The government's proposed overhaul of the taxi consent process will put passengers and drivers at risk, says the country's largest taxi company.
The Land Transport Amendment Bill, which has passed through the Select Committee stage, will bring taxis, shuttles, private hire vehicles, and dial-a-driver services into a single category.
Transport Minister Simon Bridges argues the revised system will deliver benefits through increased competition and provide more flexibility to accommodate new technologies.
The changes do away with area knowledge and English language tests, which Bridges said were redundant thanks to GPS technology.
They also remove the requirement for all taxis to have in-vehicle recording cameras, introduced in 2011 after two cabbies were murdered in little more than a year.
Bridges said this was because new technology identified the driver and the passenger before anyone got into the vehicle.
"This is really about trying to move with the times and bring the legal framework into the 21st Century where we've got significant innovation in the sector," he told the Herald.
But Blue Bubble Taxis chief executive Bob Wilkinson said the new technology was not as effective as cameras.
"All it shows is that the two phones know each other but who's holding those phones is out of our control. We have seen drivers who are registered with a company ... not being who actually turns up.
"You've also got instances where, for example, parents have given their accounts for their children to use," Wilkinson said. "We don't believe, from our experience, that's good enough to protect either the passenger or the driver."
As far as the removal of the local knowledge tests, Wilkinson said there was no substitute for knowing your beat.
"I'm based in Christchurch and GPS in Christchurch isn't always up-to-date as to where the cones are sitting so it could lead you up a blind alley whereas local knowledge will always trump GPS."
Likewise, removing the English language requirements would cause major problems.
"It will make it really difficult to get an address off somebody and process a GPS unit if you don't speak the same language. Almost impossible," Wilkinson said.
"If you get a driver whose second language is English and repeat some of the New Zealand street names to him and ask him to type that into his GPS, you're going to have an argument in the car, aren't you?"
Another major concern was the removal of the training requirements for fatigue management and keeping proper log books.
"It means you'll have a large group of professional drivers who are no longer trained or tested on their knowledge of how to fill out a log book or how to recognise or manage fatigue.
"They're the only group of professional drivers in New Zealand who won't have done that."
Bridges said safety was paramount and emphasised that the Passenger Endorsement (P Endorsement) process remained in place which meant that there was still a police and health check.
He said the in-vehicle camera requirement had made a positive impact but new technology meant there were new ways of ensuring safety.
The new regime would introduce a system where "you have an app where the potential passenger is pre-registered and has an image of him or herself that the driver will see and vice versa".
Passenger vehicles which didn't have such a system would still be required to have a camera.
If people used such an app when they were not the registered user then they would be in breach of the law, he said.
"I think the checks and balances are there. Just because what we're allowing for under the new regime is different it definitely in my view doesn't mean it's less safe."
As far as the English langauge tests were concerned, Bridges said there was already the ability to test English language in becoming a resident of New Zealand and therefore being able to work in this field.
Asked about Wilkinson's concerns regarding the removal of training around fatigue management and log books, Bridges said: "At the moment to get a P Endorsement is far, far too much -- it's over $1000. Ultimately when this new regime comes into place it will be about a third of that. That involves getting rid of some testing we no longer thought had a benefit that outweighed the cost and included in that was this testing."
Bridges was confident Uber would comply with the new regime.