Christopher Luxon says Government should be focused on fixing NZ's roads rather than creating te reo Māori signs

Christopher Luxon says the Government's priorities are "all wrong" and should be focused on fixing New Zealand's roads rather than creating new traffic signs.

It comes after Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) released a package of proposed bilingual traffic signs for consultation this month. The new signs are proposed to be introduced when existing signs need to be replaced as part of a "low-cost implementation approach".

National has been unclear about its stance on the signs, with Māori MPs breaking away from party lines. They said bilingual road signs are to be welcomed, with one even sitting its transport spokesperson Simeon Brown down for an explainer on the matter. 

Brown said safety signs should be in English.

"The vast majority of New Zealanders speak English and it's really important that those signs are quickly understandable."

But National's Harete Hipango said Brown's view is "different to mine".

National Party leader Christopher Luxon was asked about road signs carrying te reo Māori on Wednesday and said he wants the Government focused on fixing potholes and the state of New Zealand's roads. 

He told AM there are 54,000 potholes in New Zealand, so Waka Kotahi would have to create a "hell of a lot" of bilingual signs. 

"So rather than generating signs and putting them up everywhere, I'd actually sooner us actually fix the potholes and that's what's so frustrating about this conversation," Luxon told co-host Ryan Bridge.

"That's where I want everybody showing up here in Wellington, the bureaucracy, doing that job rather than spending time on this.

"It just says to us, again, this Labour Government has its priorities completely, utterly wrong. 

"You need to be fixing the potholes, maintaining the roads and getting them safer. That's what it's got to be focussed on. 

"Instead, we're reducing speed limits and focused on signs."

When Bridge suggested it could be a different group of people designing the signs from those who are fixing the potholes, Luxon said he wants "100 percent of people" at NZTA and Ministry of Transport focused on fixing the country's roads. 

"People are waking up today trying to get to work. People are sitting on the Coromandel trying to work out how they get tourists into the place after three years of decline," Luxon said. 

When asked if he would defund the road designers if elected, Luxon wouldn't say.

"There are people that will have had sausage rolls and endless meetings and lots of discussions and endless consultation, wasting a lot of time, a lot of money, a lot of resources doing this rather than doing what they should be doing, which is waking up, coming to work here in Wellington, getting into those bureaucracies and focusing on delivering better outcomes for New Zealanders on our roads," he added. "That's what the message is here, the priorities are all wrong."

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins this week has accused National of "dog whistling" and said politicians shouldn't be using te reo Māori as "a wedge to divide between people".

"Te Reo Māori is one of the official languages of New Zealand, it's our indigenous language - I don't think we've got anything to fear by having te reo Māori on street signs."

Watch the full interview with Christopher Luxon in the video above.