New Zealand's national roading body has lost its only Northland voice with the departure of Ōkaihau's Ken Rintoul.
Rintoul, who until recently owned a civil engineering company, had been on the board of Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency since 2019. But a letter from Transport Minister Michael Wood dated November 10 told Rintoul his two-year term had not been renewed and his last day was November 11. His replacement started on November 12.
The letter thanked Rintoul for his service, which he said came at a critical time for Waka Kotahi as it responded to past regulatory failures and dealt with the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, the Advocate understands Rintoul had a number of disagreements with the board about the level of funding dedicated to the regions.
Rintoul had also raised concerns about regional boundaries used by Waka Kotahi, which he claimed led to a significant chunk of Northland road funding being spent in Auckland.
Wood told the Advocate he had recently appointed Tracey Martin, a former NZ First MP, and Ngarimu Blair, deputy chair of Ngāti Whātua Orākei iwi, both of whom brought strong skill sets to the board.
Waka Kotahi continued to have directors based in the regions with Catherine Taylor in Nelson-Tasman and Tracey Martin in Wairarapa, he said.
''It's important to me that the board possesses a range of membership that can represent the diverse views of New Zealanders, including a mixture of urban and regional perspectives. I'm satisfied that the board continues to represent the views of New Zealanders and has the skills to deliver a modern and sustainable transport network.''
However, Far North deputy mayor Ann Court, who represents Northland councils on the Regional Land Transport Committee, said concerns remained about the board's urban focus.
''The regional and provincial voice needs to be represented at the table, to stop them making really dopey decisions — like not funding footpaths in regional and provincial New Zealand, because there supposedly aren't enough people walking,'' Court said.
Wood defended Waka Kotahi's spending record in Northland, saying the agency had earlier this year allocated $344 million for maintenance and operations across Northland, following calls for more investment in the region.