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Auckland councillor, residents, industry groups against congestion charge



Aucklanders, councillors and industry groups alike are concerned there are not enough alternatives for people to get to work, without paying a proposed congestion charge.

Mayor Wayne Brown is lobbying a time of use charge between $3.50 and $5 a trip for travel during peak times on State Highway One between Penrose and Greenlane, and State Highway 16 between Lincoln Road and Te Atatu Road.

The council’s transport and infrastructure committee will meet to discuss it on Thursday.

Congestion costs the city an estimated $1.3 billion a year. But there is concern the charges will hit the worse-off the hardest.

Auckland city councillor Alf Filipaina told Checkpoint that there was work to be done on consultation.

He pointed to the number of Ports of Auckland employees who had to come from local socio-economic areas to work downtown.

“(Brown is) saying they need to change their ways of travelling and the times – but they don’t dictate what time they have to be at work.”

He said the same applied to those who had factory jobs “to put food on the table”.

It was essential to talk to the communities, employers and people who would be most affected by the charge.

“Give them the ability to start early or start late to get out of the congestion – but you do need to consult because it affects a heck of a lot of people and their livelihoods.”

Filipaina acknowledged that losing the regional fuel tax – as promised by the National Party – would have an impact on the city’s finances.

Alf Filipaina is being recognised for his services to the New Zealand Police and the community.

Auckland councillor Alf Filipaina says affected communities needed more consultation over the planned charge. Photo: Auckland Council

“All the money was going… into transport. Now, if we lose all that money … it’s going to be put onto the ratepayers. This (congestion charge) may be a way but there’s a lot of water that needs to go under the Harbour Bridge … before any implementation of it.

“The man (Brown) knows he’s only one out of 21 people that will make that decision so at least we’re not implementing anything tomorrow.”

Checkpoint also spoke to several Aucklanders for their views on the charge.

Emily said it was “outrageous” because not everyone could choose when they started and finished work.

“Firstly, we need more access to public transport and probably more affordability for that as well.”

Simon said he thought congestion charges only worked in cities with viable alternative transport options.

“It seems pretty steep. I don’t know what it is overseas but … if you’re doing that everyday, with no other way to do it, then ($5) would be quite expensive.”

But Brown said it was a way to encourage people to behave differently.

Exemptions and discounts to the charge were being investigated but “this equity stuff is bollocks”, he said.

“I’m frustrated with excuses around tradies and school children. Tradies I know would be welcoming this – they’d be getting into town 20 minutes faster for a small fraction of their hourly rate.

“I believe school children should have choices: Walking, cycling, buses, not only using the motorway. Though it is obvious some scenarios of exemptions need to be considered.”

He said emergency vehicles, buses, motorcycles, and scooters would be exempted from the charges, and those on low incomes could receive a discount.

“Residents, gold card holders, and mobility vehicles could also be considered,” Brown said.

“It’s also worth noting what I’m proposing here is a switch: Getting rid of the regional fuel tax and putting in place a time-of-use charge so many people will be paying less overall.”

He said the charges would come alongside big investments in public transport and roading network.

“The CRL will play a big role here by doubling our train capacity, as will the moves we are making with buses: The Northern Busway is going great, the Eastern Busway is underway, and a permanent Northwestern Busway is the next priority.

“We will also be looking at improving the Mangere-to-Airport route. We are implementing more dynamic lanes and will be using more transponders on buses to signal light-traffic signals when a bus approaches. There is a lot of work already underway here.”

Brown said the next phase of the work would be more detailed.

“I am of the view that this should be on our motorways in the central areas of Auckland, which are the most congested, and this is also where public transport works best, which gives some people an option rather than paying the charge.

“But this will be confirmed in negotiations with the government over the legislation required.”

The Ministry of Transport said Auckland’s population was projected to increase to at least 2.2 million by 2045, placing pressure on transport networks, reducing performance and increasing congestion.

Automobile Association Auckland issues spokesperson Martin Glynn said congestion charging had its benefits, but saw flaws in the plan.

“Five dollars for a worker who’s coming in, in the morning peak and going out in the afternoon peak – that’s $50 a week. That’s a lot of money for a lot of people, particularly low-income people, and a lot of them aren’t working in the city centre. People who work in industrial zones, in particular, don’t have really good public transport options available to them.”

