Rūnaka warns council over peninsula road upgrades

Ōtākou Marae members concerned about the state of Harington Point Rd on Otago Peninsula are (from...
Ōtākou Marae members concerned about the state of Harington Point Rd on Otago Peninsula are (from left) Makareta Wesley-Evans, Natalie Pohio Karaitiana, Moana Wesley and Edward Ellison. They want an upgrade on the peninsula to carry on until completion. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
Failure to complete the Ōtākou section of an Otago Peninsula road-widening and safety project would be considered a major breach of faith, the Dunedin City Council has been warned.

Te Rūnanga o Ōtākou has urged the council to include the work in its long-term budgeting.

The council has battled to secure national funding for work beyond Portobello towards Harington Point, which had already been pushed to the tail of the project.

The parts of the project that had been completed, including development of a shared path beside the Otago Harbour for much of the peninsula road, had been generally well received.

Rūnaka upoko (head) Edward Ellison said the unfunded Ōtākou section was quite narrow, featured a sharp corner and had been eroded by the sea.

"We’re concerned for the community and road users and want to reduce accidents in our area", Mr Ellison said.

"It’s quite a dangerous stretch of road."

Use of the Ōtākou Marae had also increased, he said.

Mr Ellison raised concerns about national and local officials or politicians suggesting linkages had been completed.

"Those statements shouldn’t be made", he said.

Cr Christine Garey also highlighted this at a council infrastructure services committee meeting this month.

Mr Ellison wrote a letter on behalf of the rūnaka to Dunedin Mayor Jules Radich last month, making a series of points.

One was that the original plan showed the Ōtākou section being done ahead of sections between Dunedin and Macandrew Bay.

The rūnaka was approached by the council to reverse the order — "not to abandon the Ōtākou section but alter the order of implementation", Mr Ellison wrote.

It had agreed to the council’s variation.

"We did that for the greater community good", Mr Ellison told the Otago Daily Times.

In his letter to the mayor, Mr Ellison said failure to complete road widening and enhancement of the peninsula road, particularly at the Ōtākou section, "would be a major breach of faith on the part of the Dunedin City Council".

A response to Mr Ellison on February 9 said "our chief executive has asked staff for an update on what is being included in the draft 10-year plan budgets and will provide a more detailed response once she has that information".

Since then, it has emerged the council could defer preparation of its long-term plan by a year. It is due to make a call on this today.

It is unclear how this might affect the status of what remains of the Peninsula Connection project.

Expenditure on the full project to the end of June 2022 was $69.1 million.

The NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi contributed $39m to this.

At one point, the council put forward the unfunded section as a shovel-ready project, but this was not taken up under the previous government.