Hataitai extends from the eastern and southern slopes of Mount Victoria and down a valley towards Kilbirnie. On the west the valley is separated from the city by a long ridge that forms part of the Town Belt. To the east are Kilbirnie, Lyall Bay, Wellington Airport and the Miramar peninsula. Any roads from the city to the eastern suburbs have to go under or over the Town Belt, or the long way around the coast via Evans Bay or the South Coast. Over the years there have been many plans, schemes and arguments about what roads are needed, where to put them and who should pay. This page summarises some of those plans...
1870s: The only access was a bullock track over the Town Belt (EP 17 Nov 1898) probably from Newtown to Wellington Road?
1877: After a big sale of Kilbirnie allotments in August 1877, Kilbirnie landowners raised £300 to construct a metalled road 10 ft wide from Pirie St over the hill to somewhere near Goa St. Unfortunately it turned out to be too steep for vehicular traffic (EP 17 Nov 1898).
1898: Kilbirnie residents and land owners started agitating for better access. Two suggestions were for a road over the Town Belt from Ellice Street, and for cutting down the hill between Newtown and Kilbirnie to improve the road at Constable Street. The problem with this was that the Town Belt was owned by the Wellington City Council, but Kilbirnie was part of the Melrose Borough Council. Kilbirnie residents and landowners could not put a road through without Wellington's cooperation, but Wellington wouldn't commit until they had considered their plan to bring outlying suburbs within their jurisdiction. Another suggestion was for improving Moxham Avenue so that it would run all the way up the hill towards Roseneath. Meanwhile in 1899 landowner Henry Duncan Crawford constructed Crawford Road from the Constable St hill down to Queen's Drive at Kilbirnie. (EP 3 May, 16 Jun 1899)
1901-1903: The Hataitai Land Company bought Jenkins Estate and formed roads in the area - Hataitai Road, Waipapa Road etc.
1907: The tram tunnel (known at the time as the Kilbirnie Tunnel or Hataitai Tunnel) opened and a tram service to the eastern suburbs started.
1928: A Commission considered many options for tunnels and roads to Hataitai, and recommended a tunnel from Paterson St to Tapiri St (EP 30 May 1928).
1931: The Mt Victoria Tunnel was opened.
1930s: Lots of discussion about the tunnel approach on the Hataitai side. Traffic at that time passed from Moxham Ave through Goa St to Hamilton Road. Proposals were made to develop Ruahine St south from Goa St and lead it diagonally across Moxham Ave to the Wellington Rd/Hamilton Rd intersection, and to develop the tramway right-of-way into a proper street (Kupe St).
1939: Kupe Street was formed to cope with traffic expected to travel to the Centennial Exhibition at Rongotai.
1957: Worried about increasing traffic, Council drew up plans for a road from the Basin Reserve over the Town Belt to Goa Street, which would cut through the workingmen's camp at Hataitai Park.
1974: A pilot tunnel for a second traffic tunnel was constructed. The Hataitai portal was blocked up in the 1990s.
2011-2012: Council is still looking at building a second traffic tunnel and widening Wellington Road. Traffic to the airport is increasing, and many residents think the Indoor Sports Centre just built at Rongotai will cause traffic chaos.
Links to recent news:
NZTA media release
Dominion Post report of backlash against tunnel proposal