Tauranga road resealing a “massive downgrade”

Colin Lawrence with a tiny portion of the stones that are tracked into his home and driveway daily. Photo: Bob Tulloch/SunLive.

“It's just rubbish, absolute rubbish.”

Colin Lawrence is describing the road resealing that has been done in the Tauranga subdivision he lives in.

Lawrence and his neighbours are angry that the asphalt that once lined their streets in Springfield subdivision, Hairini has been covered with low cost chip seal.

Loose chips and bitumen are being tracked into homes and one man had a window broken after a stone hit it during lawn mowing.

The road was resealed around a month ago and was swept of excess stones several times.

Roads are typically swept two to three times but Lawrence says it was swept more than that after their complaints to Tauranga City Council.

On Diamond Head where Lawrence lives, the bitumen is wearing in places and loose stones were scattered on the footpath, driveway and gutters.

It is not only the chip seal the residents are upset with but the quality of the workmanship.  

 “It looks like a dog’s breakfast,” says Lawrence.

Neighbour Don Barclay agrees.

“The job that's been done is a disgusting job,” says Barclay.

“I’ve spent half my life building motorways in Auckland and maintaining the roads from Auckland to Whangārei and the quality of the job is disgusting.”

What Lawrence finds ironic is the asphalt has been left untouched at the end of his cul-de-sac.

“By their [the council’s] own admission, chip seal adheres so poorly that if you put it in a cul-de-sac, it’ll just scrub straight off when people turn,” he says.

“Which speaks to their own knowledge about the quality of the product they're using.”

Tauranga City Council director of transport Brendan Bisley says asphalt has been retained in the cul-de-sac as tight-turning movement makes it hard for chip seal to remain stuck.

Norm Empson had his window broken by the loose stones. Photo: Bob Tulloch/SunLive.

Lawrence is also frustrated by the lack of communication from council.

“We got notice from the contractors 24, maybe 48 hours before work commenced that resurfacing was going to take place,” he says.

“But of course, there was no mention in there that this nice road surface you currently enjoy is going to disappear and we're going to cover it in this crappy stone chip.

“There’s no mention of the massive downgrade that you get and council are just completely intransigent about it.”

Local Democracy Reporting asked the council why the residents weren’t told about the type of resurfacing to expect when they were notified of the work.

The council did not respond directly to the question.

Bisley says asphalt is only used on high volume streets that see 10,000 vehicles per day as the traffic volume requires a hardwearing surface and chip seal would not be able to provide this.

“Council policy is to resurface residential streets with chip seal as this provides the waterproofing required and a chip seal will last 12-15 years in most residential streets before it needs renewal,” says Bisley.

He says this policy has been in place since 2011.

It is something Tauranga residents were only becoming aware of as the asphalt in their streets reached 20 to 25 years old, when resurfacing is needed.

“With the rapid growth of housing in Tauranga there are a number of areas in the city that were developed in the 90’s that are coming up for renewal,” says Bisley.

“When subdivisions are built, developers typically use asphalt as it is harder wearing when houses are being built and is able to cope with the turning movements of the trucks delivering building materials.

“It is also a marketing feature to make subdivisions more attractive for purchasers.”

Colin Lawrence and other Springfield residents are angry with the “poor quality” resealing on their streets. Photo: Bob Tulloch/SunLive.

Springfield locals aren’t the only ones annoyed by the council’s choice of chip seal.

A petition was signed by 66 Bethlehem residents living in Pembroke Drive, Allington Street and Saltwood Street calling for the reinstatement of asphalt on their roads.

Petition organiser John Laing says it is not only the loose stones and bitumen causing problems but the noise from cars driving on it.

“The actual noise that comes off these stones is terribly annoying,” says Laing.

“The cars or trucks going through roar and rattle.”

The resealing was done in mid-2021 and Laing presented the petition at a council meeting in August.

During the meeting commission chair Anne Tolley suggested the possibility of a targeted rate for residents to help fund the asphalt.

Seven months on and the chip seal remains and Laing says “council haven’t done anything all”.

Cost is a priority for resealing with Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency funding contingent on using the most cost effective option.

 “Council receives a 51 per cent subsidy on roading works from the Government via Waka Kotahi, and as part of this process needs to consider what is the most cost effective treatment,” says Bisley.

He says in residential streets this is chip seal.

“If asphalt was used on residential streets, council would need to fund 100 per cent of that cost and it could be up to 5-10 times more expensive than a chip seal.”

Local Democracy Reporting asked the council for the cost of chip seal per m2 and the cost of asphalt per m2, but it did not provide the answer.

Lawrence says with a proposed rates rise of 13.7 per cent the resealing is “appalling”.

“The roads haven't cost council a bean in maintenance for 25 years,” he says.

