From its location in central New Zealand, Palmerston North and the wider Manawatū-Whanganui region is positioned to become a leading freight distribution hub – supporting economic development in the region.

To achieve this goal, while enhancing the lifestyle the region is known for, Palmerston North’s transport network needs changing and upgrading.

The Palmerston North Integrated Transport Initiative (PNITI) is a package of projects designed to support growth of freight distribution in the region while also improving transport safety and choice for residents and visitors of Palmerston North. It aims to support economic development, reduce the number of freight vehicles on inner city streets, encourage active modes of transport (like walking, biking or catching the bus), reduce congestion and journey times, and reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads.


Consultation with partners and key stakeholders occurred during the development of the PNITI business case between 2018 - 2020. An options report was produced in January 2021, presenting a recommended programme of work, and the programme was later endorsed by the Waka Kotahi Board and Palmerston North City Council.   

The programme of work is broad, and further investigations and engagement with stakeholders and the community will take place separately in the future for PNITI’s individual projects, including the outer ring route project. There are still many significant decisions still to be made, and projects are also subject to funding.

PNITI is being progressed jointly by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, Palmerston North City Council, Manawatū District Council and Horizons Regional Council.

Next steps

Waka Kotahi, Palmerston North City Council, Horizons Regional Council and Manawatū District Council are working together to keep the PNITI programme moving.  

Some individual projects are underway or even complete, while others have not started yet. A number of projects are expected to be completed within the next five years, whereas others are scheduled for the medium term (10-15 years) or long term (15-30 years).

Some of the short-term projects are smaller scale initiatives which already have funding. Others have been chosen due to the high safety risk, the need to coordinate with the KiwiRail freight hub development, and the benefits they’ll bring ahead of the major projects starting construction.

Following the completion of short-term projects, and once the timeline for the establishment of the KiwiRail freight hub is known, medium-term projects can be progressed.

An example of a longer-term project is the completion of an outer ring route to improve freight movement efficiency and remove freight traffic from inner-city roads. These works will be progressed after a detailed business case considering the long-term maintenance and operational requirements of SH56 and SH57 and the success of other measures to ensure people can easily access the city centre (such as speed management and changes to the urban road network). 

Many of the projects in the PNITI programme are still subject to securing funding. For projects led by council, these will be placed in the council’s Long Term Plan with proposed timings and budgets. Projects requiring funding or co-funding from Waka Kotahi will be funded as part of the National Land Transport Plan (NLTP).

We’ll keep stakeholders and communities updated as the PNITI programme progresses, and new projects begin.