"When I said I thought the Three Bridges thing was the thin edge of the wedge I had no idea how close I was to the truth," Kerikeri man Peter Heath said last week.

"I hadn't realised the petition was being enabled by the Labour-backed lobby group hell-bent on reducing the rural road speed limit to 80km/h."

Mr Heath was referring to road safety group Movement, which is calling for "safer speed limits" on rural roads to reduce the road toll.

"Whilst we agree that 100 km/h is typically appropriate for motorways and expressways, we must move to adopt safer speed limits for our rural open roads. Such roads are not built for high-speed travel, and are the main source of New Zealand's horrifying road toll," spokesman Bevan Woodward said.

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"The ultimate penalty for speeding is not a fine — it can be injury or worse. And more to the point, statistics show that pedestrians and cyclists, also road users, are suffering much higher rates of fatalities.

"Hence we fully support the police call for speed limits to be reduced to match the road conditions."

He cited the 80km/h zone on State Highway 1 through Dome Valley, north of Auckland, as demonstrating how a safer speed limit immediately resulted in significant saving of lives.

"There is clear evidence that reduced rural and urban speed limits significantly improve road safety, while having little impact on travel times. However, there is a reluctance to reduce speed limits, and (last) year's road toll is a stark reminder that leadership from our decision-makers is urgently required to save lives."

Northland MP Matt King flatly rejected any suggestion his party, or his support for the Kawakawa petition, were linked with any broader campaign to cut road speeds.