The existence of 110,000-volt un-insulated lines over Te Ariki Park, owned by Ngāti He hapū, and across Rangataua Bay were installed 60 years ago and have a long and sometimes sorry story behind them.
The Crown Law office stated the installation was illegal. The line is now said to be close to collapse, with significant safety implications. A number of parties, including Ngāti He, the Maungatapu Marae, and the local community claim that a number of subsequent agreements with Transpower and its predecessor have not been honoured.
Consent from local authorities
The Tauranga Moana Management Plan, in Clause 15.2 states that this original line was to be re-routed ‘along the state highway and the bridge’. The line was never relocated.
Now Transpower has obtained consent from 2 local authorities to demolish it and erect a new line 250 metres away beside the highway, but on additional new poles, up to twice the height of existing poles, and rather than being routed along the bridge, by Trustpower’s cheapest option which is to sling the conductors (cables) across the Bay, beside the bridge, between an 11 storey pole beside the Marae, and a 14 story pole on the Matapihi foreshore opposite.
Position of the new line
The new line would be ‘right in the face of the Marae’ according to Marae Trustee Tai Taikato. Transpower have offered the Marae a PA system so that speakers can be heard on the Marae’s front lawn over the hum of the conductors.
The poles would also be visible from Devonport Road, Memorial Park and even NZTA say, clearly from its offices in Harrington House. Submitters opposing the erection of these galvanised super-poles beside the harbour, also intruding on the beautiful view of Tauranga people see when arriving in Tauranga along this stretch of highway over the Maungatapu Bridge, would blight the environment for the next 70 years.
A group of people concerned about the abuse of the rights of the Maungatapu Marae, the visual impairment of the view of everyone using the bridge and nearby, have formed the Tauranga Environmental Protection Society Inc ‘to promote and protect both the natural and built environment in Tauranga’.
The Society has appealed the Commissioner’s decision to grant consent to Transpower on behalf of our local Council’s to the Environment Court where it will be reheard. A myriad of legislation exists governing what Transpower may and may not do in a sensitive area such as this.
The land on either side of the harbour where the super poles for the lines strung across the harbour is designated as being of ‘Outstanding Natural Feature and Landscape (ONFL). It also contravenes the ‘NZ Coastal Policy Statement’, The ‘Regional Policy Statement’, and ‘The Regional Coastal Environment Plan’. It is even contradictory to Transpower’s own policy that new HV lines in urban areas will be buried. Transpower has stated that this is not a new line, it is the maintenance of the old line 250 metres away. The Society’s appeal also claims that Transpower’s Proposal is contrary to Policy 4, 6, and 7 of the ‘National Policy Statement on Electricity Transmission’.
Finding a solution
The Society has expressed its goal that both local authorities and two state-owned enterprises, Transpower and NZTA will all sit around the table to discuss their own goals and responsibilities in this location, and how a cooperative approach could go a long way to achieve these and minimise costs and adverse effects on others.
The Society believes there is a solution which would result in (i) the reinstatement of amenity, safety, and traditional rights on both sides of the bridge to Ngati He, (ii) safety improvements to the Maungatapu Bridge in accordance with the new Government Policy Statement on Land Transport, (iii) a more secure and lower maintenance HV cable for Transpower and (iv) access for pedestrians and cyclists between Welcome Bay, Ohauiti, Polytech, Hairini, and Maungatapu with the CBD and Bayfair to bring effect to Tauranga City Council’s Cycle Plan.
It is hoped that these Council’s and State-Owned Enterprises will show a willingness to work outside their silos and identify a win – win situation for all parties. Maungatapu Marae Trustees and Ngai Te Rangi Iwi have joined the Appeal. The Society is pleased that Transpower’s Counsel and Company Secretary David Knight has visited Tauranga to discuss the situation with it in a constructive manner.
Other parties mentioned have also agreed to meet to explore this opportunity and we hope that a good outcome can be achieved before we have to ask the Environment Court to rule on the matter.
By Peter McArthur, Chair Tauranga Environmental Protection Society Inc
“Tauranga Environmental Protection Society really appreciates the interest and support given to it by the team at Bay Waka to help our city grow well!”