The land transport system is essential to all New Zealanders. Our road and rail networks shape how people and goods move around, and how our communities connect.

Regulation of the land transport system is just as important. Whether you’re learning to drive or running a transport business, you and all other road users should be safe, and regulation helps ensure that.

We all want to see fewer deaths on our roads. Helping make sure the vehicles on our roads are safe, that the people driving them know how to drive safely, and that people and goods are transported safely, is our job as regulators.

In 2018, a man’s seatbelt failed when the car he was travelling in crashed. The car had just been given a Warrant of Fitness.

After this happened, the Waka Kotahi Board commissioned Kristy McDonald QC to do an independent review. Her 2019 report concluded that Waka Kotahi had failed to prioritise public safety, and that appropriate regulatory action wasn’t taken in a timely manner against the garage who’d issued the Warrant. She concluded that the failures she’d identified weren’t unique to this case, but were examples of wider systemic failures within the regulatory function of Waka Kotahi.

A Ministerial Review of our regulatory function, commissioned by the Minister of Transport and done by MartinJenkins, concluded that serious problems with our regulatory function had developed since the agency was established, resulting in regulatory failure. One of the problems identified was a lack of adequate funding.

Both reviews made a number of recommendations.

Starting to rebuild

We began addressing their recommendations and started the journey to rebuild a safe, fair, and sustainable land transport regulatory system. We’ve used loans from the government to:

  • tackle a backlog of 850 unsafe vehicle cases (the loans we used to do this are called the ‘rectification loans’)
  • address urgent gaps, eg employing 150 more front line staff to make sure our certifying and licensing systems are safe and thorough
  • strengthen governance and management to help with better decision-making, including appointing a Director of Land Transport, who, along with the Board, is a key point of accountability for the land transport regulatory system
  • develop a regulatory strategy: Tū ake, tū māia, which sets out our role, our purpose, goals, areas of focus, and ways we need to improve. This strategy sets the path we need to take to be the best regulator we can be, outlining key shifts that will bring a focus to good regulation so we can target our efforts in the areas we think can have the greatest impact.