Whangarei Mayor Sheryl Mai said she considers State Highway One between Auckland and Whangarei to be a neglected regional road.

Her comments come after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern this week poured cold water on nine of the highway projects National proposed in the lead up to the election, saying neglected regional roads were more worthy of taxpayer money.

Among those proposals was the continuous four lane extension of the highway between Warkworth and Whangarei.

Read more: Jacinda Ardern cool on four-lane highway to Northland proposals


"I agree with Prime Minister Ardern that neglected regional roads need investment. The highway between Auckland and Whangarei is one of those," Ms Mai said.

National MPs around the country have started petitions for the highways in their regions, including Whangarei's Dr Shane Reti and Northland's Matt King. Dr Reti said the petition was to get the funding committed for the proposal.

Ms Ardern said the roads the National MPs had put petitions up for were proposals, with no money set aside for them and no plans around what they would look like.

"We'd be much better off investing in some of those neglected regional roads, and in urban areas some alternatives to roading as well."

Ms Mai said the highway remains the top priority for her, while Northland's Land Transport plan identifies areas for investment. She said roads were one of the basic infrastructures everybody used, whether they drove on them, or they used the goods and services which were transported along them.

Ms Ardern said Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter would be meeting with mayors to discuss which regional roads would be prioritised.

"I look forward to meeting with her and discussing our priorities," Ms Mai said.

She said SH1 was the key message but she would also discuss what other levels of investment the Government was prepared to put into regional roads. Ms Mai said she expected other regions would also be putting their hands up.

"We'll certainly be putting our case forward."