At least three requests to lower the speed limit on Matapihi Rd were made to the Tauranga City Council before a 5-year-old girl was killed on the road on Saturday.
The Bay of Plenty Times can today reveal the council received two formal submissions from the Matapihi community requesting the speed limit be lowered and had received another request from a local school.
Shinia Matehaere died after a collision with a ute near Waikari Rd. She was riding her pink and white bike at the time.
Shinia was farewelled by her family and the community yesterday.
Her death has renewed calls for the speed limit to be reduced.
Shinia was a pupil at Te Kura o Matapihi and board of trustees chairman Spencer Webster said the board and school staff had been concerned about road safety around the kura and Matapihi Rd for some time.
"We have been working with the council on measures to improve road safety. There has been progress on some aspects but a lower speed limit had not yet been actioned.
"The recent and tragic loss of Shinia has strengthened the resolve of our kura to continue to push for changes to the speed limit and other safety measures.
"We consider that all parties must work collaboratively and expeditiously on this important matter. In our view, the loss of our precious taonga requires nothing less than that."
Western Bay of Plenty head of road policing Ian Campion said it was still too early to say whether speed was a factor in Shinia's death. However, the issue has been raised with the council in recent years.
Council chief executive Garry Poole said between 2005 and 2015 the council received two formal submissions from the Matapihi community requesting the speed limit be lowered.
In 2010, a concerned resident phoned the council asking that the speed limit be lowered to 50km/h but the council's response was that a review into existing limits would be hard to justify as it was a rural area.
The recent and tragic loss of Shinia has strengthened the resolve of our kura to continue to push for changes to the speed limit and other safety measures.
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In 2012, the council received a letter from the Matapihi Residents and Ratepayers Association requesting the 80km/h zone between Bayfair Estate and the built-up area of Matapihi be lowered to 70km/h, then down to 50km/h past houses. It currently ranges from 80km/h to 70km/h, including outside the school.
Both submissions highlighted community concerns at vehicle speeds through pipeline construction areas plus safety of children getting on and off buses, Mr Poole said.
He said the council's response referred to a speed limit review tentatively proposed for July 2012 but no review was budgeted for or undertaken.
The council completed city-wide speed limit reviews for all roads including Matapihi's over 60km/h in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2013 but Matapihi roads were not selected for further investigation.
At the end of last year, Te Kura o Matapihi asked the council to look at lowering the speed limit outside the school and "there is evidence to suggest that the school may also have raised the speed limit as a concern in 2008".
In 2008 a survey of speeds outside the school showed an average of 57km/h.
Mr Poole said a safety review of Matapihi Rd was under way and included the level of street lighting so the council could develop a programme of removal or roadside protection; and traffic signs and road markings in which it would consider changes to the reflectivity intensity to help combat night-time crashes.
A separate review into the speed limit was another option the council might consider, he said.
However, this would not happen before the NZ Transport Agency released its National Speed Management Guide on July 1.
Charlie Timutimu has lived on Matapihi Rd for 28 years and said he had noticed a marked increase in traffic He said, as a resident, he felt ignored by the council.
"I like to see the speed limit dropped as you come off Bayfair Estate, right through."
Mr Timutimu questioned why a school on Welcome Bay Rd could have a lower speed limit but their local school could not.