Greater Wellington to deliver affordable Lower Hutt flood defences

  • Published Date 28 Mar 2024
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Aerial view of Te Awa Kairangi the Hutt River

Flood defences will now be delivered by Greater Wellington for Te Wai Takamori o Te Awa Kairangi - delivering RiverLink, instead of the programme Alliance.

Programme partners Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika and Ngāti Toa Rangatira, New Zealand Transport Agency Waka Kotahi, Greater Wellington and Hutt City Council joined an alliance with constructors AECOM and Fletcher in 2023.

While transport improvements, including the Melling Station relocation and city link pedestrian bridge, will continue to be delivered by the Alliance, the regional council today agreed to alter the Project Partner Agreement, removing most flood protection from the Alliance scope of work.

Greater Wellington chair Daran Ponter says the council’s flood protection team is well equipped to build-up the stopbanks.

“Our dedication to the programme is unwavering. Our commitment to safeguarding the city is steadfast. But our partnership is flexible, allowing us to deliver stand-alone project components at a better price for ratepayers,” Cr Ponter says.

With current programme funding of $295m, Greater Wellington has spent eight-years acquiring and demolishing property along a densely populated, 3km stretch of Te Awa Kairangi / Hutt River through the central city. The site is now ready for more resilient stopbanks to be built, but the Alliance has calculated construction costs significantly above the council’s remaining $165m budget.

To complete river works that protect the city from a one-in-440-year flood event, which has a 0.23 percent chance of occurring in any year, the council acknowledges additional funding may be necessary by 2027. But it calculates savings in the tens of millions by delivering the work in-house.

Chair of the regional Te Awa Kairangi subcommittee, Ros Connelly, says ratepayers will be better served by Greater Wellington working directly with contractors.

“Flood protection is a core council function. It was initially included in the Alliance scope of work on the expectation that cost savings would be generated through innovation and synergies with other aspects of the project. This has not eventuated; in fact, it has become more expensive,” Cr Connelly says.

“Therefore, we’re stepping forward to deliver affordable flood defences at a high standard.”

Greater Wellington’s river works have already begun on the Mills Street stopbank under a separate contract with Fletcher managed by the council. Despite the elevated cost of working within the Alliance, the decision was made to expedite construction on the river section most vulnerable to flooding during severe weather events like Cyclone Gabriele.

Following the Interim Project Alliance Agreement phase, due to be finished in November 2024, it’s estimated Greater Wellington’s enhanced Lower Hutt flood defences will be completed by 2028.

“Our work will seamlessly integrate with our partners’,” Cr Ponter says.

“We’ll be working closely with the Alliance to maintain access to public transport during construction, including when the Melling Line is temporarily closed.”

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Updated April 5, 2024 at 9:06 AM

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