Public transport campaigner Niall Robertson said the new service was exciting and hoped the route would extend further into Auckland in the not too distant future.

Niall Robertson says the charge makes sense if alternative modes of transport are available. Photo: RNZ / Gill Bonnett

Public Transport Users Association chairperson Niall Robertson said there needed to be appropriate alternatives for people who did not want to pay the charge, or could not.

“If it’s just going to take the congestion from the motorway and put it onto the other arterial routes of the city, it’s not really achieving much at all.

“However, the principle is good provided the alternatives are there. The alternatives really need to be in the form of very, very efficient and easy to use public transport, and that’s not really altogether the case at the moment.

“They probably need some extra railway lines into Auckland a third and fourth. There are plans for that, but I think those plans are after the time of the congestion charge and the bus systems work reasonably well, but they would probably really need to be look look very closely at those timetables.

“How are they going to upgrade the arterial roads so that they’ve got enough bus lanes to actually cope?”

Robertson said the council needed to start showing Aucklanders what its plans for public transport were, because at the moment “it’s foggy”.


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Christchurch terror attack inquest: ‘Significant blind spot’ relating to St John’s specialist paramedics – coroner



A woman who was forced to leave the side of her bleeding husband following the terror attack at Christchurch’s Linwood Islamic Centre only discovered he had died the following day after seeking help from then-prime minister Jacinda Ardern.

Saira Patel’s husband Musa Patel was one of seven people who died after being shot at the Linwood Islamic Centre, following the massacre at nearby Al Noor Mosque on 15 March 2019.

Supported by her son, Patel told the inquest into the deaths that she and her husband were praying in separate parts of the mosque on the day of the attack.

Patel said she thought a tyre had blown when she heard a loud bang. A baby began to cry, and she could soon smell gunpowder.

She yelled, “Someone is shooting, someone is shooting” as people ran to escape.

When Patel found her bleeding husband, she told the Coroners Court she could hear him saying his “last prayer” as if he knew he was about to die.

Imam Hafiz Musa Patel

Musa Patel died at Linwood Islamic Centre on 15 March 2019. Photo: Facebook/ US Embassy Suva

She said she was forced to leave when police arrived and started treating Musa Patel, an order that distressed her to this day.

“I think any dying person who is about to leave this world would be very desperately craving and needing to be close to their loved ones. My presence during his final moments would have made a big difference in my life and I think maybe his last moments of departing this world,” she said.

She did not know her husband had died until the following day, when she approached then-prime minister Jacinda Ardern, who led her to a counsellor.

Patel said the counsellor showed her a photo of an unidentified man in hospital who was not her husband.

“I knew then that my husband was dead. There was no-one else who could have identified him, and this last unidentified man was my last hope,” she said.

Patel thanked the doctors and paramedics who did everything they could to console her husband in his final moments.

“I would like to thank them from the bottom of my heart,” she said.

“I was trying to be with him in that last moment but maybe they were chosen to be with him.”

Dr Alison Wooding from nearby Piki Te Ora Medical Centre was one of the doctors who treated Musa Patel when staff went to the mosque to help the injured.

She told the court he was meant to be the first victim taken to hospital but realised he had died after he was moved onto a stretcher.

Wooding said she and others were talking to Musa Patel the entire time they cared for him, but she did not recall him ever responding.

Police officers gave evidence on Tuesday saying Musa Patel had been able to communicate with them at first but his condition deteriorated over time.

Wooding told the court she felt apprehensive and worried about the situation at the mosque, but safe and protected between armed and vigilant police officers.

29th November 2023 Iain McGregor/The Press/Pool Christchurch Masjidain Attack Coronial hearing. Coroner Brigitte Windley.

Deputy chief coroner Brigitte Windley. Photo: The Press / Iain McGregor

‘Significant blind spot’ relating to St John emergency response team – coroner

The coroner has queried a “significant blind spot” in the way St John ambulance officers work with specialist paramedics trained to work in dangerous situations.

Deputy chief coroner Brigitte Windley questioned St John duty manager Bruce Chubb about the organisation’s response massacre.

Two Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) paramedics were among ambulance officers who went to the scene of the shooting in Linwood Avenue.

No-one from St John attended the Al Noor scene in a SERT capacity.

Chubb told the Coroners Court that SERT teams worked under police and it was not uncommon for St John not to know when they had been requested, where they were, or what they were doing.

