State Highway 2's latest victim is in hospital recovering from a crash that happened less than three hours before a petition to fix the notorious road was presented to Parliament.

At 7.35am yesterday, Fix the Bloody Road campaigner Andrew Hollis was in Wellington preparing this thoughts before the 3350-signature petition - collected from locals worried about the number of serious and fatal crashes on the highway between Tauranga and Katikati - was presented.

At the same time on that very road, a car and a truck collided - eerily within sight of a collection of white crosses the campaigners had put up.

As Hollis made his way to Parliament, emergency services staff were rescuing a person trapped inside the crashed car.


By the time Bay of Plenty National MP Todd Muller, with Hollis and MP Scott Simpson, presented the petition to the Transport Select Committee - which Transport Minister Phil Twyford labelled a "political stunt" - the moderately-injured person had been freed from the wreck and taken to Tauranga Hospital.

For Hollis, it was a poignant reminder lives were at stake.

He said the timing of the crash added weight to the petition and was another example why the road needed to be fixed.

Emergency services at the scene of the crash on State Highway 2. Photo / Jean Bell
Emergency services at the scene of the crash on State Highway 2. Photo / Jean Bell

Muller gave up his speaking time in Parliament for Hollis, who addressed the select committee about the "dangerous" stretch of road.

"I reiterated how the community cringed every time the volunteer fire brigade sirens go off and that as I was speaking somebody was trapped inside a vehicle on that same road," he said.

Hollis was thankful to have been allocated Muller's speaking time in Parliament.

"It speaks volumes," he said. "We definitely made our point ... It is another link in a very long chain."

Twyford said the Government was striking the right balance in transport funding to create a modern, sustainable transport network and ensure all roads were safer.


"Nobody wants any more lives lost on this road and urgent safety improvements have already started," he said.

"These safety improvements include speed management, road marking, signs, and enforcement, followed by infrastructure measures."

Twyford said the New Zealand Transport Agency had reassessed the stretch of highway and would be able to create a four-lane road and make urgent safety improvements on a road "which has been neglected for a decade".

"Our Government is spending $600 million more on roads in the regions in this three-year period. This petition is simply a political stunt."

Eyewitness to yesterday's crash Annie Rose, a Te Puna resident, believes generally speaking it's the drivers, not the road, at fault.

Rose was taking her grandchildren to school when she heard a screeching sound and people shouting.

The grandmother had lived on the state highway for 14 years and heard an ambulance rushing by "maybe twice a day".

Rose said in her view the problem did not lie in the road layout or the speed limit, but instead with speeding and impatient drivers.

People rushing to get to work meant tailgating and other reckless driving was common down the stretch of road, she said.

"It's all about patience. Surely their lives are more important than bloody work."

Colleen Thwaites is another resident who has dealt with more than her fair share of serious crashes. Her son was killed on the road 32 years ago.

"He was two weeks off turning 20," she said.

She heard the sirens yesterday as emergency services responded to the scene near where she lived.

"It is an ongoing thing here every day. I have lived here for 44 years and we used to hear a siren once a month if we were lucky and now we hear it four times a day.

"I hear the screech and then wait for the crash. Even my dog does it now."

Thwaites said there had been three fatal accidents outside her home in four decades.

Attacking the issue from another angle was fellow campaigner Matthew Farrell, whose petition, signed by 2500 people supporting the blocking of future housing development in the Western Bay, was submitted to SmartGrowth on November 5.

Farrell said the petition called for councils to fix the road and infrastructure before more houses were built.

"The crosses are there for a reason. That particular section of the road between the Te Puke stream bridge and Loop Rd and the Apata bends are the two deadliest stretches of state highway in the country."

Western Bay of Plenty Mayor Gary Webber was scheduled to fly to Wellington for the presentation of the petition but his flight was cancelled. The latest crash proved why the petition was needed, he said.

"People continue to be injured and, in the worst case, killed on the road. We hope central government decides to do something sooner rather than later.

"That stretch of road from Ōmokoroa to Tauranga is becoming a nightmare."

Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller spoke to the Bay of Plenty Times from Parliament as the petition was presented in Wellington.

Muller said allocating his speaking time to Hollis allowed someone close to the struggle of the residents to speak on the issues.

"He could give voice to the immense anger and frustration of the community."

Muller said he was contacted by furious members of the community after the crash.

"The level of anger is palpable."

Additional reporting - Jean Bell

Crash statistics from 2012-16 on Tauranga to Katikati highway
• 18 people died
• 35 serious crashes
• 95 minor crashes