No Police Merger in Hutt Valley

The report is out, and it is good use for opponents of Project Awakairangi . This issue has caused a great deal of concern amongst the public and staff over the way this project has been handled. HuttNZ has also expressed concern over how this matter has played out and also expressed doubts as to the release of the outcome, I stand corrected and am glad the matter has been made public.


The Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt police areas will not be merged, police bosses have announced.

Wellington district commander Superintendent Gail Gibson said today she had reviewed the report on project Awakairangi – which was looking at amalgamating the neighbouring police areas – and decided to retain Upper Hutt’s area commander role.

Police wanted to provide the ”best possible service” to the public, she said.

”We have decided that part of that service includes Upper Hutt retaining their area commander.”

However, reviews of police resources in the district would continue.

Ms Gibson thanked the Upper and Lower Hutt communities for their submissions on the proposal.

”During the project process, support for police in Upper Hutt and Lower Hutt was clearly apparent.”

Police authorities announced in February that they were looking at options for the two districts. At the time, Superintendent Pieri Munro said he did not want the number of frontline police to change or for police stations to close, but that a reduction in behind-the-scenes staff was possible. One of the area commanders might lose their job, he said.

The region’s civic leaders were upset by the merger proposal, Upper Mayor Wayne Guppy called it the biggest issue his community had faced, while Lower Hutt Mayor David Ogden said he could not understand why police would want to change something that was working effectively.

The two districts have about 240 staff in total.

Hutt Super City – No way says National

The National Government has no plans to merge local authorities in the Hutt Valley, local list MP Paul Quinn (National) says.

He was responding to Rimutaka MP Chris Hipkins (Labour)(see previous post), who had said the way the legislation had been rushed through parliament for Aucklands “Super City” set a dangerous precedent for local government reform in other parts of the country “including here in the Hutt Valley”

Mr Quinn goes on to say “I stated at a public meeting (last) October that there was plenty of scope for the Greater Wellington Regional Council to sharpen up its act. I also made it clear that a merger was something for the communities of Upper Hutt and Lower Hutt to decide”

All credit to Mr Quinn, and also his stated stance at Project Awakairangi (Hutt Valley Police Merger) meetings that he attended and was upset that the police had adopted the project without consultation.

No doubt this issue wont go away given the profile of Aucklands Super City.

It is important to note that in late April, Local Goverment Minister Rodney Hide met the Hutt Valleys 2 mayors.

Mr Hipkins asked Mr Hide in Parliament whether he had received any advice on the possibility of a merger in the Hutt Valley and was told Mr Hide had been given a memo and background notes prior to his meeting the 2 mayors. Mr Hide said the memo advised him the 2 mayors did not support amalgamation of all the councils in the Wellington region, “believing this process should be left to ratepayers to initiate” and that “Mr Ogden (Lower Hutt Mayor) had raised the idea of a smaller amalgamation between Hutt and Upper Hutt City Councils”

Mr Hipkin has since lodged an Official Information Request for a copy of the full memo and background notes.

HuttNZ is very interested in the context of this memo as well, the quote is worth a second look

“Mr Ogden (Lower Hutt Mayor) had raised the idea of a smaller amalgamation between Hutt and Upper Hutt City Councils”

We await release on this memo to find some conclusions, and give a clearer insight intothe mandate Mr Ogden appears to have adopted.

We  believe that it is not up to council to decide but the public of the Hutt Valley. No doubt previous councils eg Eastbourne, Petone have opinions on mergers and the impact it has on community issues.

Whatever occurs, it is HuttNZ opinion that the public has a right to full disclosure on this issue, sooner rather than later.

Hutt Valley Police – Merger update Upper Hutt says NO

Upper Hutts petition against a police merger with Lower Hutt police has gained more than 6000 signatures.

Organisers hope to take it to Parliament later this month but a further push for more signatures is under way this week and more petition forms will be taken around the CBD this week.

People are very angry that police district commander Superintendent Pieri Munro did not attend last weeks meetings (see below), and unfortunately this I believe has lite the fire for more anger over this proposal.

