Another $84 per family to visit Kapiti Island!

By Christopher Ruthe

Kapiti Island GatewayThe Mayor is selling the Kapiti Island $4.6 million Gateway project as a splendid idea. He convinced the previous Council to spend $1.4 million on land he said would be great for the Gateway project. That money is already gone. That white elephant is not being used for the Gateway. So how does the Mayor’s latest investment project rank among all his splendid ideas?

It will cost ratepayers

The $4.6 million is a guestimate. Remember the Aquatic Centre that went from costing $9 million for a 50 metre pool to approximately $22 million for a 25 metre pool, and the estimated income was double what was actually achieved? Going on past performance, expect the same again.

He wants to give it get priority ahead of restoring the Waikanae Library for instance. Why?

The Mayor claims $5.4 million per annum benefit to Kapiti economy. There is nothing I can find in a report KCDC has received that supports that figure. However, it clearly states that it will cost ratepayers a minimum of $300,000 in the next 3 years.

The projected income for KCDC starts at $256,000 per annum, increasing to $350,000 in the next 4 years. The report on the project does not say where the money comes from, but presumably from visitors to the Gateway. If 14,000 visit the Gateway that is $18.28 per person, add GST $2.72, and everyone will be paying $21 — on top of the existing ticket price. If customers baulk at paying this, undoubtedly the ratepayer will have to pick up the tab, just as it is subsidizing each swimmer $13 at the Aquatic Centre.

Projections based on false figures

The projections for use of the gateway are based on up to 58,000 visits to the Island according to In a feasibility study was completed by Tourism Research Consultants Limited (TRC) for Council.

I have spoken to DOC and they say there is no ability to have such an increase in numbers. The Conservator said there had to be a significant restriction on numbers for conservation reasons.

DOC is not paying

Kapiti Island 1The Department of Conservation should be paying for what is a bio security facility. It is paying nothing. The boat companies are paying nothing. The accommodation owners are paying nothing. None of these parties who have a direct interest want to pay. Why, because they now adding $84.00 for a building for ticket sales and bio-security is a fundamentally flawed idea.

I referred DOC to not only the number projections, but also a Council Report saying DOC will double the width of the existing track, and will build a series of alternative tracks so visitor numbers can increase to 58,000.

The Conservator said he had no knowledge of such plans and would be surprised if DOC would agree to such large scale works on a conservation estate.

The Covid-19 economic reality ignored

No consideration has been given to the economic impact of the lockdown, with tens of thousands facing unemployment, and discretionary income likely to be hit. KCDC has sought no expert advice on reduced foreign tourists and the detrimental effect of each visitor paying an extra $21 for an island visit.

Refusal to meet current obligations

The Council is already highly indebted. It refused to bring its library book budget up to the NZ standard because it pleads poverty. It has put off the Waikanae Library for up to 10 years. That library is shut due entirely to the negligence of Council staff and previous councilors failing in their governance duties.

Rather than sort that out, this new Council seems hell bent on forking out subsidies for out-of-town visitors to have a nice departure lounge, Their interest far outweighs that of Ratepayers who are basically library-less in Waikanae. Perhaps the intention is to close it forever? A number of anti-library councilors got dumped in the last election. Do the few remaining ones continue to hold sway?