A stoush is brewing over a dusty Kaipara road. Residents claim a product the Kaipara District Council used had fixed their dusty, pothole-riddled gravel road - but the council ripped it up less than a year after the $50,000-plus installation.
The innovative product and Waipū invention called Gravel Lock was used on a 650m unsealed section of Tangowahine Valley Rd, which is often used by logging trucks and other heavy forestry vehicles. The rigs were constantly damaging the road and creating a dust nuisance for residents.
Now they are frustrated with what's been left behind: "An extremely dusty, mess of a gravel road covered in hundreds of potholes. It's not safe enough to drive and the dust is once again affecting our health and mental wellbeing," say residents Tony and Alana Reid.
Tony Reid says the Gravel Lock product was amazing. "I'll promote it until the cows come home."
"It didn't just resolve the dust issue, it lessened the noise and it was also a precursor to laying tarseal, so council effectively destroyed something that could have saved them thousands."
However, the council (KDC) says it had no choice but to rip up the road because the product started to degrade in areas.
"The use of Gravel Lock was a trial, and a significant amount was spent trying to suppress the dust," a council spokesman said. "The Gravel Lock surface became damaged and would cost more to repair than to rip up and reintegrate with the original metal surface. So it was decided to remove it completely."
He said installing the product and strengthening the road cost $54,500 and removing the product came in at an extra $4600. Maintenance cost $7500.
But Reid claims he complained about a pothole that appeared in the Gravel Lock that "only needed a little bit of maintenance".
"Instead of maintaining it properly they dumped a pile of loose gravel in the hole. Logging trucks came tearing along and spread the pieces of gravel and degraded the surface even more. They didn't maintain it properly.
"It's a shame the public has to suffer because of council incompetence."
Gravel Lock NZ director Grant Lewis said "if you put a rock on top of it, it is going to grind it, because it's [Gravel Lock] not concrete".
"When we did an inspection, we supplied them with the product to repair it correctly for free. But the next time we went out there it was ripped up."
The council says although Gravel Lock offered the product free, they still had to pay $7500 to apply it, which wasn't feasible.
But Lewis says $7500 sounded excessive.
He says if the product is maintained correctly, it lasts a lot longer and requires far less maintenance than a normal gravel road.
Reid says he and many others living on the stretch of road would love to see the product reinstated.
And Lewis said the company was happy to work with the council again and could trial a new product he believed could last 10-20 years.
Lewis says Gravel Lock is used on autobahns in Germany, 28 runways in the Marshall Islands, Outback roads in Australia and underneath a wave park in Melbourne that gets pummelled by more than a million waves a year. The Far North District Council is also using the product on more than 50 roads a year.