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Ratepayers will have to fork out for Palliser bills

Waka Kotahi NZTA has spent millions maintaining and repairing Cape Palliser Rd for decades but from July next year, South Wairarapa ratepayers will start contributing a share – although the specifics are yet to be finalised.

From July 1, 2024, Cape Palliser Rd will become another ratepayer expense, forecast in the 2021–31 long-term plan of South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] to cost ratepayers $494,000 annually.

Paying for a share of the road’s upkeep might come as an unwelcome shock next year after the just-announced SWDC rates rise – one of the biggest rates hikes in New Zealand.

Last week SWDC voted to hike rates by an average of 19.8 per cent, bringing its total rates income up to $25.45 million, more than double its $12.6 million rates haul in 2015-16.

Although it has not been confirmed how much Cape Palliser Rd will affect 2024 rates, the road has been expensive for Waka Kotahi to run – maintenance and upkeep alone have cost the transport agency an average of $667,894 annually since 2007. On top of that, eroding cliffs and continual pressure from surging tides have repeatedly damaged the road, causing Waka Kotahi to spend an average of $315,695 per year on emergency repairs since 2007, bringing the average total expenditure to $983,589 in the past 16 years.

The amount spent on emergency repairs is inconsistent. In some years, there has been zero cost, whereas this year emergency repair costs have already ballooned above $800,000.

Waka Kotahi has funded 100 per cent of upkeep and repairs for Cape Palliser Rd since 1997, even though it’s a local road, not a state highway, because it is designated as a ‘Special Purpose Road’ for its high tourism value, high maintenance costs, and minimal local rate income.

Special Purpose Roads are being phased out, however, and Waka Kotahi plans to have transitioned all of them to a different funding model by July 1, 2024.

Instead, the transport agency will pay a specified percentage of the running costs of all local roads in South Wairarapa – called the Funding Assistance Rate.

In the current financial year, South Wairarapa’s Funding Assistance Rate is 51 per cent.

Until negotiations are complete, ratepayers will not know whether they will be accountable for a full 49 per cent of the million-dollar-per-year road or whether there will be provisions in the funding arrangement for an increased Waka Kotahi assistance rate for emergency repairs.

A spokesperson for Waka Kotahi said it was still negotiating the specifics with SWDC.

“We have recently received a letter from the council outlining their views on the importance of this road and their request for Waka Kotahi to review the funding arrangement,” the spokesperson said.

“Details on future funding arrangements will be made public after these discussions are complete, an agreement reached, and decisions on funding under the Funding Assistance Rate model have been made.

“At this stage, we cannot provide a specific timeframe for when an announcement might be made.”


  1. They have money to buy hodder dairy farm in Murphys line Illegally. They have been collecting ILLEGAL water rates that are NOT an accepted invoice to IRD. 7 million is missing. FUND IT THEMSELVES WITH OUR STOLEN MONEY

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Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age who regularly writes about education. He is originally from Wellington and is interested in environmental issues and public transport.

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