorge. The longer this is delayed the more expensive the solution while the Saddle Road and Pahiatua Track receive far more traffic than they were designed for. In the case of Saddle Road, the costs of upgrading and maintenance now falls on NZTA. The Pahiatua Track however still falls to the Tararua District Council which places an unfair strain on what is a council with a very small rating base.


Talking business with Anthony Haas

Gorge Slips add to Challenges of Trains

Kieran McAnultyChris LaidlawAlastair Scott

Labour’s regional funding may help Wairarapa

Mid year Talking Business’s columnist was asked by a reader to focus on challenges facing train services between Wairarapa and Wellington. Greater Wellington Regional Council chairperson Chris Laidlaw spelt out some of the challenges and suggested it was a topic suited to attention during the current election campaign. Kiwi Rail agreed there were challenges. Labour party leader Andrew Little spoke in Carterton on the state of the Wairarapa. We followed up with questions to the Labour candiate Kieran McAnulty whose views on trains and the gorge we report in this edition of the Greytown Grapevine and here on our website. Candidate McAnulty took some partisan pot shots at the National party mp for Wairarapa Alastair Scott. We started to let it be known we would welcome comments from all political parties on blockages facing transport in and around the Wairarapa.

Greater Wellington Regional Council chairperson Chris Laidlaw says “The biggest [issue] is the inadequacy of the line on which minimum maintenance has been carried out for years in spite of regular requests to KiwiRail to include the work in its budget. We are repeatedly told that the business case for this work doesn’t stack up.”

A KiwiRail spokesperson told Talking Business “Funding for public transport is primarily an issue for Greater Wellington.”

Laidlaw says he has discussed both these issues with the three Wairarapa mayors and agreed a collective approach to the government on improving the line.

We now ask for the policies of relevant parties on issues such as train services and Manawatu Gorge replacement. We also ask what parties would say to the idea that they work together to try to find the solution to the train and gorge blockages.