Protesters at the end of their walk down Tahunanui Dr on Friday afternoon. They want major traffic to stop being forced through the village. Photo: Sinead Ogilvie.

Tahuna protesters: save our village

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Near hits, suffering businesses and neglect were just some of the issues brought to light by 300 concerned residents, business owners and school children who marched up Tahunanui Dr on Friday.

The protest was organised to fight proposed changes to State Highway 6 that they say will ruin the community and to highlight an almost decade-long wait for safety issues to be resolved says Mike Thomas, co owner of Smugglers Pub & Café and the chair of Tahuna business Association. Mike says locals feel like they are being “neglected and ignored” by both NZTA and Nelson City Council over their opposition to remove all parking outside businesses or make the road a clearway 24 hours a day. He says Friday’s protest was about drawing attention to safety issues that have been ongoing and to stop any changes taking place without consideration of the local community. “Back in 2004 the structural plan that Nelson City Council released stated they wanted to keep Tahunanui as a village. The trouble you have with a main state highway going through a village is that it puts more pressure on our shops, our parking, on our resources and our children as well. It’s a safety issue.”

He says both the business association and the general public want something to be done to retain safety, street parking, and access to properties and was pleased to see such a large turnout for the protest. “We are a passionate little community.

We do want to make a lot of noise, and we do want to be heard. We want some respect from NZTA and for them to understand we mean business.”

Jacinda Stevenson, a local resident with three Tahunanui school children who normally walk to school together, says it is getting frustratingly more difficult to do so safely.

“We’ve had so many near misses. It’s supposed to be a nice relaxing thing, walking to school, but I just find that I end up abusing a motorist who doesn’t give way. It is just unsafe.”

NCC councillor Rachel Reese attended the march and says she was “delighted”  to see the number of people that turned up to support the cause.

“I think Tahunanui has been overlooked and hasn’t been shown the respect they deserve over many years. They have raised their safety concerns about this intersection now repeatedly,  and NZTA’s last approach of ignoring them was really unacceptable. It’s time that the council in Nelson advocated for this community and I’m absolutely behind them.”

Mayor Aldo Miccio met with Mike Thomas last night and says he agrees with their concerns and will continue to lobby the government over the issues.