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Mixed reviews for lights

One of the new LED lights on Essex St, Masterton, looking towards Chapel St, where the older sodium street lights remain. PHOTO/CAL ROBERTS


New street lighting in Wairarapa is getting mixed reviews, with some people calling for them to be brightened, and others praising them for letting them get a good night’s sleep.

The three Wairarapa councils plus Tararua District Council are all in the process of switching out the old high-pressure sodium bulbs for LEDs [light-emitting diodes], which are more energy efficient with less light pollution.

Some of Wellington’s new LED street lights were made brighter after complaints they were too dim and encouraged criminal behaviour.

But the lights being installed in Wairarapa are unable to be brightened.

LEDs have a longer lifespan, and lower maintenance and replacement costs, meaning less burden on ratepayers.

But the environmentally friendlier lights are not getting a shining review from everyone in the region.

Masterton District Council assets and operations manager David Hopman said three residents had reported the lights were not bright enough, while another resident said they felt “much safer because of the lights”.

He said the bulbs produced a whiter light, more like daylight, that made it easier to see and recognise shapes and colours after dark.

Hopman said around 3000 bulbs were being replaced in Masterton.

“Our project of conversion is on track for completion by the end of this month.”

South Wairarapa District Council infrastructure services group manager Mark Allingham said positive feedback received included people saying streetlights by their homes were no longer shining into windows.

“The old lights had way more light pollution so they were throwing light out all over the place,” he said.

“They threw light on both sides of the street, in people’s bedrooms, and the lights overlapped with neighbouring lights.

“Because LEDs are more directional, it’s been raised with us that there may be shadowed areas and gaps between the lights.”

In South Wairarapa, every second power pole is lit.

Allingham said a lighting audit would be carried out once the LED replacement was complete, and more street poles would be lit if necessary.

This was also the case in Carterton.

Carterton District Council planning and regulatory manager Dave Gittings said the street lights could be tilted and the ‘light spill’ could be widened, and if this didn’t fix the problem then more light units could be installed.

He said some residents living on Costly St had complained that the street was now too dark.

Masterton district councillor Chris Peterson said the new lights were much more energy efficient, and a big saving for ratepayers in the long run.

He was aware of feedback saying the lights were too dim – but said residents should give them a chance, calling them “a step forward”.

Why LED lights preferred

Converting to LED lights is expected to save up to 60 per cent of the electricity consumed by the previous high-pressure sodium bulbs, with LEDs having a 20-year lifespan, compared with four years for
sodium bulbs.

The bulb replacement project is part of a country-wide conversion subsidised by the New Zealand Transport Agency, which is funding 85 per cent of the cost.

According to NZTA, international studies have found LED lights are safer and will help reduce urban road crashes.


  1. I’d really like LED lights at the Masterton Rail Station – the yard lighting is so bright I could read in my bedroom in the middle of the night. Does anyone know what the Railways are planing for their ‘security’ lights?

  2. I’m or for the environment and LED lights but these are terrible; they are dark as driving through town or biking where I have to rely solely on my bike lights as the street lights are so dim. They don’t light up the road surface at all and especially in winter conditions they just make it more dangerous. They’re probably a dream come true for any would be car thieves or burglars though.

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