Christchurch’s $260,000 Public Transport Campaign “Meaningless” Consultation

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
May 09, 2024 |

A public transport campaign described as “meaningless” by a road safety campaigner cost $260,000.

The Urban Growth Partnership for Greater Christchurch was established by local councils, mana whenua, and the Crown to “collectively plan for the future growth of the region.”

Under the then Labour government, the partnership created a 2023 campaign, Huihui Mai which included a potential “turn up and go” mass rapid transit system, among other spatial plans.

Costs released to Chris Lynch Media, reveal that Christchurch PR film Great Scott was paid $195,980.00, Cross-Polynate, which claims to “combine collaborative leadership and indigenous participatory approaches to build social connectedness that enables youth development” was paid $30,000.00, Wanaka based company Mcelrea Consulting Limited was paid, $29,381.00, Research First got $1,500.00, and the Make Collective Limited received $3,850.00.

This, despite the fact that all of the councils involved have communications staff.

A seminar shared on Youtube about the plan received 421 views.

Transport Minister Simeon Brown wouldn’t be drawn on whether Huihui Mai was value for money but said “I have made my expectations clear that transport authorities and local government need for focus on value for money and delivery, including in how they consult.

“If engagement is required to be undertaken, then it ought to be genuine and include local businesses and communities that will be affected by any changes.

“Consultation and engagement with the public is an important and often legally required part of the work we do in delivering transport projects and programmes” Brown said.

During the six weeks of the engagement, over 7,000 people filled out the online survey, with additional feedback collected at drop-in sessions and workshops.

NZTA contributed $90,000 of the cost to the Huihui Mai consultation, with the remainder paid for by Environment Canterbury, Christchurch City, Waimakariri, and Selwyn District Councils.

Road safety campaigner Clive Matthew-Wilson said it was important that public consultation was genuine. 

“Consultation is meaningless if the outcome is already decided. Often, so-called public consultation is just a formality; an unelected group decides what the future will bring, then holds a so-called public consultation because they’re legally required to do so.

“These consultations tend to attract networked activists, with their own agendas that may conflict with the majority of people who live in that city.

“These activists swamp the local government with submissions, while a large percentage of the public is probably not even aware that the consultation is taking place.”  

Matthew-Wilson believes most voters will support policies that are well explained, fair and likely to improve their city.

“For example, many voters strongly support improved public transport. But the shambles surrounding the recently-cancelled Dominion Road light rail  in Auckland  should be a warning to both politicians and voters” he said.

“Many voters feel that town planning has been hijacked by people who wish to impose their own agendas on everyone else.”

“The end result is widespread distrust in governments and a sense that democracy is meaningless. Also, despite the fact that many urban planning policies are presented as road safety improvements. In fact, these policies generally make no difference to the worst road safety offenders, such as ram raiders, boy racers and teenagers who flee from police” Matthew-Wilson said.

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

Have you got a news tip? Get in touch here

got a news tip?