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The Conservation Motorway


The builders of the new Transmission Gully Highway are required by NZTA to adhere to the most stringent conservation measures during construction of the new 23 kilometre motorway between Linden and Paekakariki, scheduled to be completed by April 2020. 

Speaking at Plimmerton Rotary on 12th July, David Low, Chief Executive of Wellington Gateway Partnership, the organisation leading construction and future maintenance of the new road, spoke in detail about the environmental requirements embodied in the huge project. “From the start we have been bound by comprehensive conditions around protection of the environment, not only along the route itself but in the area around it, which includes the Pauatahanui Inlet. For example, we have strict guidelines as to the amount of runoff from the project that is allowed into the inlet.”

In Transmission Gully itself, the streams which flowed from the Wainui saddle, one to the north and one to the south, were required to be “de-fished”, and the 4500 fish stored in special tanks, while construction was carried out through the gully. Once completed, the streams would be reinstated along a new route away from the motorway, and the fish would be reintroduced to the streams. “Also in the gully area, directly in the path of the construction that will take place, there was a colony of about 50 lizards living among some large boulders. We have been required to catch the lizards, shift the boulders, and reinstate the lizards.”The construction itself had already started in earnest. In the coming summer of 2016-17, a large number of earthmoving machines would be brought on site to begin shaping the path of the new road. “We will bring most of these in from Australia because there aren’t enough here in NZ for a project of this size. We have permission to work 24/7 during the summer months provided we do not cause annoyance to the neighbours. Fortunately that means we can work at night in most areas encompassed by the project.” Mr Low noted that all major works would need to be completed in the next three summers. “This is because during the fourth summer, 2019-20, we need all of that time to lay the foundation for the roadway, put the tar seal in place, and install guard rails, lane markings, lighting and so on.”The highway would be four lanes wide except for the steeper sections which were all similar in gradient to Ngauranga Gorge and would contain a fifth crawler lane on the uphill side. “The gradient of these steeper sections is actually 8%, which is the steepest allowed for a motorway by NZTA. These sections will be: the climb up to the Wainui saddle from the MacKays Crossing side; a short section behind Porirua; and also the on-off ramp between Linden and Kenepuru Drive. All other parts of the highway will be of gentle gradient.”

Construction would involve the building of 27 bridges and culverts, the largest of which would be a bridge behind Cannons Creek. This bridge would be 230 metres long and 70 metres high in the middle. “In fact this is the same height as the distance between the roadway on the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the sea below.”Mr Low estimated that the new road would take 20 minutes off the average drive time between MacKays Crossing and Linden. “It will be a top quality highway. At the height of the project we will have around 600 people on site. This has to be good for the local community – these workers all have to eat and drink somewhere and be accommodated. Please take care of our workers, especially when travelling through Linden. The 80kph signs are there for the safety of our people. Please observe the temporary speed limit through this area, and keep our people safe.”

You can watch a Fly-through video of Transmission Gully here.


The Globe Trotting Veterinarian

Leigh Corner, a recent arrival at Plimmerton Rotary, introduced himself to Club members on 12th July. Leigh is originally from Melbourne but has also lived and worked at one time or another among buffalos, wallabies and feral pigs in northern Australia; possums in New Zealand; badgers in Ireland; and white tailed deer in Michigan USA.

Leigh graduated from Melbourne University with both Bachelor and Master degrees in Veterinary Science, following this up later with a PhD in Epidemiology. He developed an intense interest in how disease can cross over from animals to humans, also how to arrest the spread of tuberculosis in animals. His research showed that to eradicate tuberculosis from cattle in northern Australia the buffalo population had to be all but wiped out because they carried TB present in the buffalo. Leigh noted dryly that he had the dubious distinction of having a wallaby worm named after him.

From Australia he moved to New Zealand to do a PhD at Massey University on TB in possums: vaccination and the epidemiology. From there Leigh moved to Ireland to find ways to improve the health of the local badger population which were also infected with TB, but unlike other animals he’d worked with, they were highly valued throughout Ireland,  the UK and Europe.  During his time in Ireland he helped to design the research program in Michigan USA, where white tailed deer were also afflicted with TB. 

These days Leigh lives with his wife Laurie on their lifestyle block in Pauatahanui “along with some cows, sheep, ducks, chooks, and about 40,000 bees.”

2016 Changeover
For those of you who missed it, as well as for those who'd like to see it again, Past President Adrienne's visual display at Changeover is available to watch here (available to members only). It was a great night, crowded to the gunwales with a crowd of supporters of Peter's from his days at Wanganui South Rotary.  


Talent on a shoestring
Well done, Jenny, for capturing the essence of the wonderful concert put on by Virtuoso Strings on 2 July. You can read the blog she's written and relive the wonderful performance put on by the children of Porirua. Donna reports that Michele Whiting and Sose Anandale, principals of Corinna and Russell Schools both told her after the concert how proud they are of their students.

Celebrating two District Grants
We applied for two District Grants at the end of last year. Read the excellent blog that Nick Walmsley has written about our successful application to grant a scholarship to support one of the many disadvantaged young women in Svey Rieng, Cambodia. Our second successful application was to support the Shine Literacy project for primary schoolchildren. You will remember that Joy Allcock came to speak to us on 10 May and we learned how much financial support would be needed for the project to continue. Congratulations to the team who put together the applications and achieved a successful outcomes for both.

Our young scientist
You'll remember that we sponsored Hannah Creary to the National Science Summer School in Auckland during the summer holidays and listened to her when she told us all about it at our meeting on 8 March this year. She said, ' has taught me that if you are truly passionate about what you do, you will inspire others.' I discovered that Hannah and a group of her fellow science students at Aotea College were passionate about helping primary school children in Porirua to enjoy science and understand it better. They've been working to make their dream a reality. We've kept in touch and this is an excerpt from an email I've just received from her. '.... I volunteered on Tuesday night at the science expo at Windley School, putting together an experiment testing pH with household items, and represented Aotea College. It was such a fantastic event ... This week I'm in Dunedin volunteering at various events at the New Zealand International Science Festival'. What an impressive young woman. We'll be able to catch up with her again when she joins the Mana Zonta team at the Celebrity Debate on 21 August about which she says, 'definitely a new kind of challenge for me but should be great'. Make sure you get your ticket for the event.

International Youth Exchanges
Helena departs from Wellington Domestic terminal on Saturday 16 July about 2.00 pm, and Laurie Boytard, our new student from Amiens in France, arrives in Wellington on Wednesday 20 July at 3.55 pm on Qantas from Melbourne. If you can welcome her at the airport that would be great. She's only stopping over in Melbourne so she will probably be very tired. She will spend the first few days getting orientated with her Counsellor, Cath Berryman, before moving to her first host parents, Michael and Judy Parker. 

Wellington on a Plate 2016
Trish Brown, AG for Hutt 2, has invited members to one or both of these two functions.

  • Global Pinot from a Gladstone Producer Lunch hosted by Johner Estate, Avila Bar, Featherston Street, Tuesday 16 August, 12.00pm - 3.00pm, $125 per person.
  • Simply Red Dinner, Le Cordon Bleu School, Cuba Street, Friday 19 August, 7.00pm – 9.30pm, $115 per person

And next week ...
We're having a Forum. This is your opportunity to hear what the various committees have in mind for the year ahead and to bring along your own ideas.

The Conservation Motorway

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