NZTA head resigns amid review into dodgy warrants of fitness

The head of the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) has resigned as the review into dodgy vehicle warrants continues.

NZTA chief executive Fergus Gammie resigned amid an investigation into dodgy warrants of fitness (WoFs), with more than 21,000 cars suspected to be affected.

Several mechanics and vehicle inspectors have been suspended for poor work and examinations of vehicles' safety.

Mr Gammie said he hopes the review into improving the NZTA's regulator function will be completed successfully "without any distraction".

"I am proud of the work I have overseen during my tenure as CEO, particularly setting NZTA on a path towards being a modern multimodal transport agency," he said.

Road Transport Forum chief executive Nick Leggett said the NZTA faces a time of uncertainty.

"We recognise that the New Zealand Transport Agency is going through a significant challenge and period of change. That challenge also impacts our members," said Mr Leggett.

"We're looking to ensure that we balance what's most definitely required in terms of safety and regulation with the ability for road transport operators to continue to run and grow their businesses."

In November, a Northland mechanic lashed out at NZTA after his ability to issue WoFs was taken away when he failed to pick up on a frayed seat belt during a warrant check.

Rodney Wilson, who has run Dargaville Diesel Specialists (DDS) for more than 15 years, had the finger pointed at his business following the death of a man whose seat belt failed in a crash in January.

But he denies he's to blame and claims that most warrants are substandard.

"They may as well not be doing them, because everyone's doing them dodgy," said Mr Wilson.

 "At the time of the inspection, it was that long ago I couldn't remember, and I said, 'Well maybe I f**ked up' but it turns out I didn't. There's no way I would've passed it with that damage."

At the time, Mr Gammie told Newshub that certifiers needed to meet a certain standard and it had known about issues at DDS since 2011, but hadn't acted.

"Our approach was not to act immediately and we should have done that - that was not correct."

Mr Gammie listed reopening State Highway One between Picton and Christchurch after the Kaikoura earthquake and pushing forward new safety outcomes as some of his achievements.

He will step down on December 31, with a new chief executive expected to be announced in the New Year.

How to know if your car's been affected:

  • You'll get a letter and phone call if the NZTA has concerns about the WOF on your vehicle.
  • If the car's been sold since the WOF was issued, the new owner will be notified.
  • But if you've moved address or changed phone number in the last year, you need to update this with the NZTA.
  • If your car needs to be retested but you have a crash in the meantime, the Insurance Council says insurers will still take the WoF as valid in any insurance claim.
  • But they caution that if you don't get it checked again as soon as possible, you may put the safety of yourself and other drivers at risk.