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National Party Leader Christopher Luxon arrives at the Thames Civic Centre with MPs Simeon Brown, left, and Scott Simpson. PHOTO: KELLEY TANTAU

Luxon: ‘Big target’ needed for SH25A

Those who wore blue to the public meeting with National Leader Christopher Luxon and Coromandel MP Scott Simpson didn’t go unnoticed by the party members, but one man purposely wore black to protest the lack of action on the Kōpū-Hikuai Rd.
Co-chairman of the Primary Land Users Group Andy Loader told the attendees of the April 13 meeting that he purposely wore dark attire, after receiving little support from the government about establishing a temporary bypass of the major slip on State Highway 25A.
“I put out an open letter to the government about State Highway 25A and a temporary accessway. They sent me an email reply to say: ‘We’ve received it, it’s in front of the minister, but please be aware it’ll be a minimum of two months before you’ll see a reply’.”
Heman Ahlowalia, owner of impacted Tairua business The Pepe Cafe, called the delay “disrespectful”.
The men were two of many who raised concerns about the main thoroughfare that has been shut since February, with Heman asking why other countries could launch satellites through space while New Zealand “experts” couldn’t fix a road.
“We’ve heard that contractors up here could’ve pushed that bloody road through in a number of weeks,” another said. “I don’t know why it’s not been done under a state of emergency.”
Mr Luxon, who was joined in Thames by Pakuranga MP and National spokesperson for transport Simeon Brown, said he would set a “big goal” – such as opening the Kōpū-Hikuai Rd by Christmas.
“It might feel big, hairy, audacious, and scary, but we’ve got to set a target. What worked incredibly well was Kaikoura… It was a classic case of having a date and a budget. It had dedicated leadership… and they were empowered to get the job done. It feels like the target we need to set here.”
In the Primary Land Users Group’s open letter – which was also addressed to Thames-Coromandel Mayor Len Salt, Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency, and others – Mr Loader wrote that the “lack of critical access and uncertainty when a resolution will be forthcoming is having a huge negative impact physically and mentally on all of whom are dependent on road access”.
He said he had been contacted by contractors saying a single-lane bypass with a loose metal surface could be built quickly to prevent “the huge bypass route through Waihī”.
At the meeting, that statement was reiterated by former Thames-Coromandel Mayor and National MP Sandra Goudie.
“We’re going to hold the government to account on actually delivering and getting things done,” Mr Luxon told the crowd in his closing statement. “And I’m rather skeptical in their ability to get things done.”