Puhoi On, CBD Link Not (Update)


UPDATE: Len Brown’s reaction: “The rail link is vital for AKL & NZ - council and govt will explore a range of funding options to make it work.”

The Puhoi Holiday Holiday will still happen – but at this stage the government has made no decision to fund the CBD rail link “at this point.”

Transport Minister Steven Joyce has told parliament that he has told Auckland Mayor Len Brown that his public transport aspirations for Auckland “will not be any easier to fund” since the Christchurch earthquake.

“Nothing will be easier to fund as a result of the additional cost of the Christchurch earthquake.”

Referring superficially to the CBD link, Mr Joyce said: “The Government has made no decision to fund that project at this point and it would not be funded from the National Land Transport Fund.”

He had been asked specifically if he informed Len Brown, that the earthquake-related transport costs means his Government will not be supporting the mayor’s public transport aspirations, such as the central business district rail link.

Mr Brown visited parliament last week, supposedly to discuss the Auckland Spatial Plan but may well have grabbed the opportunity to talk about his rail hopes.

Labour’s new transport spokesman Shane Jones then asked the minister whether he would abandon his favoured project, otherwise known as the “Holiday Highway” and at a cost of $1.7 billion, and divert those funds to the more valuable purpose of restoring Christchurch’s transport infrastructure.

The Minister replied: “No. The Government will not be adjusting its roads of national significance programme, except perhaps in relation to some timing matters. Those seven projects were chosen on the basis of their contribution to economic growth in New Zealand, their improvement of journey reliability, and their contribution to safety. I would have thought that the member as a Northland MP may have been focused on economic development in Auckland, but perhaps not.”

Through tunnel "not at this point"

The Minister says the latest guess for how much it will cost to restore the Christchurch road network is around $400m – up from $300m considered earlier.

“In the context of the approximately $3 billion available annually in the National Land Transport Fund, that current estimate is manageable and will not cause any dramatic issues in the shape of that fund.

“The cost is likely to be spread over 4 to 5 years, but again I would say the timing is very much dependent on the extent of damage to underground services and the time frame for repairing that damage.”






  1. John Dalley says:

    All i can say Joyce is “This is War”
    It should come as no surprise to the greater Auckland community that the only way to advance PT in the Auckland is to remove this National government from office.

  2. Jon C says:

    @John And replace them with…. ? Have you a credible alternative in mind?

  3. Cam says:

    @Jon nobody could be worse. Seriously.

  4. damian says:

    Excellent, this great news for the industry. Not sure myself it is a good idea, but it will be welcomed by many

  5. Patrick R says:

    damian, what industry? Saudi oil exporters? Big trucking?

    Joyce is telling, and endlessly repeating, the big fat lie that RoNS will help the economy. RoNS are an anchor holding the country, including Northland, back. You’d be better off distributing $2Billion to the people up for the good this will do….

    This is the lie that Jones must take on directly.

  6. daryl says:

    The holiday highway has to be dropped, and not compete with the CBD loop. They are unequal jobs with totally different outcomes.

    One will make auckland a liveable city
    One will help holiday makers leave auckland 10 mins faster

  7. Jon Reeves in Switzerland says:

    Steven Joyce really wants to go down as the last man on the ship with his pet RONs.

    Really, did the trucking lobby pay that much to the National Party coffers?

  8. mark says:

    @Jon I agree with John’s statement: A government made up of randomly selected blind & hearing impaired people would be preferably in terms of transport policy than this government. Labour may not be perfect, but it doesn’t get much worse than Joyce & his National enablers.

    They are steering us over the cliff with open eyes and loud shouts of “stay the course!”.

  9. Nick R says:

    Patrick, the RoNS will actually help the economy, breifly, while they are being built. Any massive construction project would… but yes, in the long run it is just another step deeper into an inefficient wasteful economy-slowing transport policy.

  10. BD says:

    it’s obvious that the minister is using the earthquake as an excuse not to fund it, the CBD tunnel was never about money in the first place, now they have an excuse to cover it up. All the roads of National significance will do is make NZ traffic problems worse. It will encourage more people to drive there cars, and eventually the government will have to build more, then one day the CBD tunnel will have to get built.

