Rāwene residents are calling for urgent pedestrian safety improvements on their main street, saying the current footpath is incomplete, in disrepair and a danger to children and the elderly.
Parnell St covers a distance of just under 2km from the town centre to the hospital at the top of the hill.
Along the way the footpath switches from one side of the road to the other and sometimes vanishes entirely, forcing people to walk on the road.
At one point pedestrians have to use a private driveway, then climb a set of steps with a rickety wooden handrail to where the footpath resumes.
Local resident Ginni Post said the increasingly busy road passed a primary school, pensioner flats, the former NorthTec campus, and the hospital.
"The footpath has been in disrepair and part of it non-existent for way longer than I've lived in town."
She had particular concerns for the elderly, children and mothers with prams.
There were no pedestrian crossings — even where the footpath switched sides outside the school — and she had seen traffic forced to stop while elderly people hobbled up the road on crutches.
"It's a real safety issue. We have a lot of people walking in town and at the same time we have cars speeding down the road to catch the ferry."
Late last year the Rāwene Area Residents Association (RARA) made a submission to the local community board calling on the Far North District Council to commit to building a footpath all the way to the hospital.
Post understood the council had developed a footpath plan for Rāwene but said locals were frustrated by what they saw as a lack of communication.
A council staff member had a walk-around last month but it wasn't the senior transport manager they'd been told would visit.
"We want the key decision-makers to meet us and look at the problems first hand. We want better communication, we want to work together to see some reasonable solutions for our community," she said.
"It's a key tourism and heritage town and we're on the Twin Coast Highway. The town's getting busier and we want to put our best foot forward for residents and the visitors that come here."
There is, however, hope on the horizon, with the council saying it is progressing plans to make sure pedestrians can walk safely from the town centre to the hospital — but they may have to wait until 2024.
Infrastructure and asset manager Andy Finch said initial footpath designs had been presented to the community board and Rāwene ratepayer representatives for feedback. More consultation would take place once the design phase started.
Funding for detailed design had been allocated in the council's Long Term Plan starting in 2023.
New stretches of footpath, as well as permanent raised pedestrian crossings and traffic calming measures, were funded for 2024.
Additional funding was being sought from various sources and, if successful, could see the project start sooner, Finch said.
The community board also had funding for new footpaths and would soon decide where that would be spent. Each of the Far North's three community boards received $150,000 a year for new footpaths.
"Until recently, this local share was combined with dedicated footpath funding from Waka Kotahi. Unfortunately, Waka Kotahi has not provided that funding this year, meaning all community boards will have to curtail new footpath construction," Finch said.
Funding for maintaining and renewing existing footpaths was budgeted separately.
Kaikohe-Hokianga Community Board representative Louis Toorenburg said the lack of a footpath wasn't a problem 30 years ago.
"But there's a huge amount of traffic coming through Rāwene these days. You're taking your life in your hands."
Manning St, which had many homes and a campground, was also in dire need of a footpath. It was narrow, with no shoulder for children to walk on.
Toorenburg said he was concerned at how much time and effort it took to get things done in Hokianga.
In recent years footpaths had been built in Ōpononi, Ōmāpere and Kohukohu but Rawene was still waiting.
The community board didn't spend last year's footpath allocation because it wasn't happy with the list of priority locations provided by Waka Kotahi, he said.
So far the council has installed a number of speed bumps on Parnell St in a bid to reduce driving speeds. Post hoped the temporary humps would be made permanent.
The Advocate has asked Waka Kotahi about council claims that footpath funding has been axed.