Cherie Howie is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Local Elections 2016: It's all roads, all the time in Rodney

Transport is on everyone's mind in Rodney.
Muriwai's natural attraction, the gannet colony, contrasts with the severe traffic congestion suffered by locals on the other side of Rodney. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Muriwai's natural attraction, the gannet colony, contrasts with the severe traffic congestion suffered by locals on the other side of Rodney. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Roads, roads, roads.

All the candidates seeking Rodney's single Auckland Council seat talk about them. And so do its long-suffering residents.

Among them is Tony Forlong, the chairman of Northwest Country, a business development group covering Riverhead to Kaukapakapa.

"I live in Kumeu. We have traffic jams that would stack up to any you see in the city ... they've boxed on with these subdivisions but they haven't thought about how people are going to get in and out of the area."

Auckland Council's northernmost ward, which stretches from Muriwai and Taupaki in the south to Te Arai Pt in the north, and includes the towns of Helensville, Warkworth and Kumeu, had a population of just over 54,000 at the 2013 census.

That was up 11 per cent since 2006, and growth is expected to continue.

Kumeu Huapai Residents and Ratepayers' Association chairman Pete Sinton, who is a town planner, said the population in his area alone was expected to jump by 30,000 over the next three decades.

He was worried.

"We know that growth is going to come in half that time. We're five minutes from the end of the motorway and we have no transport planning done by Auckland Transport and the New Zealand Transport Agency."

At Warkworth, Mahurangi Collective chairman Mark Illingworth also spoke of horror congestion. He said the worst was at Hill St intersection, where State Highway 1 meets the turn-off for Matakana.

"Our biggest problem is roading. For six months of the year we can't move."

The lack of adequate sporting facilities in the ward was another big problem.

Planning was under way for a multi-purpose facility in Warkworth, but it had been a long battle, he said. Some were also pushing for a public swimming pool -- none exist in Rodney, although Rodney Local Board deputy chairman and ward candidate Steven Garner said he would support a pool only if residents wanted to fund it via a targeted rate.

In Wellsford, Four Square owner Joe Dodd said the lack of buses to Warkworth was a frequent complaint from customers.

Rodney Local Board chairwoman Brenda Steele said there was no public transport in Wellsford, and Warkworth was served by privately owned public transport.

"If we are going to be part of Auckland, we want the same sort of services as Auckland."

Along with Garner, fellow local board member Greg Sayers and Holly Southernwood are also challenging a sitting councillor, former Rodney mayor Penny Webster.

Webster, who has held her council seat since the Super City amalgamation in 2010, said along with tackling congestion, residents wanted more roads sealed. Almost 700km of the ward's roads are unsealed.

Managing transport challenges and the pressure of continued growth were the biggest issues in Rodney.

"It is a juggling act to deal with growth but also keep the uniqueness that is Rodney."


Monday: Auckland mayoral hopefuls share their vision
Tuesday: Waitemata
Wednesday: Albert-Eden-Roskill and Manurewa-Papakura
Thursday: Albany and Howick
Friday: Licensing trusts and DHBs
Today: All the Auckland wards, plus regional highlights, in our local body election supplement

- NZ Herald

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