A brush with the law in Ta­panui


OPIN­ION: On a win­try West Otago morn­ing re­cently, I sped up the hill into Ta­panui on the way to the Lawrence-Tuapeka Com­mu­nity Board meet­ing – and into the arms of the lo­cal law­man, Se­nior con­sta­ble John Mawhin­ney.

I’d been pinged. I’d failed to no­tice the 50kmh speed sign at the top of the hill.

Why on earth is the sign there, and not at the bot­tom of the hill to the south, I asked the se­nior con­sta­ble. He said he’d been ask­ing the same ques­tion.

The awk­ward place­ment of the 50kmh sign, and on the north­ern flip­side, the 100kmh sign, had been at­tract­ing com­plaints from peo­ple liv­ing in the new Dor- set St sub­di­vi­sion on State High­way 90, so he’d been polic­ing the brow of the hill with some vigour.

We had a very civilised con­ver­sa­tion, and we came to the con­clu­sion that it should be about 200m south down the hill near the Wel­come to Ta­panui sign.

I was go­ing to ar­gue the ticket. But what if I’d hit a child? So I sucked it up and paid it.

Then to my sur­prise, the se­nior con­sta­ble rocks up at the West Otago Com­mu­nity Board meet­ing on Wed­nes­day. I thought, oh no, am I busted – again? But what for? How­ever, he was there to get the board’s sup­port for a let­ter he was writ­ing to the NZ Trans­port Agency to move the sign, which would create a ‘‘buf­fer-zone’’ to tran­si­tion from an open road speed to the res­i­den­tial area.

He also said he’d only just found out the Po­lice had a pol­icy of not tick­et­ing any­one for speed­ing within 250m of a road speed zone.

I’m pretty sure I was well within that dis­tance of the 50kmh sign (see, I should have ar­gued it).

The com­mu­nity board seemed in sup­port of the move for the sake of res­i­dents’ safety - and surely some of them have been pinged too.

So just how many tick­ets has Se­nior con­sta­ble Mawhin­ney is­sued, and how many peo­ple will be storm­ing the po­lice sta­tion try­ing to get off their fine af­ter this? That could be a topic for an­other day.


The 50kmh speed sign at Ta­panui’s south­ern en­trance.

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