    The funding for the project was never the issue in the first place, its the fact that the government doesn’ t want it built. If they cared about transport that much they wouldn’t sacrifice it. Its up to the Auckland Council now to keep putting the pressure on the government to build it.

  11. mark says:

    BD - dream on. It’s on Aucklanders (not on Auckland’s government!) to tip National out of government.

    Doesn’t take that much of a vote swing to remove them. Just wish the opposition was more exciting.

  12. mark says:

    Clarifying - the “dream on” re Bd was in the sense of it being unrealistic to expect Auckland’s government getting any further with Joyce & the prime minister serving under him than they have so far. These people will not hear even if they are standing next to a megaphone.

  13. Feijoa says:

    @Nick Any benefits to the economy from the construction itself are questionable at best. It would provide work for a number of people and firms, yes. There are huge opportunity costs though, not least the immediate borrowing and blocking of any ‘useful’ work by the construction firms and government employees involved. It would be difficult to assess the balance between immediate benefits and costs, but if I had to bet money on it I’d go with costs outweighing any benefit. I know you’re not a proponent of the project, but just want to clarify this point.

    In general I think Mr Joyce’s comments show no change on CBD tunnel (he hasn’t ever shown any real interest and seems only to look for excuses) but is a major shift down on the Holiday Highway. A ‘change in timing’ could easily lead to ‘die a silent death’ for the project.

  14. Patrick R says:

    Nick, my point was that it will no more help the economy than any other random spending of $2 billion, and in fact by further committing us to road use will ultimately be extremely negative.

  15. Nick R says:

    Yes Feijoa, Patrick, that is all that I meant. Spending two billion bucks on a large construction project will have a short term impact on the economy… but it’s doesn’t make it the best way to spend the money, the best way to boost the economy, nor even a good idea!

  16. joust says:

    The Wellsford road should be dropped on the lack of its own merits.

    The Governments continuing refusal to fund the CBD link from the NLTF shows a core belief within the cabinet that rail projects are not beneficial to the rest of the city’s transport network and hence the economy, but state highways are.

  17. Finn says:

    I reckon that the new Puhoi highway should not done and they should just upgrade STH 1 for holiday people, truckers can take a hike and drive along STH 16 through Helensville and the North Auckland Line should be upgraded so we can get more trucks annoying the hell out of drivers off the road and more trains on the rails, I also think the CBD rail tunnell is a GREAT idea and I don’t know why their not funding it! Plus I had a look through the township of Puhoi and it looks absolutely beautiful and historic, it would be a shame to put a B****y busy highway through there and ruin the whole beauty of the Puhoi township.

  18. damian says:


    Auckland has been rated as the 10th most liveable city so in the scheme of things we are doing pretty well.

    I agree that the Puhoi link is a waste of money and time as far as public money goes, but I am in favour of it overall as it will contribute to the industry I am in

  19. Patrick R says:

    damian do tell… what is your industry? And should all spending of public money be chosen on whether it ‘relates’ to your industry or not?

  20. Robincole says:

    Have driven up to Warkworth twice recently on weekdays mid morning.It took 12 minutes to drive the 17kms from the end of the motorway to Warkworth both times, both directions.Thats an average speed of a bit under 90km/h. So on an 100km/h motorway you’d save less than two minutes, and maybe five minutes from Puhoi to Wellsford.Only time you’d make any real time saving would be in holiday time.

  21. Andrew says:

    Joyce: “Those seven projects were chosen on the basis of their contribution to economic growth in New Zealand, their improvement of journey reliability, and their contribution to safety”

    The CBD Rail Tunnel, if also “evaluated [by the Govt] on the basis of [its] contribution to economic growth in New Zealand, [its] improvement of journey reliability, and [its] contribution to safety”, would have passed.

    What a liar. They were chosen because they were roads.

    Joyce knows that this is likely the last opportunity to build grandiose roads before fuel prices render it impossible to justify, and he is going for broke to make sure he squeezes as much in as he can.

  22. Nick R says:

    “contribution to economic growth in New Zealand,”

    Thats pretty rich, considering the all failed a conventional economic assessment. Basically there is nothing that shows they will have any economic growth impact, except if one assumes that motorways create economic growth and more motorways create more economic growth.

