The high number of serious motor vehicle crashes, some resulting in fatalities in less than two weeks on State Highway 1 is totally unacceptable to Kāpiti and Horowhenua, say Kāpiti Coast mayor K. Gurunathan and Horowhenua mayor Michael Feyen .

Both mayors are demanding an effective and immediate response from NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) before the heavy holiday traffic heads north.

"That means now," they said.

Horowhenua District Mayor Michael Feyen
Horowhenua District Mayor Michael Feyen

The mayors say two fatalities occurred on sections of highway that NZTA would claim have had "safety improvements" recently – at Ōhau and the Waikawa Beach turnoff on the Manakau straight.


Local people have tried to make NZTA understand that the Waikawa turnoff is now more dangerous than before, the mayors say.

On the community's behalf the mayors are seeking an urgent meeting with NZTA's senior leadership team to find a way to make changes before there are more fatalities.

Feyen and Gurunathan believe that it is not simply a matter of reducing the speed limit, but making physical safety improvements. NZTA has publicly stated that it will fund and build them, but it is imperative that this is done immediately with a clear start date.

Kapiti mayor K Gurunathan
Kapiti mayor K Gurunathan

"These recent tragic accidents continue the observation of former coroner Philip Comber who noted that, over the past 25 years, the roads had become "a killing field marked like a battlefield with white crosses"," said Gurunathan.

"I want to appeal directly to Transport Minister Phil Twyford to step in as this systemic killing field scenario is contrary to his government's stated GPS [Government Policy Statement] priority on safety.

"People in Ōtaki are vulnerable because they are forced to travel north to Levin and Palmerston North for access to a lot of their services. Ōtaki residents rushing to access health services have to negotiate this killing field."

Feyen said there were numerous improvements that could be delivered by NZTA right now that would make an immediate difference.

"None of these are excessively costly in the greater scheme of things. What price can be put on human life?

"NZTA has to accept that the local communities have had enough and further delays are not an option."