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State Highway closures not acceptable


It is unacceptable that Wairoa continues to be isolated due to slips and damage on State Highways, says Wairoa Mayor Craig Little.

“We can no longer live on the edge of vulnerability when every time it rains, our state highways close. Everyone in Wairoa is suffering, our whānau, our businesses, our farmers, our foresters, our horticulturists. We need the government to step in; this isolation and lack of connectivity can no longer be tolerated.”

Mr Little described Wairoa as a community under enormous pressure, with constant state highway road closures across all State Highways into and out of the district adding to anxiety levels.

“We cannot sustain state highway road closures every time it rains. We become too vulnerable, and it costs our community. We need to look at the big picture. Lack of connectivity causes huge financial and productivity losses for Wairoa and the rest of New Zealand. Instead of losing money, our district needs central government investment into reliable roading so we can grow, not go backward.

“I acknowledge Cyclone Gabrielle caused considerable damage, and repair work is being carried out. However, we have been living like this for 10 months and more urgency is needed. We are one of the most isolated communities in New Zealand, yet I have seen no sign of escalating the work programme in recognition of our needs.

“We need the Government here to see what is happening and to work alongside us in our recovery and future resilience.”

Mr Little said this week, for the second Monday in a row, slipping has closed SH2 between Wairoa and Napier. “This lack of connectivity comes at a considerable cost, with people unable to get home, access health services, stock and other freight services are effectively shut down, and there is a significant inconvenience on people’s lives. Patching our roads is no longer acceptable, we need long-term resilient solutions, and we need them now.

“SH2 between Wairoa and Napier remains severely compromised. We need investment to increase resilience and prevent slipping so it doesn’t occur in the first place. SH2 between Wairoa and Gisborne is also fragile, with the Morere Hill area a ticking time bomb. SH38 remains a real option, but despite our vulnerability, it is still not treated like a national highway and is the only unsealed State Highway in New Zealand.

“We are 10 months post-Cyclone Gabrielle; we should have work underway on alternatives, such as overpasses, bridges and realignments, particularly for problem areas like the Waikare Gorge and Devil’s Elbow. I urge Government Ministers to come to Wairoa and see for yourselves the pressure we are under and support us in accelerating options to protect our people.”

5 December 2023

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