The six-member Ngauranga to Airport Governance Group, consisting of two representative each from NZTA, Wellington City Council and Greater Wellington, is the official body with the job of running the post-Basin Flyover decision-making process. You can find out more about it at NZTA’s new Basin Connections website.

Both NZTA and the Minister of Transport made statements in the wake of NZTA’s decision not to pursue further legal action signalling that things were going to change and that NZTA would be turning over a new leaf: out with secrecy and spurious “consultation” processes about decisions already made behind closed door, in with openness and transparency. But the early signals out of the Governance Group were not encouraging.

However, and following pressure applied from various quarters, the just-released minutes of the Governance Group’s 20 October meeting look a lot more promising:

The agreed Programme will be managed in 5 main phases:

1. Engagement with the community and other key stakeholders on establishing process and confirming scope, to begin in early November.

2. Jointly developing urban design and transport principles to guide assessment of scenarios which will be developed in Phase 2.

3. Jointly developing scenarios which will be assessed against criteria based on the agreed principles.

4. Assessment of scenarios to determine the preferred options for more detailed assessment and consent application.

5. Consultation on the assessment of scenarios and on the preferred options to be taken forward to further analysis before consent application.

On the face of it, this process looks closer to the type of thorough and early engagement with the community Save the Basin has been calling for.

Now, all sorts of words of caution are advisable at this point. “Words are wind,” as George R. R. Martin has observed; and, since the Game of Thrones books contain an awful lot of them, he should know. Deeds, not words, will determine whether these promising signs bear fruit. But the possibility is at least worth exploring.

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