  23. Matt L says:

    I tried to post this earlier but for some reason my comments keep on disappearing.

    P2W has a BCR of 1.1 which was based on it costing $1.3b with contingency up to $1.6b. In the papers released by the government on their views on the Auckland spatial plan there is a table listing the price of major projects and in there P2W is listed as $2.1b. If that is now the cost then there is no way the BCR is above 1.

    Even prior to now the BCR of 1 was pretty dodgy, it was assessed for 30 years but only after construction of the road was finished (till 2051) i.e. it didn’t take into account the fact that construction costs would be incurred for at least 5 years during which time no one will be using it.

    By comparison the BCR of the CBD tunnel was also judged at 1.1 but that was only till 2041 however the BCR was started from the time the first major construction costs were incurred which they estimated to be 2015. With them not estimating the tunnel opening till 2021 it means there is only 20 years of benefit included. If they were assessed using the same criteria the CBD tunnel would blow P2W out of the water.

  24. Urban Local says:

    @ mark : What would make the opposition more exciting? The opposition has said they would support Auckland’s public transport asperations, that sounds pretty exciting!

  25. Anon says:


    1. A CBD Rail Loop
    2. Auckland Airport Rail Link
    3. East Auckland Line
    4. Wellington Station - Airport Light Rail
    5. Christchurch Metro Light Rail
    6. Upgraded North Auckland Line
    7. Marsden Point Branch

    Whatya think JOYCE?!

  26. damian says:

    Patrick, the industry I am in is Civil Engineering. Both in the design and construction phases. Yes I do have a vested interest, but dont we all?

    I dont agree with the Puhoi project overall, but on a personal level as far as my industry is concerned I am all for it.

    I would suggest that there is significant lobbying behind the scenes to the government regarding puhoi as it will do wonders for the industry as whole and benefit it more than the CBD rail link would do.

    The spend across the industry would be far greater than the rail link from the estimates I have seen and read.

  27. Patrick R says:

    Damian that’s nice for you, and i appreciate your honesty, but we should be making infrastructure investment decisions based on much more than than which projects will line the pockets of certain groups.

    Welfare payments is what you’re saying it is, and of course you’ll work for them, but why not have you guys designing and building the better project seen we’re writing the cheques…?

  28. Luke says:

    it is true that less of the money from the CBD rail loop would be spent directly in NZ. Tunelling machines are very expensive, and will have to bring in a lot of international expertise, as opposed to Puhoi Wellsford
    where NZ companies have the expertise to do it, but then again the aussie Leightons could win the contract.
    However in terms of long term economic benefit to the country the CBD rail link will transform Auckland, while Puhoi Warkworth will barely be noticable 95% of the time.

  29. Alan Preston says:

    Establishing and maintaining alternative transport networks and infrastructure are first and foremost issues of national strategic security
    – THE fundamental responsibility of any government.

    Forget about all the arguments as to how road stacks up against rail – under present day conditions.
    Present day conditions are a passing phase. ( google> the next oil shock : NZ parliamentary support research papers )

    By allowing our transport options to be limited, OUR ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES increase our vulnerability to outside variables ( e.g. the price of oil ) and decrease mobility, resiliance , -and our economic competitiveness. ( Not to mention ignore our commitment to be reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. ).

    The (proposed) Puhoi-Wellsford motorway extension project is an insane mis-allocation of funds that will deny New Zealanders of alternative transport options ( such that the CBD link is ) and will further increase our vulnerability caused by our dependance on imported fossil fuels - while doing nothing to enable us to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions as per our obligations as set out in the Kyoto Protocol.

    Focus and funding must be moved to double tracking, electrification and extension of our rail networks, to provide a sustainable low emissions alternative transport network that will enhance our economy’s resiliance and competitiveness.

    The stated aims of improving traffic flow and decreasing travel times will be achieved by providing us with a modern passenger and freight rail transport system both in and between our population centres.

    The proposed Puhoi-Wellsford motorway extension is inconsistant with both the Auckland and Northland Regional Councils’ Land Transport Strategies - while carrying out improvements to both the existing rail corridor and State Highway One would be consistant with these Strategies.

