Waka Kotahi responds to whānau call for road safety changes

updated By Aroha Mane

Waka Kotahi says road safety changes are pending for a Far North road where two brothers were injured in separate accidents.

Last week 11-year-old Seth Ngawhika was hit by a truck after getting off the school bus last Tuesday. He’s fighting for his life in Starship Hospital.

It's the same spot where his brother Billy was hurt in 2018. He was hit by a car after also hopping off the school bus.

Seth’s injuries are far more severe says his sister, Santana Ngawhika.

“Seth is in an induced coma right now. They're monitoring the fluids in his brain so there is no buildup pressure. He has a massive head injury with two cracks to the side of his head. Doctors say he will be deaf on the left side and may have brain damage. We are hoping … for the best outcome really,” she says.

Santana wants her brother to pull through.

“He's really outgoing, he loves basketball, riding his bikes. He always enjoys making YouTube videos and it’s something he's just gotten into. He loves being with his friends and cousins.”

She says the Far North community of Kareponia is backing their call for the speed limit on State Highway 10 between Awanui and Kaingaroa to be reduced.

“We as a community want the speed reduced with a footpath for the kids as well as cyclists and for people who want to do exercise along that road. A bus shelter where kids can safely wait for their bus as well as a shoulder on each of the roads for the bus to pull in and out safely,” says Santana.

Steve Mutton, the Waka Kotahi Director Regional Relationships says the agency has been looking at improving safety on the 7km stretch of road and actively working with iwi from Kareponia, Awanui and Kaingaroa.

“We have considered a number of safety interventions including safer speeds, electronic variable speed signs and other measures which could assist in preventing crashes happening, or if a crash does occur, then reducing the level of harm to those involved,” he says.

Waka Kotahi says an announcement about the changes was actually scheduled prior to Tuesday’s accident involving Seth. A new date is being confirmed and the changes will be shared more widely with ‘other key partners and communities’.

In the meantime, Santana says her whānau is grateful for the support it’s received

“Mum and dad are with him 24-7 and he's got the medical care support team helping him every day. We just want to say thank you for the amount of love and support from everyone.”

Proceeds from a Give-a-little fund will help whānau to travel and care for Seth.