Late in 2005 a crucial consultation phase that would determine a green light/red light for Transmission Gully was being conducted by Greater Wellington Regional Council and Transit NZ.
If the $1 billion Transmission Gully was to proceed to the next planning stage, Wellingtonians needed to show a united front and give Government a clear message that the people of the region supported the proposed new highway.
People needed to be motivated to write out a submission and then present it to a hearing. Apathy would have killed the project there and then. Morrison McDougall needed to find a way to stir people’s emotion, step out of their comfort zone and have their say at the consultation hearings.
The preparation of clear and concise consultation documentation, the provision of maps, illustrations, visuals and artist’s perspectives was the first challenge for Morrison McDougall.
We then asked the DominionPost for help in communicating the key messages, the benefits, the threats and the future of the critical roading project. The importance was not lost on the DominionPost editor.
He asked that every decision-making editorial executive including chief reporter, news editor, sub editor, illustrations editor, feature writers and news journalists, to stop their daily work schedules to attend the one hour briefing session.
Morrison McDougall then ran a series of public consultation meetings directly with the communities from Johnsonville through to Paekakariki, where the public were encouraged to ask questions and have their say.
The constant flow of stories, comment, opinion and debate rapidly built a strong support base for the Transmission Gully option and a preparedness to write a submission and present it to a hearings committee.
With more than 6000 submitters, the Morrison McDougall campaign set a new record in public consultation participation. More importantly the Government was given a strong demonstration of support from a wide range of Wellingtonians, who were united in wanting the $1 billion Transmission Gully route to proceed.