Residents of Minginui and Te Whaiti are being forced to use a "dangerous" forestry road, as the main road into the villages remains closed.

A special-purpose road, which begins at State Highway 38, through to Ruatahuna has been closed as a result of storm damage caused by Cyclone Debbie last month.

That leaves the Ngai Whare communities of Minginui and Te Whaiti with no public road access. However, Timberlands has agreed to provide access to and from Murupara through its forestry roads.

Residents recently held a meeting to discuss their concerns about the forestry road.


"This road is dangerous, we were narrowly missed by a three-trailer logging truck with less than a foot to spare," John MacMillan said.

"My concern is who will be responsible when one of my friends or family are killed as it is wrong to put public on this road."

A spokesman for Whakatane District Council said the forestry road was not ideal as it took at least half an hour longer each way, and logging trucks were also using the roads, so all users needed to be aware of safety factors.

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"Log truck movements in the area are comparatively light at the moment, but will increase as time goes on," he said.

"We believe we will be able to re-establish at least limited public road access before this becomes a significant issue."

Ruatahuna Rd is open for local traffic only, but not to through traffic wanting to travel to Waikaremoana and Wairoa.

The spokesman said Te Whaiti Rd into Minginui remained closed to the public because of the scale of the damage sustained.


"In essence, it is not safe for public use in its current state and the limited access we have established is solely to allow contract crews to get in and work on repairing the road," he said.

"We aim to establish safe two-lane, unsealed access by the end of July; and hope to be able to provide at least some controlled local access through the road within the next month or so."

The Council appreciates that this situation is causing considerable inconvenience for local residents, but community safety is of paramount importance and Te Whaiti Rd represents a much greater safety hazard in its current state than using Timberlands' roads.

"We are having some surface and signage upgrades undertaken to improve this temporary access route and ask people to be patient and to exercise additional driver caution until Te Whaiti Rd can be reopened."

A Timberlands spokesperson referred questions to the Whakatane District Council.