International students to test public awareness of RiverLink Project

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What do you know about the RiverLink project? Four visiting students from the United States will be hitting the streets of Lower Hutt in the next few weeks to find out.

The students are about to begin a seven-week research project into the Lower Hutt community’s views and understanding of the “RiverLink” flood protection, city revitalisation and transport project. If you want to contribute you can complete the online survey here.

“RiverLink” (previously known as the Hutt River City Centre Upgrade Project) is a joint project between Greater Wellington Regional Council, Hutt City Council and the NZ Transport Agency designed to provide better flood protection, improved lifestyle and better transport links throughout Lower Hutt’s CBD.

The students will be assessing people’s awareness and understanding of the project and will explore opinions on how effective the engagement and communication with the community has been.

“We’ve done a lot of work to let people know about the project and get their ideas. The students’ research will tell us how successful we’ve been and what we might be missing,” says Prue Lamason GWRC Lower Hutt Ward Councillor.

GWRC project adviser Ross Jackson says it’s important to understand how much people know.

“We’ve engaged the public in the original decision on Option A and more recently about the preliminary design development.

We need to know whether they feel they have been listened to and where we could do better to increase public awareness and understanding.

“This year we will continue to engage and listen to the community as we move to complete preliminary designs for the project which will go before the Hutt Valley Floodplain Management Subcommittee at the end of the year. We want to ensure members of the public have lots of opportunity to make their views known and the students’ research will guide us in achieving that.”

The students are from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), a science and engineering University near Boston, Massachusetts. The university has been sending students to Wellington for several years to allow them to undertake high quality research projects at the intersection of technology, society and the environment.

This year’s project brief to the students is: “to explore the views of the Hutt Valley community on the level of understanding of RiverLink, evaluate the community engagement process to date and identify ways it can be improved”.

This involves:

· Gauging the level of understanding of the community to flood risk in Central Lower Hutt

· Exploring the views of the public on how well they understood the proposals and information put forward

· Gauging the feeling within the community about how well the design team has/is capturing their ideas and feedback

· Recommending engagement and community design tools for future use.

It is anticipated this project will complement and build on a study carried out in 2015 which investigated the views and perception of the Hutt Valley community on flooding and climate change.

For enquiries, contact Ross Jackson at GWRC, 04 830 4387 or

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