Community update

10 December 2021


Making our city more resilient, connected and vibrant


Haere mai

Welcome to the RiverLink community update – a bit about the project, what’s been done lately and what’s coming up.

RiverLink – three separate but interdependent projects that will transform Lower Hutt.

RiverLink is a partnership between Hutt City Council, Greater Wellington, and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency working collaboratively with Taranaki Whānui ki te Upoko o te Ika and Ngāti Toa Rangatira to deliver flood protection, the revitalisation of Lower Hutt’s central city, and Melling transport

L to R/back:Kevin Reid (Waka Kotahi) Wayne O’Donnell (Greater Wellington) Kara Puketapu-Dentice (Hutt City Council) L toR/front:Jenny Ngarimu (Ngāti Toa Rangatira) Carey Morris (GHD) Kim Skelton (Taranaki Whānui ki te Upoko o te Ika) Kesh Keshaboina (Waka Kotahi) Graeme Campbell (Greater Wellington)

RiverLink project another step closer to construction

The RiverLink Partnership has appointed a Principal Technical Advisor (professional services company, GHD). Their role is to assist the Clients in setting the requirements needed to establish a team that’ll transform Lower Hutt into a more resilient, connected, and vibrant city.

GHD will prepare documentation for the RiverLink project’s detailed design and construction procurement processes. This will ensure the right consultants and contractors are selected for the project to achieve better transport connections, improved flood protection and new riverside developments.

Ultimately once the consultants and contractors are engaged, they’ll work on:

  • the construction of a new interchange (with a local road going over State Highway 2) and a river bridge, connecting to the Lower Hutt CBD; new intersections and road realignments that integrate with the local network; enhanced pedestrian and cycle routes
  • lowering and widening Te Awa Kairangi Hutt River, as well as raising the height of the stopbanks for greater flood resilience
  • the creation of new spaces by the river for people to live, work and play – including pedestrian and cycling paths – a new pedestrian and cycle bridge over the river, and recreational areas.

GHD Regional Leader and Project Lead, Carey Morris says, “It’s a privilege to have been appointed as the Technical Advisor for RiverLink. This is an amazing project that will transform Lower Hutt CBD, creating better spaces, places, and experiences. Together with RiverLink’s project partners, we’re committed to helping develop a safer, more resilient and vibrant community for generations to come.”

This appointment follows the award of contracts to quantity surveyors BondCM (they’ll help with the cost estimation process for the works), and infrastructure management consultancy Resolve Group (they’ll be working on documentation to support the procurement process for the works).

Construction is expected to begin in 2023 and take approximately five years to complete.

For more information throughout the project view the website www.riverlink.co.nz


Southend Business Group members at the discussion with Tom Biggin (HCC – RiverLink Project Manager) and Sarah Martin (RiverLink Communications Manager).

Southend Business Group – join the discussion

Over the last couple of months members of the RiverLink project team have been catching up with local business people to talk about what interests them.

On Tuesday 30 November several local business owners and property developers got together to discuss RiverLink with project team members.

A good discussion was had by all, including what the project will mean for their businesses and Lower Hutt in general. There was interest in how the CBD could be developed and what impacts there might be on residential/parking in general. The group also discussed:

  • what the transition plan for this will be (and what a transitional plan is)
  • construction phasing and the timing of the project
  • everyone agreed that inner-city living offered great opportunities for the city centre, transport options for people living in the inner city, and more pedestrian space within the city
  • other topics touched on the population forecast for Lower Hutt
  • how to revitalise the city centre and landscaping, stop banks and being able to walk alongside the river
  • and what the space linking Te Awa Kairangi Hutt River with the city centre might look like.

Everyone agreed it was a very useful discussion and were keen to make use of further opportunities for getting together.

The next session is being held on Tuesday 1 February 2022 – 6pm to 7pm (ish) at 2 Dudley Street, Lower Hutt. Details of further sessions will be published on the website riverlink.co.nz



Updating the consent programme/direct referral process

In a direct referral process, the consent programme is primarily managed by the Environment Court. The next key milestones include:

  • 14 December 2021: submitters (anyone who’s submitted a resource consent application about the RiverLink project) decide whether they want to take part in the direct referral process.
  • 21 December 2021: a judicial conference (setting down the ground rules) is held by the Environment Court to agree on the programme for considering RiverLink applications in the New Year. This will include identifying when mediation may occur, when evidence must be submitted by the applicants and submitters, and when hearings (where submissions are presented by submitters who’ve said they want to be ‘heard’) start.

More information about the consent programme will be available in the New Year. In the meantime here are some FAQs about the consent programme/direct referral process:

Why did RiverLink apply to refer the applications to the
Environment Court?

Because RiverLink is a critical infrastructure project for Lower Hutt, the project team applied to the Regulators (Greater Wellington and Hutt City Council) to have the designation and resource consent applications referred to the Environment Court. This is called a ‘Direct Referral Process’. This process gives the RiverLink team more opportunity to address issues raised by submitters and retains the ability of submitters to be heard.

What is a direct referral process?
RiverLink made a request to Greater Wellington and Hutt City Council to have the resource consents and notices of requirement decided by the Environment Court, rather than the councils – this is called direct referral. This process streamlines decision-making for large scale, complex applications like RiverLink.

Who’s the decision maker for a direct referral process?
The RiverLink applications will now be decided by an Environment Court judge – potentially supported by Environment Court commissioners.

