Pawarenga resident Veronica Tamati and her whanau pay their rates on time, and in return expect a modicum of service from the Far North District Council.

This winter, Mrs Tamati says, they aren't getting a fair return.

"My family and I are disgusted at the state of Kohe Rd," she said. "The only metal to be dropped on our road for months has been one truckload by the forest road contractors, who got stuck in a sink hole. Every day the existing sink holes get deeper, and new ones are forming."

The council was taking action however. General manager infrastructure and asset management Andy Finch said work under way would include replacing two culverts, one an old terracotta-style pipe that was in poor condition, the other at a low point in the water table, causing the road surface to fail.

"Councils around the country face criticism for not improving roads before logging begins."

Council contractors would remove about 100 cubic metres of debris from a slip and reinstate the road width. They would also spread new metal where required.

"This work was assigned following a discussion with the owner of a forest block on Kohe Rd in mid-June," Mr Finch said. "The forest owner was concerned about a slip on the road, and the failure of a culvert on a tight bend. Routine maintenance has been undertaken on Kohe Rd over the past 12 months, in line with normal Council contracts."

After receiving photos from the Pawarenga Community Trust & Resource Centre, a council roading engineer had re-inspected the road last week, and was satisfied that the programmed work would remedy the problems.

Logging traffic on Kohe Rd had ceased for the time being, but would resume when the weather improved. Roading engineers would reassess the road before that work recommenced, to see what maintenance could be carried out within current budgets.

Mr Finch said problems caused by heavy traffic on local roads were not unique to the Far North.

"Councils around the country face criticism for not improving roads before logging begins, but unfortunately we are not always informed that harvesting, especially of small woodlots, is to start. This provides little opportunity to ensure that roads, like Kohe Rd, are adequately prepared to carry very heavy traffic.

"Rates are collected to cover normal road maintenance, not to fund the often considerable extra expense required to upgrade roads for logging traffic," he added.

"Over the past three years the government has provided funding for forestry road maintenance, but the funding criteria mean this is applied to the most heavily-used logging routes, and roads with smaller forestry lots, such as Kohe Rd, often miss out.


"New national environmental standards for plantation forestry that came into effect on May 1 make plantation harvesting a notifiable activity, and this will give councils a short period of notice before harvests commence. The FNDC will work with the Northland Transport Alliance to ensure this information is gathered from the Northland Regional Council as soon as possible.