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Debate over road repair fund

South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] documents reveal that seven major weather events in the past year caused $7 million of damage to the district’s roading network, exhausting its emergency repair fund.

Road repairs and funding were under the microscope as SWDC considered submissions to this year’s annual plan and residents provided their views on how to refinance the empty coffers of Rural Road Reserve, which is currently funded by rural ratepayers.

SWDC sought feedback from residents but has since resolved to keep the current amount for the fund at $300,000 per year

The council has heard residents argue that the depleted emergency roading buffer should be funded by all ratepayers, not just those in rural areas.

Scott Summerfield, a rural resident, said the current funding model is unfair and lacks transparency.

“Rural roads are not available only to rural ratepayers. Rural roads are available equally to all, and so should be funded equally by all,” he said.

Summerfield described how traffic is often diverted along the road near where he lives outside Martinborough when the weather closes other routes, and how the roads to Cape Palliser, Martinborough, and [previously] Hinakura are heavily used by tourists and others, not rural dwellers.

“The small number of residents on the [rural] road do not make up a significant proportion of the users, and the community benefit of the road being well maintained and available is far higher than any limited benefit to rural residents living on the road,” he said.

“SWDC has made no information available as part of the annual plan consultation to support why the funding arrangement is the way it is. This lacks transparency for ratepayers to understand what they are paying for, and why they are carrying the funding burden for this on behalf of other users,” Summerfield said.

“I believe the set-up of the rural road reserve has been poorly considered, and I believe the council’s decision-making under both the Local Government Act and Local Government [Rating] Act is not defensible in this case.”

Meanwhile, Jenny Boyne, who lives at Tora, criticised SWDC roading management, suggesting the amount in the fund is irrelevant if council doesn’t repair roads in a timely fashion.

“We feel the council’s culture over the past few years is waiting until the roads have almost collapsed before you initiate repairs. A simple fix at the time would have cost very little,” she said.

“Please don’t blame the forestry trucks for the state of local roads. These trucks drive several kilometres on private roads, and they are not crumbling. They are built and maintained so they remain open and operational and, more importantly, safe. The same cannot be said for the management of our roads.”


  1. Rural roads are used by everyone to say only Rural rate payers use them is totally mad 😠 😡. Councilors can’t be that out of touch with roading users.

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