Wellington Police and Wellington City Council are advising the public to carefully plan their transport arrangements as traffic will be disrupted in the central business district on Wednesday morning during the foreshore and seabed Hikoi in the Capital.
Stagecoach buses that normally run along the â€˜Golden Mileâ€™ from Courtenay Place and the Railway Station will be diverted along the waterfront for the duration of the march. Trolley buses will be off the road by 10am.
Northbound Stagecoach services will use Jervois and Customhouse Quays while the march is taking place, with southbound services diverting up Taranaki Street. Once the march has cleared normal services will be resumed as quickly as possible.
Bus users should ring Ridewell on 801 7000 for bus information updates.
Detective Inspector Rod Drew, acting Wellington Police District Commander and officer in charge of Operation Hikoi, says it could take up to two hours for the several thousand marchers to complete the route from Waitangi Park (previously known as Chaffers Park) to Parliament. Police will escort the march throughout for safety reasons and to minimise public inconvenience as much as possible.
Hikoi participants are expected to start gathering at the Waitangi Park assembly point from early morning. They will be joined by a second group of marchers leaving from Newtown Park about 8am, walking down Riddiford Street, Adelaide Road and Cambridge Terrace. This group has been instructed to use the footpaths.
The main march is expected to leave Waitangi Park between 10am and 10.30am for the walk to Parliament, arriving at about midday.
The march will travel along the main bus route, taking in:
• Cable Street, Tory Street, Courtenay Place, Dixon, Victoria, Manners and Willis Streets to Lambton Quay then into Parliament assembling behind barriers on the grass. Hikoi organisers have indicated they will stay at Parliament until 6pm.
Detective Inspector Drew says there will be greater pressure than usual on the cityâ€™s key arterial routes including the motorways, southern and eastern corridors, throughout the morning. Extra police patrols will be on the motorways and other arterial routes to smooth traffic flows as much as possible.
Police and the Wellington City Council advice is to allow plenty of time if youâ€™re travelling through the CBD. If car and bus commuters want a delay-free trip to work then it is recommended they get into the central city by 8am.
Itâ€™s recommended motorists avoid the Waitangi Park end of Cable Street, particularly between 8am and 11am, although the waterfront is a good alternative route to use once the march has cleared the Park. A second alternative route is through The Terrace tunnel to the southern and eastern suburbs.
The Wellington City Council says Chaffers Street and Herd Street â€“ bordering Waitangi Park â€“ will be closed to traffic from 6am until marchers have left the area. The Council has also approved limited parking for marchersâ€™ buses and other vehicles at the park on Wednesday.
More than 200 police are involved in the operation, one of the largest in the capital for some time. Some staff from Central and Eastern Districts have been called in to assist.
Detective Inspector Drew says there has been extensive consultation between police, the Wellington City Council, Hikoi organisers and others including bus company Stagecoach in agreeing to the march route.
"I hope police and march organisers will continue to cooperate to ensure the dignity of the Hikoi is respected.
"Police are in the difficult position of balancing the right of people to lawful protest with the right of the general public to go about their business unimpeded," Detective Inspector Drew says. "The Hikoi applied to the council with a preferred route which has been changed slightly to make it less disruptive and safer for all concerned.
"Itâ€™s inevitable the march will impact on the public but weâ€™re appealing for cool heads all round â€“ from the march participants, commuters and others working or travelling through the city."
NB: Please contact Kaye Calder on 04 496 3464 or 0274 373 030 as media contact point or if you wish to have a Te Reo fluent police spokesperson to provide commentary on the media release.