The death of three people on a notorious stretch of Northland road only emphasises the urgent need to upgrade the 22km from Whangarei to Port Marsden Highway.

In the crash on State Highway 1 at Oakleigh two women and a man were killed after three cars and a light truck collided earlier this month.

Those who were killed were 22-year-old Melissa Pauler from Germany, Fiona Elizabeth Cocker [nee Anderson], 52, and 54-year-old Kevin Andrew Cocker of Tomarata.

The section of road they died on was described as notorious by senior police officers at the scene.


Regional Transport Committee chairman John Bain said the deaths clearly showed there was a necessity to ensure the upgrade, which included a four lane highway, went ahead with urgency.

Statistics obtained by Bain show there have been 18 crashes, which led to 17 deaths, during the 10 years from 2006 to 2015 on SH1 between Toetoe Rd, south of Whangarei entrance, to the SH15A roundabout.

There have been 24 serious crashes leaving 35 people seriously injured and during the same period there have been 51 minor injury crashes, injuring 141 people.

The numbers do not include the fatalities from 2016 or this year.

"Every one of these fatalities is someone's family. In some cases there are children who will never get to know their parents. I'm just horrified by these statistics.

"I know a few people killed on that road and families have never recovered from the fatality and they are still badly affected by it."

With a steady flow of logging trucks, increased tourism and a massive increase in the number of people living in the Bream Bay area, it only meant more vehicles on the road.

"We have an obligation to ensure that roads are going to be safe for Northlanders and visitors that come to our country."

He said the Northland politicians needed to ensure the project, and the next phase to bypass the Brynderwyn hills, were kept to the forefront.

"I want to make sure this project is given some priority. It's a terrible record on this stretch of road that is only going to get busier," Mr Bain said.

"If you drive through Bay of Plenty and the Waikato you see the quality of the roads and I think we have been left behind in Northland.

In August there were a series of public meetings held in Northland by NZTA in which the upgrade options were considered.

The options include upgrading the existing road to a four-lane expressway, upgrading the existing highway for southbound travel and building two lanes to the west for northbound traffic, or building a new four-lane expressway.

A spokesman from the Minister of Transport's office said there had not been any changes to any of the existing transport projects.

Construction on the four-lane upgrade between Whangarei and Port Marsden Highway, a 22km stretch of road, is planned to start in 2019.