Local MP Chris Hipkins has ben an advocate of the petition by collecting signatures around Upper Hutt

“One of the messages I will be giving the minister that came through very strongly is local people’s expectations that focus on frontline policing. Any review that would take senior police out of the Hutt Valley seems to be going in the wrong direction. The minister has an obligation to make sure this does not happen. That seems to be totally at odds with the government’s stated commitment to frontline policing services”

The petition can be signed at Upper Hutt City Council, Library, McArthurs Real Estate, Chris Hipkins electorate office, Upper Hutt Leader.

Below is the link to the website, and an opportunity to download a petition there as well


May 5th

Last week two public meetings were undertaken by the Police in Lower and Upper Hutt.

Police have advertised these meeetings as a chance for locals to put their views to the police on what works with local policing and what doesn’t. Project Awakairangi is a police review of services they provide, the project is about which local services would the public like to see, or retain, the most and which could they do without. 

The police have had terms of reference for this project available. The underlying principles behind the project are below

“A project team has been established with Terms of Reference to explore enhanced safety and police service delivery opportunities in the Upper Hutt and Lower Hutt police area commands.

Superintendent Pieri Munro, Wellington Police District Commander, has asked for a report with findings and recommendations by 30 June 2009.

The project is called Awakairangi – the Maori name of the Hutt River formed by tributaries from the surrounding ranges and their combined flow through Upper Hutt and Lower Hutt, joining with Wellington Harbour at Petone.

Superintendent Munro acknowledged news of the project had raised some concern amongst police staff and the public. He hopes the public discussion paper including Terms of Reference will help provide understanding and reassurance for staff, and the Upper Hutt and Lower Hutt communities.

He reassured people that no police stations or community policing centres will close; that face to face service delivery to the public will not be diminished and that the purpose is to enhance safety of the public and police.

“Seeking the views of police staff and key partner agencies including local councils will be an important part of the project team’s focus,” Superintendent Munro said. “This includes opportunities for face to face meetings and other communication and feedback tools including web based technology.””

I attended the meeting in Upper Hutt which had  roughly about 80 people turn up at the Hapai Club in Fergusson Drive last Thursday (A summary of the Lower Hutt meeting is here).

In general terms most of the Upper Hutt residents feel that this project is about merging of police services under one district with Lower Hutt being the principal station, Upper Hutt being reduced to a satellite station.

There has been strong opposition to this project in Upper Hutt with a petition doing the rounds and an active website citing rational reasons for the possible outcome of this project not to proceed. Even the local Upper Hutt Mayor was upset over the scheduling on this meeting, as it clashed with a well advertised Community Planning meeting.

Having attended the meeting I walked away with no clearer picture of what the Police are intending to do with this Project, equally that was probably not their goal. Most certainly I can attest that they should have got the message that people within Upper Hutt are not happy with any reduced police staff numbers in their community.

While I understand the need for mangement reviews, they are usually ongoing and generally do not require public input to reach a conclusion. I have no doubt that be guaging public opinion from these meetings, a requirement has been satisfied (community involvement) and as such will be used as a precussor to a major operational change in policing in the Hutt Valley.

I will wait the outcome of the report from Mr Munro, I hope the findings will be made public, not lost in obsecurity but again I have my doubts as other Police reports have shown .

If anything the Police representatives should have come away with is that the community expects transperancy from the Police as to its goals and operational dealings especially as they directly relate to the community it serves.

Just front up and tell concerned citizens why the project was implemented in the first plce and what are the goals?

Hutt Police Review – Project Awakairangi

Public meetings are being held in Lower Hutt next Tuesday the 28th April (7pm Little Theatre) and in Upper Hutt on Thursday 30th April (7pm Hapai Club, 879 Fergusson Drive).

The purpose of the meeting are to hear the publics view on Lower and Upper Hutt policing.

Currently there are numerous rumours circulating around this project (see This opportunity presents the public to attend and offer their views on how policing can be improved in the Hutt Valley by presenting their concerns via this public consultation. Wellington District Commander Pieri Munro or one of his representatives will be in attedance. If you cannot attend you can email  ( ) or write to them at Awakairangi Project, Policing Development Office, P.O. Box 693, Wellington.

More details are at: