Driving To Deliver Your Business

Two sides of the road: Horowhenua residents' opinions on new highway divided

WARWICK SMITH/STUFF

Otaki farmer Bill Hunt hopes the new expressway will go elsewhere. Two Horowhenua residents will lose land to an expressway no matter which of the nine proposed routes is chosen. One of the men fears life as he knows it will be ripped from him as a highway impinges on the farm he’s nurtured for decades.

Another man accepts that progress comes at a price that will see his fourth-generation farm split by the tarseal pathway. Bill Hunt and Peter Staples both have childhood memories that are now clouded by the proposed expressway.

WARWICK SMITH/STUFF

Bill Hunt, 78, has lived on his farm all his life.

That could soon change if an expressway from Otaki to Levin goes ahead there. In early February, the New Zealand Transport Agency released a shortlist of nine options for the £100 million-plus Otaki to north of Levin roading project, which will connect to the Kapiti expressway. READ MORE:
* Former prime minister’s home could be in way of Otaki to north of Levin highway[1]
* She sold her house for the expressway – now her new one might be wanted too[2]
* Shocks for home owners on Levin’s eastern edge[3]
* Letters sent to Levin residents whose properties may be in way of new highway[4]

The shortlisted options all begin at Taylors Rd north of Otaki and end just north of Levin. There are three southern options and three northern options.

Two sides of the road: Horowhenua residents' opinions on new highway dividedWARWICK SMITH/STUFF

Bill Hunt, 78, has lived by State Highway 1 since he was born. But Hunt and Staples’ properties will be affected no matter which route is chosen as they’re on a strip before it forks off into three options.

For Hunt, his patch of land is all he’s known. The 78-year-old has lived by State Highway 1 since he was born. He still farms every day and has no plan of giving it up.

Two sides of the road: Horowhenua residents' opinions on new highway divided

The New Zealand Transport Agency has released the shortlisted corridor options for the Otaki to north of Levin project.

He was “shocked” to hear his family home and his current home could be demolished. “I couldn’t believe it. I was so upset.

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“[My] roots are here. It’s devastating.”

Hunt wanted the road to go to the west of Levin as there were fewer homes on that side, he said. But the western side has been ruled out due to “significant environmental and cultural implications”, the transport agency says.

Two sides of the road: Horowhenua residents' opinions on new highway dividedWARWICK SMITH/STUFF

Peter Staples’ land is likely to be split by an expressway. Years of memories and hard work have gone into the farm.

He’s planted native trees for birds to perch on and his cows have nearly 100 hectares of land to enjoy. But, for now, Hunt had to “soldier on”. Decades ago, Staples used to ride his pony from Manakau to Otaki to grab an icecream at the local shop.

His choice of transport has changed since then, but the love for his land hasn’t. Staples is sad about the prospect of losing his land to the Government, but he accepts it as he looks to a brighter future for his children.

Two sides of the road: Horowhenua residents' opinions on new highway dividedWARWICK SMITH/STUFF

Peter Staples’ home is pictured, top centre, behind him.

It could be gone to make way for a highway. “The road’s not for me – it’s for my kids and my grandkids. They will get the benefit of it.

“We’ve got to look at the positive.” Staples lives at Manakau Heights Drive with his wife Margaret, opposite a 140-year-old homestead on a 100-hectare farm that he owns.

Two sides of the road: Horowhenua residents' opinions on new highway dividedMARK COOTE

A view of the Peka Peka to Otaki expressway works under way south of the Otaki River, looking south. Part of his land and homestead are set to be replaced by the highway.

Depending on which way the route continues, his home may be gone too. But the district was growing and the highway needed to go somewhere, Staples said. “You can’t stop progress.

There’s no point in me getting wound up and bitter and twisted about the whole situation, because it doesn’t do you any good.” People were thinking about their little patch rather than how the road could help future generations, he said. Both men want the process to go ahead swiftly as they say waiting is the worst part.

Transport agency regional relationships director Emma Speight said advice on a preferred option would be presented to the agency’s board in mid-2018.

– Stuff

References

  1. ^ Former prime minister’s home could be in way of Otaki to north of Levin highway (www.stuff.co.nz)
  2. ^ She sold her house for the expressway – now her new one might be wanted too (www.stuff.co.nz)
  3. ^ Shocks for home owners on Levin’s eastern edge (www.stuff.co.nz)
  4. ^ Letters sent to Levin residents whose properties may be in way of new highway (www.stuff.co.nz)
  5. ^ Ad Feedback (stuff.co.nz)



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