    Concentrating funding on the proposed Puhoi to Wellsford Motorway extension and away from providing roading subsidies to Local Territorial Authorities will place further financial burdon on ratepayers and will restrict councils’ ability to implement extensions of the tar-sealing and road maintenance projects that are essential to developing tourism routes such as the coastal region between Warkworth, Matakana, Leigh, Pakiri, Mangawhai, Langs Beach and Waipu.

    Should New Zealand be governed by intellegent,well-informed decision makers using research-based best practice methodologies - or by the dynamics of the National Government’s relationship with the trucking,roading and auto-petro lobby?

    We simply cannot afford to lose the rail infrastructure we have or to stop developing it ( i.e. the CBD Link )
    The Puhoi to Wellsford Motorway project must never be allowed to proceed and the motivation for the National Government’s obstinate resolve to pursue it must be exposed for what it is: Consolidation of its political power base through reciprocation for funding a.k.a .’Port Barrel politicing’.

    Alan Preston

  30. damian says:


    I completely agree with you. But like me there are a large number of vested interests in Puhoi and I would suggest this is the reason why it is being pushed ahead.

    Lots of things dont make sense, but they get done anyway regardless of what people think.


    I dont think anyone is in disagreement with you. You make a valid case, but unfortunately you are not the one making the call, nor will you have any significance in the decision. You should write to the minister and other lobbying groups to help your case

  31. Patrick R says:

    Precisely, Alan, and well said. What do you suppose the chances are of getting the Herald to run this?

  32. Andrew C says:

    I’ll be lying down in front of the diggers P2W ever does go ahead.

  33. Anon says:

    If he had to review the benefits of both P2W and the CBD Link, he will find the CBD will be greater and will transform not Auckland but New Zealand.

    Then he should be pressured to answer.

    “You have been asked to give up funding for either Puhoi - Wellsford Motorway or the CBD Rail Loop. You have reviewed both business cases and you have seen which option is better. Now which one will you give up?.”

    But obviously Joyce will just make excuses for choosing P2W

    What’s wrong with this government?!

  34. damian says:

    The government is like any other government. It is subject to lobbying from vested interests. The likes of the contractors federation will be pushing for this hard.

    They have also nearly convinced the Government to push ahead with the Cambridge by-pass to help stimulate the industry / economy down in the waikato.

    Steven Joyce is merely a puppet who is doing what he is told

  35. Patrick R says:

    Funny thing with right wing governments is that very quickly only get to hear one sort of voice, their own kind; business. Labour already have the opposing view built in, and when in office get business up in their grill 24/7, which has its own issues…..But this can explain why Joyce is always expressing surprise when he comes across opposition to things like Puford, as mostly he only meets those with vested interests in these projects, and other assorted lickspitals, so really is genuinely surprised by more nuanced perspectives. And then can also characterize them as it as cranky and weird, at least to himself and his core constituancy….. and thereby has no need to even listen.

  36. Anon says:

    Oh man!. ALL these projects are making Auckland look absolutely world class. The Waterfront, Shared Spaces, Hobsonville Point.

    An CBD Rail Tunnel and Airport Rail Link will enhance this even further!.

    What’s Joyce’s alternative?. A CBD Motorway Loop?!. YEAH RIGHT!.

  37. Andrej says:

    I don’t think the P2W motorway extension will have any significant economic value and benefit for the whole Northland region as aimed. I do not agree with either one or two but if so it should be extended further north to at least to Whangarei or even a bit further up. Ending the motorway short behind Warkworth and Wellsord simply won’t bring any significant economic value to the region up from Whangarei, maybe.. although we know the situation in the sections of SH1 in Warkworth and Wellsford is crucial - I would rather choose the Bypass sections around these two towns my idea.
    Secondly, sometimes when I read AKT or the Herald - my only touch with New Zealand this time, unfortunately, I have a feeling that Steven Joyce and generally the Government produces the headlines and the long-term decisions, like “Puhoi On, CBD Link Not” or “Auckland must hold for the coming 10 years of any new transport projects due to Christchurch rebuilding” both long-term plans! Why do they think they’ll keep on the chairs for the next three terms?!


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