Kāpiti businesses bypassed for expressway work

Waikanae nurseryman Gus Evans says he is disappointed local growers had been left out after tendering to supply some of the 1.5 million plants for the McKays to Peka Peka expressway.

“We realise we are not big enough for the world, but it would have been good to have been included in some small way in some of the growing of the plants,” says Mr Evans.

He says bringing plants from out of the district could expose Kāpiti to pest lizard the Australian rainbow skink which till now has not been found south of Foxton.

“It would be disastrous to the locals,” says Mr Evans.

In touting the expressway NZTA had claimed local Kāpiti businesses would be at the head of the queue for contracts. It seems that may not be so. Instead the Auckland-based Natural Habitats won the $7 million contract for 140 hectares of planting along the expressway over the next three years.

Additionally it is likely Kauri Park Nurseries in Palmerston North will be cultivating most of the plants.

Lynton Nurseries owner Lynton Allen was disappointed his joint tender with Te Horo Ornamentals for the planting project had been unsuccessful.

The Auckland firm Natural Habitats is setting up shop in Kāpiti and will hire 60 local staff.

NZTA Wellington highways manager Rod James said Kauri Park Nursery had been the first provider appointed through a competitive tender process that was open to Kāpiti growers.

“However, the door remains open for local nurseries to also provide plants. The contract with Kauri Park is not exclusive. We need to source 1.5 million plants and a range of providers may be needed for such an unprecedented planting project.

“Even where contracts are awarded to a non-Kāpiti based supplier there will still be jobs and/or subcontracting opportunities on offer locally,” Mr James said.

Natural Habitats said there was a potential for other growers to be involved “but it will be a competitive arena.”

In the meantime it is the big Auckland firms who are getting the lions’ share of the expressway planting business.