Comment: Quality of road surfacing must improve

By: Meryn Morrison, WiRT chairperson

WiRT chairperson Meryn Morrison touches on how the quality of road surfacing in NZ must improve

Has anyone recently noticed while out on the road the prevalence of new seal being laid?
While I am all for road maintenance and in no way wish to dissuade NZTA and local authorities from carrying it out, it’s frustrating that in many cases it’s not done to a standard that is fit for purpose.


I know that a lot of the country has had a long hot summer with at times record high temperatures, and obviously, this has a serious impact on road surfaces.

However, I don’t understand why the authorities insist on just applying a thin over-seal while keeping the existing patches, lumps, bumps, undulations, and rutting on the road surface. I understand that in many circumstances they are trying to reduce the impact of roadworks on traffic flow.

However, all these temporary fixes seem to achieve is to make the road uncomfortable to drive and accelerate the need for further maintenance in the future. Most drivers and operators I talk to don’t mind dealing with roadworks if they know that the repairs will last.

However, there’s nothing more frustrating than dealing with a route that’s continuously in a state of repair. It also irks me that on a lot of routes, chips are just left to build up as they come loose from the road surface.

I do not think it’s too much to ask that every now and again, those loose chips are swept away from the road instead of being left to contribute to the already hazardous road conditions and as ammunition to be flicked up and make cracks in our expensive windscreens.

I also note that NZTA has recently announced that it will be spending $25 million repairing the water damage to the brand-new Kapiti Expressway. This follows pretty close on the heels of repair works they have had to do on the new Waikato Expressway.

What is so concerning about the Kapiti and Waikato situations is how similar the problems seem to be. In both cases, the road surface has been compromised because of moisture coming up through the ground and penetrating the various layers of metal and tar.

This softens the road surface and causes ruts, and in some areas, the road surface to break up.It doesn’t take an expert to work out that somewhere between NZTA, the geotechnical experts, and the roading contractors, there’s a serious disconnect going on.

For such high-use highways to be experiencing such basic issues is unacceptable, especially with money so tight since the Government’s decision to reduce the highways budget in favour of projects such as Auckland’s light rail.

Finally, I want to make readers aware of a great opportunity for women looking to get into the industry. Last year, Fuso NZ teamed up with TR Group to fund two class 2 licensing scholarships for women and young people who are looking to start a career in transport.

The scholarships, which are worth more than $1100, will be awarded through the Women in Road Transport network to those facing barriers preventing them from getting into the industry such as financial difficulties or lack of employer investment.

This is available anywhere in New Zealand so if you know somebody who may be interested or your business needs somebody trained, then please contact us at

Finally, let me express to the people of Christchurch and the victims of 15 March’s horrible events that you’re in the thoughts of everyone involved with WiRT.  

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