The speed limit on more than 30 rural roads in the Far North is set to drop by 40km/h, and in a few cases by 60km/h, as part of the Government's nationwide Road to Zero road safety strategy.
In general the new limits are 80km/h for sealed rural roads and 60km/h for unsealed roads, down from 100km/h, and lower on narrow or windy roads and around schools.
The NZTA is carrying out its own review of state highways, and the standard urban limit will remain at 50km/h.
The council is focusing on one area at a time, starting with just under 70 roads in the Ōkaihau-Kāeo-Waimate area, including Wiroa Rd, where the limit will drop to 60km/h in the increasingly built-up stretch between SH10 and Kerikeri airport, and 80km/h thereafter, down from 80km/h and 100km/h. Waimate North Rd will drop from 100km/h to a mix of 60km/h and 80km/h, while Te Ahu Ahu Rd will reduce from 100km/h to 80km/h.
The plan drew 175 submissions when it went to consultation in October.
Keith Hawkins, who called for a lower limit on Waimate North Rd, said several sections were uncomfortable even at 80km/h, and welcomed the decision to set a split 80/60km/h limit, while Oromahoe Marae kaumātua Wiremu Tane wants an even greater reduction on no-exit Porotu Rd, off SH10, where the limit will drop to 60km/h.
He welcomed news that the road was to be sealed, but that could bring its own problems.
"We have hoons speeding up and down our road at times. If we have people speeding now, with the corrugations and dust, imagine what they'll do with seal," he said.
His chief concern was for the safety of children who walked along the road to Oromahoe School, as they had done for generations, and he wanted a 50km/h limit, reduced to 30km/h outside the marae.
It is not yet clear when the new limits will come into force. Contractors need to be engaged to install new signs, and Covid-19 restrictions may add delays. The cost of replacing speed limit signs is estimated at $190,000 to $300,000.
According to a council report, several submitters said the new limits would work only if they were properly enforced.
Next for review are Kaitaia-Awaroa and Kohukohu-Broadwood, followed by Kerikeri-Waipapa.