Pothole crisis: New figures reveal Kiwis not being compensated for pothole damage despite ongoing complaints

ACT says Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) is letting New Zealanders down after new figures revealed Kiwis aren't being compensated for damage to their vehicles caused by potholes despite ongoing complaints. 

New figures revealed by ACT on Tuesday to AM show 555 complaints have been made to NZTA regarding damage incurred by potholes this year, but only four have been upheld.

The number of complaints has increased over the last five years. In 2017 there were 320 complaints with no one compensated. In 2018 it decreased to 284 complaints with two payouts, while in 2019, there were 388 complaints with 10 payments. In 2020 there were 298 complaints, before rising again to 421 in 2021. 

ACT transport spokesperson Simon Court told AM on Tuesday on current trends there will be around 700 complaints by the end of the year. 

He said the figures "shocked" him, but they make sense.

"We've heard about these people stuck on the State Highway 2 on the Kaimai's, having to fix blown tyres in the middle of the night on a rainy night and terrified frankly," Court told AM co-host Ryan Bridge. 

"It's not our responsibility to dodge the potholes. It's the Minister of Transport, Michael Wood, and his agencies responsible to fix our roads."

Court said the Government have their priorities all wrong and should be focused on fixing New Zealand's roads rather than projects like Light Rail and a bike bridge over the Auckland Harbour. 

"This Government and the transport agency have their priorities all wrong," he said 

"A Government that involves ACT would make sure the agency is doing what they're supposed to, deliver safer roads, but also making sure that we can travel at a decent speed."

Court said ACT's plan to fix New Zealand's roads would be to set up private transport agencies that would be able to get funding from the private sector. 

"ACT believes we should actually get the politicians out of roading and making decisions around transport, we should leave it to the professionals," he told AM.

"We've got a policy that says we should set up regional transport agencies and they should have a 30-year infrastructure plan, that they can go and get funding from the private sector, institutional capital, if they want to build new roads, upgrade them, toll roads, for example. 

"That's how we'll get New Zealand moving again. We need more money, but it's not necessarily going to come from the taxpayer." 

ACT transport spokesperson Simon Court said on current trends there will be around 700 complaints by the end of the year.
ACT transport spokesperson Simon Court said on current trends there will be around 700 complaints by the end of the year. Photo credit: AM

Potholes have been in the headlines recently, with people across New Zealand slamming the sorry state of the country's roads.

"Our roads are in the worst condition that many people have ever seen," said Automobile Association road safety spokesperson Dylan Thomsen. 

"There is a range of factors playing a part in that but the biggest one is that there hasn't been enough investment going into road repairs and maintenance for many years."

Thomsen said analysis from 2020 estimated the Government needed to spend $900 million more over the next three years to catch up on the work needed. 

Transport Minister Michael Wood said the last National Government's lack of spending on road maintenance was partly to blame for the state of New Zealand's transport network. 

"We've completed significant [roads] like the Waikato Expressway which comes through to Cambridge," Wood told AM on Friday. "The reality across our land transport system is we have a lot of pressures in terms of the investments we got to make."

Watch the full interview with Simon Court above.