Ngāti Hine’s dustiest roads to undergo makeover

By Raniera Harrison

NZ Transport Agency has approved a funding request from the Far North District Council to dust-seal two of the regions most notoriously dusty stretches of road, hampered by high traffic levels of logging trucks.

The request, which will see more than 4 kilometers of Ngāpipito Rd and a further 1.91 kilometers of nearby Pipiwai Rd sealed is already under construction and due for completion by April this year.

The FNDC's operations committee chairwoman, councilor Ann Court, told Te Kāea today that, “it was an exciting prospect.”

“Immediately these peoples lives are going to improve. They're going to be able to drink the water that comes off the roof. They're going to be able to breathe without chronic respiratory illnesses” says Court, who has overlooked the operations of this case for the last three years."

Labour MP, Willow-Jean Prime says that the reasoning behind the numerous pleas of local iwi, Ngāti Hine and residents of the affected region was, “the health of the people.”

“Everyone was affected. From the elderly right through to newborn – and that was the scariest part,” adds Prime.

Court says that it is the beginning of an exciting pathway for the people here. However, the southern boundary of Ngāpipito Rd comes under the jurisdiction of the Whangarei District Council – who are yet to make comment on whether or not they would follow suit.

“They've got their own priorities and I don't know what their priorities are,” says Court.

The Whangārei District Council could not be reached for comment today, However, Prime says that maybe it is time for Government intervention.

“This is a plea to my constituents in Government to come to the North to see the intricacies of the region,” says the newly-elected Labour list MP.

The Far North District Council estimates the total cost of sealing all 1800 kilometers of Northland's critically dusty roads will cost $500m.

Meanwhile, the NZTA has also agreed to further dust reduction initiatives by approving the reallocation of extra funding to strengthen and improve the strength of more than 40km of unsealed roads. An extra 11.35km section of Ngapipito Rd, another 11.26km of nearby Pipiwai Rd and also 18.21km of Matawaia-Maromaku Rd will be upgraded.

Work will include laying geotextiles to strengthen road edges, extend culverts and improve drainage. The council will also improve visibility on corners.