“The first time they were asked to put their hand in their pocket, we have to have the cheapest option.

“As a resident and a rate payer enjoying rate increases, that you can be downgraded by your council by a policy sticks in my craw.”

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.

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Posted on 23-04-2022 07:03 | By Thats Nice

What on earth does skin colour and age have to do with the roading issues in this article? Absolutely disgraceful statement as just plain and simple racism.


Posted on 22-04-2022 20:25 | By laugeo

Given that the article clearly says where the people concerned live, why not pop around and share your views face to face instead of making ignorant statements on this comments page? I know Colin well, he’d love to chat.


Posted on 22-04-2022 14:46 | By WestieMum

As quoted: "asphalt is only used on high volume streets that see 10,000 vehicles per day". OK, so just recently a part of busy Welcome Bay Road was resealed with asphalt (like for like), and to Joe Public it looked fine as it was. Thought: should it not be based on the condition of the road, not the age, before deciding whether it needs resealing? A couple of years ago the section of this same road between Waitaha and James Cook was asphalt but got resealed in chip seal. This is a high volume road and the surface from day one was, and still is, terrible with worn/patchy areas that appeared soon after completion, and they never addressed the humps and bumps. So it appears their "policy" is a bunch of lies and used when it suits.

@ AJSommerville

Posted on 22-04-2022 10:23 | By Yadick

A group of old, white whingers . . . Firstly race has nothing whatsoever to do with this so go play your racial card elsewhere. It is unwarranted in this case. Secondly these are the residents of the street. Read others comments and you’ll find they care too. It is a good thing that people care about their streets. We want our city of Tauranga to be nice and of a high standard. Downgrading our roads is not a good thing for anyone.

The picture speaks 1000 words

Posted on 22-04-2022 07:38 | By AJSommerville

A group of old, white whingers. I am sure a lot of people would love for that to be their biggest concern in life

Where do our rates go?

Posted on 21-04-2022 21:50 | By laugeo

There are 100 plus houses on the subdivision of Springfield. The road surface was original and as such was 25 years old but still in very good order throughout prior to ’resurfacing’ recently. If Tauranga City Council had the foresight to replace like with like, another 25 years would pass at least without the need for further resurfacing and in that time, even without allowing for ANY further rate rises, this subdivision alone would put another $10 million into council coffers via rates. Given that council have also spent nothing on these roads in the previous 25 years during which time it has also collected what must be at least $6 million? How much should residents have to pay before they can expect their residential streets to at least be maintained to a similar standard? TCC DO NOT CARE ABOUT TAURANGA. - PROOF!

Flawed policy

Posted on 21-04-2022 21:41 | By laugeo

This ’policy’ of cheap as possible may well have been in place since 2011 but it still flawed and it is still wrong! Downgrading every residential street not only provides a completely poor road surface that is noisy, messy, completely impractical and unsightly, it is downgrading our entire city, one subdivision at a time! I thought Tauranga was a city destined for improvement not downgrades? Expensive rates and 3rd world streets - that is the ’new’ Tauranga. Well done TCC, well done!

Council Lies

Posted on 21-04-2022 20:54 | By First Responder

More council BS. They do what they want. Same on Holister Lane, what was a nice asphalt street, and they put chip over it, yet Oropi Rd, they are currently redoing with asphalt. What’s the difference. I bet they keep their own streets where they live nice. Bunch of Muppets.


Posted on 21-04-2022 19:21 | By Pooch

Blake boulevard in Papamoa is no better. Had asphalt kids could skateboard and rollerblade on it now it is just as mess. Tar and stones everywhere. Good job council. NOT.

@ Kancho

Posted on 21-04-2022 19:19 | By Yadick

I totally agree with you. Great comment. For some reason only known to Council they’ve put pedestrian lights on Fraser Street just down from Chadwick Road. What a waste. Pedestrian lights at Pyes Pa shops make a LOT more sense. My apologies Kancho but I’m one of the ones that still do 60kph purely from habit. I do however think of your continual comments on idiots speeding along Pyes Pa Rd and I knock it back to 50kph so please keep the comments coming because your message is getting through. THANK YOU.

Four years

Posted on 21-04-2022 16:30 | By Kancho

The road outside Pyes Pa shops entrance has had paint marked up several times until they get worn away and disappear again . What we really need is a safe crossing to the Pyes Pa shops to connect with the pedestrian entrance as in spite of speed reduction few take any notice as everyone has figured out that traffic police are very thin on the ground. Lots of pedestrians get caught in the middle of the road going to the supermarket via the pedestrian ramp entrance and now it’s getting dark early. A speed camera on Pyes Pa round would make a fortune especially the straight part of Pyes Pa near Inverness Dr

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