In response, coroner Windley said: “My concern is that that creates a significant blind spot for St John, doesn’t it?”

“Isn’t it that these are critical resources in terms of closing that care gap for people who are dying and injured and being able to get a response in, and you’ve got no visibility about where they are and even if in fact they’ve been deployed?”

041223 CHRIS SKELTON Witness, Bruce Chubb from St John command and control during the Christchurch terror attack inquest held at the Christchurch Justice precinct.

St John’s Bruce Chubb. Photo: Stuff / Chris Skelton

Chubb said he was not suggesting it was “okay” that St John did not know where SERT officers were but said it was the practice at the time.

He was not aware of any changes to the SERT policy since the terror attack.

Chubb told the coroner he thought it was “always nice to know” where resources were, to which she replied, “I would suggest it’s more than nice to know. I would suggest that St John needs to know”.

Chubb earlier told the inquest that he believed general ambulance officers should not have entered either mosque immediately after the shootings because of the safety risk.

Windley said the court was concerned St John ambulance officers had to breach the organisation’s policy in order to get an emergency response in place.

“Do you agree that that’s fundamentally a problem?” she asked.

“Yes,” Chubb replied.

Earlier on Tuesday, Chubb told counsel for families Kathryn Dalziel that the terror attack was a catastrophic event that he did not expect and was never prepared for.

“I don’t believe any of my colleagues were either, so it was fundamentally overwhelming,” he said.

The inquest will examine the following 10 issues over seven weeks:

  • Events of 15 March 2019 from the commencement of the attack until the terrorist’s formal interview by police
  • Response times and entry processes of police and ambulance officers at each mosque
  • Triage and medical response at each mosque
  • The steps that were taken to apprehend the offender
  • The role of, and processes undertaken by, Christchurch Hospital in responding to the attack
  • Coordination between emergency services and first responders
  • Whether the terrorist had any direct assistance from any other person on 15 March 2019
  • If raised by immediate family, and to the extent it can be ascertained, the final movements and time of death for each of the deceased
  • The cause of death for each of the victims and whether any deaths could have been avoided
  • Whether Al Noor Mosque emergency exit door in the southeast corner of the main prayer room failed to function during the attack and, if so, why?

The inquest continues.


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Protests raise questions about next year’s Waitangi day



In the wake of protests over the new government’s policies on co-governance and the Treaty, the head of the Waitangi National Trust Board says it is important Treaty partners front up and have a conversation on 6 February.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon says he intends to visit for Waitangi Day, as does ACT’s David Seymour.

The protests taking place across New Zealand on Tuesday were part of a “National Māori Action Day”, led by Te Pāti Māori and iwi, to challenge the government over its policies on the Treaty of Waitangi, and other policies affecting Māori.

Waitangi National Trust Board chairperson Pita Tipene expected for that sentiment to flow through on Waitangi Day.

“Clearly, the Māori people see it as an attack on the Treaty of Waitangi and the constitutional basis of this country,” Tipene said.

These include switching from Māori to English names on various government departments, rewriting legislation to make mentions of the principles of the Treaty more specific, and progressing an ACT bill calling for the principles to be set down under its own prescription, rather than decades of jurisprudence.


Ngāti Hine leader Pita Tipene

Ngāti Hine leader Pita Tipene Photo: RNZ

Tipene told Checkpoint there was no invite list for politicians per se, and the doors of the Trust were open for all to come along.

“Given that it is a Waitangi Day commemorations period, it’s really important that the Treaty of Waitangi is the focus, and therefore the Treaty partners should front up and have a conversation.”

He would be disappointed, but not surprised, if parties in government were not represented there on the day.

“It has happened before where governments or political parties have chosen not to front up at Waitangi.”


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Te Pāti Māori protests – Day of action focuses on new government’s Māori policies



Police says protesters are causing widespread delays at key transport networks around the North Island, but there have been no arrests so far.

A police spokesperson says commuters should allow travel time this morning, with Te Pāti Māori’s planned protests disrupting travel routes.

There are large gatherings in Tāmaki Makaurau and central Wellington, along with a number of other cities and towns.

The spokesperson says Auckland motorists are advised there are heavy delays on parts of the motorway network this morning.

The demonstrations are in response to Te Pāti Māori’s call for action against the new government’s policies on co-governance and the Treaty.


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