More than 200 people stopped traffic in Tahunanui as they marched in a protest against the suburb being “ignored”.
The rally started at the Rawhiti Street intersection at 3.15pm yesterday and ended at the traffic lights near KFC, where the marchers voiced their concerns, mainly directed at the New Zealand Transport Agency and the Nelson City Council.
A resounding speech by Tahunanui resident Lee Corlett had the crowd, young and old, roaring with support.
“Let the city council know that we are not going to be quiet any more,” he said.
Tahunanui business association chairman Mike Thomas said “the community needs to be shown some respect instead of being continually ignored.”
He said the march was only the start of community action, with a series of public forums scheduled in Tahunanui, starting on Monday at Tahunanui School.
Councillor Paul Matheson told the rally that the large turnout proved that residents and business owners were fed up.
“I have lived here for 30 years and for the first time I have seen my community stand up and come together,” he said.
“Speak up and support your community,” said Nelson city councillor Rachel Reese. “Tahuna needs its heart back.”
In a statement released before the protest, Mr Thomas said the march was to highlight the “long-running lack of care for the Tahunanui Village by the NZ Transport Agency and Nelson City Council”.
He said the community was frustrated about safety and access to services and businesses at the SH6 Tahunanui intersection.
Tahunanui business owners and residents wanted NZTA to remove the clearways and reinstate parking south of the traffic lights, he said.
The Government roading authority recently pulled a report on improvements to State Highway 6, at the Tahunanui intersection. It agreed to review it after the study on the Rocks Rd walkway-cycleway, due to start soon.
NZTA had already met businesses to discuss issues around the safety of the intersection at the Tahunanui lights. In a report to the council, the agency said that one option for improving the intersection was to extend the clearway, but that needed support and consultation.
Ange Bryant, of the Tahunanui Community Centre, has said her primary concern was what would happen to the medical centre, pharmacy and blood centre, especially because it was essential that elderly residents and people with young children had easy access to the facilities.
Resident Rob Stevenson said the protest was not just about roads, “it’s far more than that”.
“But this clearway issue is the last bloody straw.”
He said local government elections, held later this year, would be decided on issues like this which were important to communities.
“Tahuna and Stoke are where elections are won and lost,” he said.
– © Fairfax NZ News