State highway pothole complaints not as high as reported


Waka Kotahi/New Zealand Transport Agency is correcting the record on the number of pothole complaints it has received in 2022.

There have been reports suggesting Waka Kotahi received over 500 complaints about potholes in 2022.

Deborah Hume, Acting General Manager Transport Services, says a check of Waka Kotahi records and information provided to agencies and individuals shows the figure being quoted needs to be corrected.

“Our records show that for 2022 complaints about potholes and road surfaces were very similar to what they were in 2021. We had 348 complaints in 2021 and 351 last year.”

“The 555 figure being quoted actually relates to compensation claims made for damage across a wide number of categories. This includes chip damage to vehicles, private property damage, pothole-related damage, and various other claims. We accept the number of these complaints have increased. However, it is wrong to describe all of them as pothole complaints.”

Complaints that claim road condition has caused damage to a vehicle are assessed on a case-by-case basis. Waka Kotahi and our contractors investigate to see if there are any exceptional circumstances, we should be aware of, which may trigger further actions by Waka Kotahi or our contractor.

Deborah Hume says it is unfortunate the figures ended up being referenced incorrectly.

“We have moved to correct the record as quickly as we can as it is important the hard work of our contractors and road crews is accurately recognised. 2022 was a very challenging year for them. High rainfall and a number of extreme weather events meant the country’s state highways became much more prone to damage. Our people have worked long and hard to keep highways open and have repaired damage as quickly as possible.”

This work is continuing with the summer maintenance programme. This season we are working on completing 2,450 km of road surface renewals – around 10 percent of the entire state highway network.

Waka Kotahi is also spending more on state highway maintenance. Our investment through the 2021-24 National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) has increased to $2.8 billion. This includes an estimated $300 million for emergency works. This is a 30 percent increase on the previous three years (2018-21).

A full breakdown of pothole and general road condition complaints is outlined in the tables below. They include up-to-date numbers for 2022.

Compensation 'claims' by year 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Total 320 284 388 298 421 796
Number of complaints about 'pavement and surfacing or potholes' 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Total 586 842 701 455 348 351
  2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Number of complaints about 'potholes' 270 460 502 302 206 207
Number of complaints about 'road condition' 316 382 199 153 142 144

Source: Waka Kotahi – Insights, Research, and Analytics.

Waka Kotahi also encourages the public to report any problems they find on the state highway network.