Transmission Gully: the astrology of a roading project

Graham Ibell

Transmission Gully is the name of a massive road-building project, involving the construction a 4-lane motorway between Paekakariki and Porirua in the Wellington area, New Zealand. Controversial due to its high cost, environmental implications, the challenging terrain and the earthquake-prone route, it has been promoted as a road that will provide less-congested access into Wellington as well as an alternative to the three main ways into the city, all of which might be cut off in the event of a severe earthquake. The road is expected to be completed in 2020.

Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

The project was officially started on the 8th September 2012, although work didn’t begin on the route for some months. However, this date was marked with a  ‘turning the sod’ ceremony by the then-Prime Minister John Key. Photo records show this to have taken place at 1:41pm, just outside Paekakariki, and the chart below is drawn for this moment (see footnote 1).

What might we expect to see from such a chart? Being a highly significant moment in the project’s life, it should give us a symbolic image of the whole thing,: its background, its purpose, is challenges, its economics and funding, its effectiveness, in fact its essential make-up and on-going destiny. A lot to expect from such a seemingly insignificant ceremony. But astrology time and time again shows us how rich and useful these ‘mundane’ charts can be. Let’s take a quick look at it.

Capricorn rises: this is a massive construction project requiring excellent planning, coordinated timing, structural excellence practically and organisationally, and authoritative leadership. Saturn, the chart ruler, in Scorpio, brings the sort of tenacity, intensity of focus, and control such a project might need. Curiously both Saturn and Scorpio are traditionally associated with gullies. It’s 11th house placement (house of “hopes and wishes”) carries the image of it being a road for the people. What is most reassuring about this placement is, given what I discuss below, this combination shows great resilience and an almost indefatigable spirit of renewal at any cost. This is a project that’s here for the long-haul. The conjunction between this Saturn and Mars, very strong in his own sign, adds very much to this picture. With this signature of almost brutal stubbornness, along with other placements, financial controversies will no doubt arise. Mars’ strength also shows the impressive ‘muscle power’ and determination that is behind knocking the route into shape.

Mars’ rulership of the 4th house, the ’home’, terrain or bedrock through and over which the road passes, points to where some of the challenges might come from. With Uranus (shock, sudden change) in the 4th, we have here an image of great instability: despite the impressively powerful (Mars’) attempts to control the environment and carve a bed for the road, it is in fact being given a very precarious  home.

Transmission Gully - Local Space lines.jpg

It’s fascinating to see this connection with unstable Uranus shown in another way. In the map to the right, note the direction of the Local Space line for Uranus. And in the horoscope itself, that Uranus is conjunct the South Node (to the Vedic astrologers, the violently whipping tail of the dragon) doesn’t help matters. Uranus is also given, by modern authors, rulership of electricity and therefore transmission lines, another nod the aptness of this astrological chart.

The project is managed by a government-private partnership, so it’s fitting to see Libra, sign of partnership, on the cusp of the 10th house of leadership. The 10th’s ruler, Venus, in Virgo is marvellously apt for an engineering project, showing great pragmatism, order and an eye for detail. With some dignities and mutual receptions Venus shows a hard-working, efficient and fairly effective, if pedantic, management, but that she is in her fall in the 8th house and opposed by Neptune suggests this isn’t as easy as it might seem, with intense pressures, a lack of transparency, financial constraints and even delusions taking their toll. Sun in the 9th, ruler of the financial 8th house, could symbolise foreign investment, whilst expansive and entitled Jupiter in Leo on the 8th cusp brings over-spending big-time.

Other points of interest include:

  • This is largely a water-earth chart, elementally apt given the project and location. However such a combination can bring turgidity, and may suggest on-going water and water-induced subsidence issues;

  • Thought it’s the only planet in air, Mercury’s placement in Libra at the top of the chart shows that clear, balanced communication may be prioritised, even if its not always reflective of what is really going on;

  • The chart carries the Uranus square Pluto, an aspect characteristic of the last several years, and is symbolic of intense change and instability. Radically transformative, perhaps;

  • Strong Neptune (obscuration) signatures (Moon in Pisces conjunct Neptune; Sun and Venus opposite Neptune) show spin, a lack of transparency, and, more prosaically, a tendency towards dampness. We might also see a polarisation against those in opposition to the project (Moon rules the 7th house of ‘open enemies’), possibly also friction between management (Venus) and the workers (Moon);

  • And Neptune on the cusp of the 3rd house, the house given to communication and roading infrastructure, could even suggest the road doesn’t quite turn out to be what the public have hoped - a rather expensive illusion;

  • The mutual reception between the rulers of the 10th house of leadership (Venus) and the 9th house of foreignness (Mercury) could point to foreign investment deals somewhere along the line.

The future construction

To finish, here are a few key moments in the coming two years, based simply on transits to this chart. These are surprisingly concentrated and challenging, showing that despite the chart painting a picture of an ambitious, organised, and determined project, the last stages of the road build could in fact be incredibly difficult:

  1. January 2019 transits have a feel of violence to them: force and the sudden unexpected emergence or release of tensions (footnote 2). There is extreme tension between the expansive, and orderly and controlled (f3), threatening to overwhelm the vision and investment (f4). The latter part of the month could be particularly troublesome.

  2. April-May 2019 will probably be intense, with the whole project under extreme pressure, even threatened (f5).

  3. January-April 2020: With so many transits breaching the Ascendant this could hardly be a more difficult birth (f6). Perhaps not even the cool calm machine that’s behind this project, nor the tense sinew of which it’s made, could master what may be thrown at this project over this period.

  4. September-December 2020. As if being kicked when already down, this could be make-or-break time: either the project will pick itself up and find an answer to these challenges, or it may die (f7). 

In a recent study of the astrological signs of earthquake for Wellington (f8) I highlighted January 2019 specifically, and late 2018-early 2019 more generally, as one of the more likely times for a significant event in the coming 5 years, along with other periods over 2020. Given the impact a sizeable earthquake would have on the Transmission Gully road, the above periods could be seen as possibly corroborating that prediction. Whether an earthquake or no, the signs seem fairly indicative here of an overwhelming challenge to the life of this project to the extent that it might either have to be canned completely, moth-balled, or significantly altered. Fortunately it appears to have been given deep resources of obsessive resilience which, finances allowing, may enable it to keep on going to the end.


  1.  From Charles Fone, Community Relations Officer for the Transmission Gully Project in an email 11th September 2018.

  2. transiting Saturn square tr Mars (on the 22nd), tr Mars con Uranus (24th), tr Saturn square Uranus (29th), lunar eclipse semi-square Sun-opp-Chiron (orb 0º28’). Solar eclipse (6th) at 15º25’ Caprocorn squares Uranus (orb 0º14’), and tr Pluto square Moon’s Nodes (14th).

  3. tr Jupiter square Sun in Virgo in the 8th (18th) 

  4. tr Neptune square tJupiter (14th), within 1º of opposing and squaring Sun.

  5. tr Saturn and tr Pluto stationing just shy of the Ascendant; Neptune has been opposing Sun January-March.

  6. transits to the Ascendant: tr Saturn in January/February, tr Mars crosses over the 2nd half of March, tr Jupiter March/April, and then tr Pluto throughout the autumn (March to May) and beyond.

  7. tr Jupiter, Saturn (at station in September within 0º24’) and Pluto crossing the Ascendant.

  8. See G. Ibell (2018) Shocking news: A major earthquake in the Wellington area in the period 2018-2020?, Journal of the Astrology Federation Incorporated, Issue Spring 2018. Or the full article on these pages here