BayBuzz has completed its survey of public attitudes towards several major spending projects on local councils’ wish lists.

The “winners” in the survey were extending the Napier airport runway (66% support, 41% strongly), building the northern arterial route connecting Havelock and the Expressway (65% support, 32% strongly), and purchasing land at Ocean Beach for protection (58% support, 39% strongly).

The “losers” were the only two projects opposed by a majority of respondents — redeveloping the HB Museum & Art Gallery (53% oppose, 24% strongly), and building a regional sports park (53% oppose, 36% strongly). Ironically, these two projects have been promoted with a lot of fanfare by Mayors Arnott and Yule.

Maybe the mayors should take salesmanship lessons from Simon Nixon, who has effectively championed the runway extension!

The biggest surprise to me was that 55% approved totally rebuilding HB Regional Hospital. With all the bad news coming out of the District Health Board these days, it’s hard to imagine the public supporting them managing the purchase of a new box of bandaids!

A proposal to develop a sustainable community of about 150 homes in West Flaxmere split respondents fairly evenly, with 47% in support, 45% in opposition, and 8% undecided. It would be fair to say that this project has received the least media coverage of the projects surveyed.

You can view the complete results here. A total of 236 individuals responded to the survey. Since they were self-selected (responding to BayBuzz promotion of the survey) as opposed to randomly selected, these results are directional only.

That said, the gaps between support for the top three projects and opposition to the bottom two are rather striking. Mayors Yule and Arnott have some major selling educating to do for their pet projects, the regional sports park and museum refurbishing, respectively.

BayBuzz would also contrast the content of its survey — asking about public attitudes to some of the biggest initiatives councils are contemplating — to the totally trivial content of the periodic “official” COMMUNITRAK surveys the Hastings and Napier Councils take regarding public satisfaction with services like our libraries and refuse collection.

Not that these everyday amenities are unimportant.

But we suspect the public would far prefer the chance to respond to official surveys raising “big picture” questions like:

  • Should developers build 1000 houses on Ocean Beach?
  • Do we want to spend $55 million on a sports park?
  • Are you satisfied with water quality in our rivers and streams?

The COMMUNITRAK surveys, conducted year after year, are boilerplate “feel good” surveys. Most questions asked get 80%+ “we love you” responses.

Meanwhile, Councils haven’t a clue about public opinion on some of the biggest, most contentious issues facing Hawke’s Bay. And they’re not likely to ask in any systematic way … because it might derail some of their favorite schemes.

Save the COMMUNITRAK money … or put it into surveys on real issues.


Join the Conversation


  1. There should actually be some of Hawkes Bay which is built on and subdivided into sections left with a meter either side. Ten years ago areas like Brookvale Road were covered with orchards and feilds and now they consist purely of ridiculous subdivisions and concrete.

    Leave Ocean beach alone. Anybody who wants to ruin such beauty is a complete and utter philistine. Some things should remain holy.

  2. If we allow this beach to built out, which will be the next one. There are plenty of other areas that can be developed without encroaching onto a beautiful recreational area such as Ocean Beach. Think outside the square Developers!

  3. After spending many years holidaying at our bach at Ocean Beach, I cannot believe that anyone with any sort of sense would consider a subdivision on such a scale. It is totally unsustainable and would ruin the natural habitat that is currently there. The increased traffic volume alone would cause major problems on the road. This beach is one of the few remaining unspoiled beaches in New Zealand and should be left as it is to enable all people to enjoy it and not just the privileged few in their concrete mansions.

  4. It is amazing that so many ratepayers are so negative about funding for a new gallery/museum in Napier.

    Perhaps we could display the huge amount of unseen treasures,that the museum has no room for, on the concrete footpath on the seafront which has cost so much. anyway where would future generations be able to view the records of the way Ocean Beach was, before it was ruined by developers !!!!

  5. So your survey showed 66% of respondents favoured extending Napier Airport runway … a recent news report said…

    "HDC adopted a resolution supporting extension of the runway to 1900 meters subject to corporatisation and introduction of a $5 per outgoing passenger levy to fund development. Mayor Yule indicated that the Napier City Council was "on the same page" on the scheme. If matters proceed as the Mayor would like, construction could begin as early as the middle of next year."

    Let me see if we I've got it right…

    Within living memory Napier Airport was under water.

    Even now it is less than 2 meters above sea-level, with the general movement of the land being downward

    To remain operational Napier Airport has pumps running 24 hours a day, literally pumping the tide back out to sea.

    If there is a power cut for 36 hours the airport will become non-operational.

    The effects on the integrity of the runway taking a wee paddle are interesting to speculate upon.

    So the HDC supports extending the runway further into the swamp, levying passengers $5 a head (bottom) to help fund it, in the hope that becoming an international airport, just when oil hits US$100/barrel, will bring the tourists … as well as the seawater… flooding in

    Central Government however is not silly – they are getting out before the bills also come flooding in.

    Of course it will have to be renamed as a quid pro quo for Hastings support.

    So in the spirit of positivity I am proposing for a new name for this proposed "people magnet" gateway to Hawke's Bay.

    My first choice was "Canute International" but fearing the historical allusion might escape popular imagination, and drawing from more recent local experience, I opted for "Splash International Airport".

    This would not only capture the spirit of recent H.B. tourist promotion but carry the promise of a literal experience for tourists in the event of a power cut.

    My bet is the ongoing rupturing of cash due to the "enhancement" Splash Planet to drag in all those tourists will fade into the realms of petty cash compared to what extending the Napier runway might bring about given an earthquake and/or a decent powercut.

    Bearing in mind the above, how could the councillors make such a decision?


    They weren't given the above information to consider …

  6. Even the most cursory look shows the airport to be sited in the middle of tidal wetlands, formerly under water, and borrowed from Tangaroa, by the HB Earthquake (why should Napier get all the credit?).

    These wetlands are refreshed twice a day by the tides. Keeping the airport stable is a balancing act – pump too much water away and the land will settle, making it more prone to ponding and flooding, as the Dutch found out.

    The whole estuary is under active management to maintain the water table at levels acceptable to farm and airport operations. Any interruption to electricity also affects this management.

    The CAA 'Vol IV' pilots' guide puts Napier Airport at 5-6 feet AMSL (above mean sea level), i.e. about height of a doorway, so if there is a king tide and an on-shore wind, let alone a tsunami or an earthquake, then the margin is not considerable.

    One can see new drainage has been established on the right of the airport entrance.

    I know HDC councillors were not made aware of this at the time of airport extension deliberations 'cos I asked one.

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