Step off it: Brakes ap­plied to ru­ral speed lim­its

Re­stric­tions com­ing to Far North roads

The Northern Advocate - - Front Page - Peter de Graaf

The speed limit on more than 30 ru­ral roads in the Far North is set to drop by 40km/h and a hand­ful of roads will have their lim­its slashed by 60km/h.

The speed limit re­duc­tions are part of the na­tion­wide “Road to Zero” road safety strat­egy.

Sim­i­lar changes are un­der­way in the Whanga¯rei and Kaipara dis­tricts.

In gen­eral, the new lim­its are 80km/h for sealed ru­ral roads and 60km/h for un­sealed roads, down from the ex­ist­ing 100km/h open road limit, with lower lim­its on nar­row or windy roads and around schools.

Res­i­dents who made sub­mis­sions about the plan have gen­er­ally wel­comed the new speed lim­its, though some say they don’t go far enough and oth­ers want the coun­cil to up­grade roads in­stead.

State high­ways aren’t in­cluded in the re­view – the NZ Trans­port Author­ity has been car­ry­ing out its own re­view of high­way speeds – and the stan­dard ur­ban limit will re­main at 50km/h.

With so many roads to be con­sid­ered, the Far North District Coun­cil is fo­cussing on one area at a time,¯start­ing with al­most 70 roads in the Okai­hauKaeo-Wai­mate area.

That in­cludes im­por­tant routes such as Wiroa Rd, where the limit will drop to 60km/h in the in­creas­ingly built-up stretch be­tween SH10 and Kerik­eri air­port and 80km/h there­after, in­stead of the cur­rent 80km/h and 100km/h. The limit on Wai­mate North Rd will drop from 100km/ h to a mix of 60km/h and 80km/h while Te Ahu Ahu Rd will go from 100km/h to 80km/h.

The plan drew 175 sub­mis­sions when it went out for con­sul­ta­tion in Oc­to­ber.

Res­i­dents who spoke at the hear­ings in­cluded Keith Hawkins, who called for a lower limit on Wai­mate North Rd.

Hawkins said the road was gravel when he moved to the area in 2007 but since it was sealed about 10 years ago peo­ple had started us­ing it as a route be­tween Kerik­eri and Kaikohe.

“Now they’ve found it’s sealed they race right through. If the limit is 100, peo­ple will try to go 100 . . . It’s a shame, it’s a very pretty road and very his­toric.”

Hawkins said sev­eral sec­tions of the road were un­com­fort­able even at 80km/h so he wel­comed the de­ci­sion to set a split 80/60km/h limit.

The road, one of New Zealand’s old­est, was also used by pedes­tri­ans but had no foot­paths and in places not even a shoul­der, he said.

Wiremu Tane, a kau­matua at Orom­a­hoe Marae, is call­ing for an even greater re­duc­tion on Porotu Rd, a no-exit road off SH10 where the limit will drop from 100km/h to 60km/h.

The road is due to be sealed, news that Tane wel­comed, but that could bring its own prob­lems.

“We have hoons speed­ing up and down our road at times. If we have peo­ple speed­ing now, with the cor­ru­ga­tions and dust, imag­ine what they’ll do with seal.”

His chief con­cern was for the safety of chil­dren who walked along the road to Orom­a­hoe School, as they had done for gen­er­a­tions.

Tane called for a 50km/h limit with 30km/h out­side the marae.

“I think 60 is still too fast. It’s hu­man na­ture that 60 is ac­tu­ally 70,” he said.

The new lim­its were agreed at a coun­cil meet­ing on Thurs­day, which was held via Mi­crosoft Teams and livestream­ed to the pub­lic for the first time in the coun­cil’s his­tory.

It is not yet clear when the new lim­its will come into force.

Con­trac­tors need to be en­gaged to in­stall the new signs and Covid-19 re­stric­tions may add de­lays.

The cost of re­plac­ing speed limit signs is es­ti­mated to be $190,000 to $300,000.

Ac­cord­ing to a coun­cil re­port, sev­eral sub­mit­ters said the new lim­its would work only if they were prop­erly en­forced. Oth­ers wor­ried that speed­ing fines had a dis­pro­por­tion­ate ef­fect on low-in­come peo­ple.

Some called on the coun­cil to widen and im­prove roads in­stead of re­duc­ing speed lim­its.

One sub­mit­ter called for Ger­man-style au­to­bahns, which had no speed limit.

In re­sponse, coun­cil staff said bet­ter roads would be de­sir­able but came at a sig­nif­i­cant cost.

Even with govern­ment sub­si­dies, the coun­cil’s road­ing bud­get was lim­ited.

Staff also noted that while the coun­cil set speed lim­its, po­lice were re­spon­si­ble for en­force­ment.

Fines did not go to the coun­cil or to po­lice, but ended up in a gen­er­alpur­pose govern­ment fund.

The next ar­eas in line for re­view are Kaitaia-Awaroa and Ko­huko­huBroad­wood be­cause, ac­cord­ing to the re­port, they have some of the high­est-risk roads in the Far North.

That will be fol­lowed by Kerik­eri-Waipapa, which in­cludes the con­tentious Kapiro Rd, where res­i­dents have been cam­paign­ing for an 80km/h limit for years.

Coun­cil­lor David Clen­don said car­ry­ing out the speed re­view one area at a time would lead to anom­alies.

The new speed limit on the Kerik­eri end of Wiroa Rd would be 60km/h yet the more ur­banised Kerik­eri Rd would for now re­main 80km/h, which could catch out un­sus­pect­ing driv­ers, he said.

Foot­paths and other im­prove­ments will be added to Wiroa Rd at some point to make the 60km/h speed limit more self­ex­plana­tory.

Deputy Mayor Ann Court suc­cess­fully moved an amend­ment to have fund­ing for those im­prove­ments con­sid­ered in the next Re­gional Land Trans­port Plan.

The Whanga¯rei District Coun­cil is also re­view­ing its speed lim­its one area at a time.

It con­sulted on changes in the Mars­den Pt-Waipu-Vine­gar Hill ar­eas last Novem­ber. Whanga¯rei Heads will be next. Kaipara District Coun­cil’s plans to start speed limit re­views in the Man­gawhai-Kai­waka area have been de­layed by Covid-19.

"I think 60 is still too fast. It’s hu­man na­ture that 60 is ac­tu­ally 70." Wiremu Tane


Res­i­dent Keith Hawkins backs a de­ci­sion to lower the speed limit on Wai­mate North Rd, say­ing it has be­come an ac­cess route be­tween Kaikohe and Kerik­eri since the road was sealed about 10 years ago.


The speed limit on most of Wai­mate North Rd will drop from 100km/h to 80km/h.

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