A protest movement is in the works among Western Bay residents who are angry upgrades to State Highway 2 have not been given a higher priority.

This comes after a group of residents attended an Omokoroa Future Focus meeting on Wednesday night. Some say they left the meeting feeling even more frustrated.

The highway between Katikati and Tauranga is considered one of New Zealand's most dangerous roads.

From 2012 to 2016, 18 people died on the road and there were 35 serious crashes and 95 minor crashes.


Te Puna resident Sean Lett said he was so "wild" he left Wednesday night's meeting early after he felt little progress was being made towards the future of State Highway 2.

Lett told the Bay of Plenty Times a meeting had been set up to organise "some kind of protest" but supplied no further details.

"I've had enough. These people [councillors and MPs] are making decisions about other people's lives, it's very very frustrating," Lett said.

Whakamarama resident Robert Cross said a group of "fiery" and "passionate" residents filled Settlers Hall.

He believed a four-lane highway was the only proposal that would resolve the issue of the number of fatalities on State Highway 2.

Omokoroa residents had also launched a petition calling for the Bay of Plenty Regional Council to make upgrading the Omokoroa to Te Puna stretch of State Highway 2 a higher priority.

Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller said for State Highway 2 to be listed No 11 on the regional transport committees list of priorities was an "utter disgrace".

"The community is outraged, and quite rightly so," Muller said.

"I have a total appreciation of the frustration the community is feeling and my promise to them is that I will continue to push this issue as hard as I can in Wellington on their behalf."

Labour list MP Angie Warren-Clark spoke at Wednesday's meeting and agreed local residents were "upset".

Warren-Clark said the upgrade of State Highway 2 was going ahead, but the New Zealand Transport Agency, not the Government, would decide when it would happen.

She said that at the meeting she "made a commitment" to advocate on behalf of the community as the roading upgrade was "too important" to ignore.

Western Bay councillor Don Thwaites said there had been nine fatalities on a 4km stretch of State Highway 2 in the past nine years.

"This should not just be a No 1 priority for the Bay of Plenty but a No 1 priority for New Zealand."

Western Bay Mayor Garry Webber said: "We will be putting in a pretty strong submission, you can be sure of that."

Regional Land Transport Plan timeline
February 19 – Public consultation opens
March 23 – Public consultation closes
April 11-12 – Hearings
May 7 – Deliberations
June 8 – Regional Transport Committee makes a recommendation to the regional council
June 21 – Regional council considers plan for approval
June 30 – Final plan submitted to NZ Transport Agency
August 31 – NZ Transport Agency releases National Land Transport Programme
Source - Bay of Plenty Regional Council