by Coman Tait

The press release by Kapiti Improvement Society, an organisation with over 3,000 supporters, has alerted us to the financial catastrophe the Gateway is shaping up to be.  Kapiti Improvement Society has exposed a number of  fundamental flaws in the process for ‘Te Uruhi’. 

Mayor Gurunathan and his Tight Five councillors — Holborow, Cootes, Buswell, Hanford, and McCann — have voted for the most expensive way to build the Mayor’s sacred Gateway.

Here are examples of misinformation. On the one hand they say the Gateway“ will consist of two small accessible building pods.” Small and simple. Yet two paragraphs later it is a highly complex building. The reason for a simple pod becoming a highly complex project? KCDC can only use the ECI contract if it can say the building is highly complex. 

KCDC then exonerates itself from responsibility for the false claim of complexity by saying it is the tender documents’ fault for the building suddenly becoming complex: “The tender documents stipulate the building must be relocatable… This could involve elements of modular construction, offsite fabrication, or other innovations”. The fact is the Council’s own rules have required buildings be relocatable for foreshore properties for more than a decade.

KCDC goes on to suggest off-site fabrication is an amazing innovation. Most kiwis know of school prefabs that have been around for 70 years. Guru and his Tight Five should know this and should have rejected such misinformation. KCDC says another complex is the “further requirement [of the tender documents] is that the building must meet a high standard of accessibility for people living with a disability.” Every public building in NZ has had to meet this requirement since 2001 when NZS 4121:2001* New Zealand’s accessibility standard on public buildings came into force.  All this was known when the Mayor told the Provincial Growth Fund the project was ‘shovel ready’ 16 months ago.

KIS pointed out the Government’s own guidelines on procurement and all the expert evidence shows ECI contract is totally inappropriate for 2 small pods.  However, Mr Mallon says the opposite. Guru and his Tight Five have refused to challenge the unsupportable facts of Mr Mallon: “This early input reduces the number of potentially expensive changes made further along the process.”

The KIS press release points out that the ECI is only to be used in highly complex building projects. International law firm Ellison Minton says this is so. Yet KCDC concluded the opposite saying, “Using an ECI contract reduces costs”. The Aquatic Centre costs blew out from the original forecast of $6 million up to $23 million.  

Mayor Gurunathan and his Tight Five et al have deliberately chosen to ignore the real facts.  They have voted to accept a process which, on the past performance of KCDC is likely to cost millions. There was the Paraparaumu Beach blow out, the Otaki blow out, the Aquatic Centre blow out, the Waikanae Library and Paraparaumu Community Centre debacles and closures. By voting to go ahead, residents have lost their legal rights under the RMA. 

Finally, there is the democratic failure: Mayor Guru and the Tight Five have ignored a massive petition of over 3000 people opposing this ego-driven project. 

NZS 4121:2001 is New Zealand’s accessibility standard on public buildings: it outlines what is required to make sure buildings open to the public are accessible to disabled people. This includes ensuring there is an accessible path from outside the building to all the main areas open for public use in the building.