What role do Greater Wellington and Hutt City Council (HCC) play now if they’re not making the decision?
As regulators, Greater Wellington and HCC are required to prepare and provide reports to the Environment Court. These reports provide the Council officer’s assessment of the effects of the RiverLink project, a summary of submissions and any recommended changes to proposed conditions.

These reports are available on the Greater Wellington website here.

Who can participate in a direct referral process?
Only the applicant and any people or organisations who made
submissions to RiverLink in the submissions period, or whose late submissions have been accepted by either Greater Wellington or Hutt City Council, or by the Environment Court. Acceptance of late submissions depends, in part, on whether the RiverLink applicants would be prejudiced by acceptance of the late submissions. Submitters need to advise the Court within the required timeframe about whether they want to become part of the process. For RiverLink this timeframe expires on 14 December 2021.

Further information is available about the direct referral process and how submitters can participate in this guidance on the MfE website here.


Example of a topographical map showing contours. Photo: LINZ

Investigation works underway

While we’re waiting for the RiverLink consent application to be heard there’s still a lot going on, including investigation work (collecting information).

As we’re preparing for the construction phase (due to start in 2023) we need to better understand the ground conditions over the project site. We can’t just start digging – first we need to check the ground and what’s under it (ie where the underground services are) so we don’t rupture a pipe or break any cables once construction starts. It’s also important to know what types of material will be found, and that it’s safe.

There’s a lot more to it than that of course, but you get the point. Some of our investigation works have already started, like requirements for landscaping and planting to help with flood protection.

We’ll start putting information about these works up on the RiverLink website (under ‘News’) so you can check in and see what’s happening, when and where.

We’ll also explain things. For example, a Topo (short for topographical) land survey shows the height, depth, size, and location of specific human-made or natural features on a particular piece of land. A Topo helps us to integrate the design with the surrounding features, and make sure we have the correct height and position.



Arch Campbell award winner – Brendan Paul

The Arch Campbell award recognises someone who’s made a major contribution to the advancement of knowledge or practice in the fields of catchment hydrology, catchment management or river engineering.

Brendan (part of the RiverLink team) has been at the forefront of floodplain management practice within New Zealand for almost 35 years, ensuring that Greater Wellington Regional Council has become a leading local authority in addressing flood risk via a floodplain management approach.

The Otaki, Waikanae, and Hutt River Floodplain Management Plans are legacies of his work and leadership in this field. Brendan’s passion for his career, supportive mentorship of others, willingness to discuss flood and floodplain management plan issues, and his local knowledge for the Hutt in particular, have contributed greatly to floodplain management in New Zealand.



Housing infrastructure

Imagine having breakfast at a café, a short walk from your inner-city apartment, then popping down to Te Awa Kairangi Hutt River for a kayak. It’s the sort of thing that’s envisaged by supporters of the RiverLink plan for revitalising central Lower Hutt.

Lower Hutt Mayor Campbell Barry supports the $700m project that’ll see Te Awa Kairangi Hutt River become the focal point of Lower Hutt city centre.

With house prices (in Wellington) going up by 30 percent in the last year, people are looking further afield for places to live and different options. Some people believe there’s potential for up to 2,000 new apartments in Lower Hutt city. Going ‘up’ could be a good option for some of us. It would certainly bring residents closer to quick and easy transport links, as well as river life.

This is part of this article about ‘Reimagining the Wellington region’ (dated 10 November 2021).



RiverLink project to intensify our CBD by building more houses

In March, the Government announced a $3.8 billion Housing Acceleration Fund. Of that, $1 billion is designed to support infrastructure projects that’ll lay the foundations for further housing development in the short to medium term.

There’s space to build up
Part of the RiverLink application plan is about intensifying our CBD by building more houses, along with the infrastructure needed to support additional growth. And going ‘up’ is a good way to go. If successful, the plan could mean 1,200 to 1,750 extra homes in Lower Hutt’s central city, with space for a further 6,000 new homes in the area.

This is part of an article about ‘Lower Hutt RiverLink housing project closer to getting infrastructure finance’. You can read the full story here (dated 28 October 2021).



Jobs Forum

Lower Hutt is booming. And big projects such as RiverLink take a lot of skilled people to make it happen. Unfortunately those people don’t grow on trees. So, on 25 November, Hutt City Council and the Wellington Institute of Technology Ltd (WelTec) ran a Jobs Forum in Petone to see whether they (and others) could join forces to fill jobs, train locals and plan for future infrastructure requirements.

Attending the forum were representatives from local and central government, contractors, mana whenua and other local groups.

Mayor Campbell Barry was a keynote speaker and said, “Collectively we’re investing billions of dollars into local infrastructure over the next decade – and we need to do this the right way, with a local workforce who helps ensure delivery.”

More than 70 people attended the forum, providing great feedback on the event. MC Kara Puketapu-Dentice, Director of Economy and Development at Hutt City Council noted that when it comes to choosing contractors to work on projects like RiverLink and Eastern Bays Shared Path our priorities include favouring employers who are committed to local labour and local supply chains, as well as making sure workers receive a fair wage for their mahi: “We also prioritise partnering with businesses that care for the environment, who are committed to training their workforce, and who take on more young people, including Māori and Pasifika.”

Next steps will be to leverage off the new relationships established at the forum to get more people into industries that are experiencing skills shortages.




Anyone can comment on RiverLink or ask a question by emailing



More information


For more information on the RiverLink project visit our website or send our team an email.

Website: riverlink.co.nz
Email: riverlink@gw.govt.nz


Greater Wellington, Hutt City and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency proudly deliving the New Zealand Upgrade Programme