Northland MP and NZ First Leader Winston Peters has joined the fight to have sealing done on notoriously dusty roads west of Whangarei that have plagued residents for at least 12 years.
A meeting was held between the veteran politician, residents of Wright, McCardle and Pipiwai Roads, representatives from Ritchies Bus, and Mangakahia Area School on Thursday to discuss the issue.
Residents have been fighting for 12 years to have their roads sealed and late last year the Whangarei District Council began sealing 10 strips, 100m long, outside some homes.
The council made that decision after failing to secure a $4.5 million from New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) for a full seal.
The residents have welcomed the strip seals but remain sceptical about whether the work would provide the relief they need.
Pipiwai Titoki Advocacy for Community Health and Safety Group spokeswoman Alex Wright said it was decided at the meeting to put pressure on the council and the Government for a complete seal of affected roads.
"I felt it was a very productive meeting and we've certainly made Mr Peters aware of the issues we are facing. He thought the road conditions were appalling."
The MP was fuming he was not allowed by the Ministry of Education on to the school bus after the meeting to see first-hand how the dust affected residents.
The ministry reportedly said bus company Ritchies had health and safety concerns about Mr Peters getting aboard. He was later driven around by Mrs Wright in her vehicle.
The outspoken MP said he would get to the bottom of the dust problem by raising the issue in Parliament.
"Why has such a serious issue been treated in a disgraceful way by the central Government? The road is dreadful and strip seals only help temporarily. These people have been fighting for this for 12 long years."
Mr Peters described the Government's attitude towards the plight of the residents as "inappropriate and deceptive in extreme".
He said the Government had neglected Northland roads, particularly since 2009 when it used all the rural road sealing budget on roads of national significance in other regions.
Whangarei District Council has allocated $400,000 over the next two years for the part sealing but, since the work is expected to cost $532,000, logging and trucking companies would be asked to make up the $132,000 shortfall.