New Road Signs for Te Ranga School – NZ Herald Article
Te Ranga School has finally been given a fair go.
Last week signs went up on Te Matai Rd, either side of the school, advising motorists to drive at no more than 40km/h past the school.
It’s been a long haul to get signs put up.
”It took three years for the Apollo mission to get a man on the moon, and it’s taken Te Ranga 17 years to have the Western Bay council erect a sign for us – but we are very grateful,” says principal Brendan Wilson, who has been principal for five and a half of those years.
The school has long called for a lower speed limit on Te Matai Rd past the school, and in 2016 threatened to install its own signs if Western Bay of Plenty District Council failed to take on board the school’s concerns.
Last month, the council voted in favour of funding signs to remind motorists to slow down at peak school times and last week the signs were put up.
The long-running saga came to a head again recently after a school project led to the issue being highlighted on TVNZ’s Fair Go programme.
Pōhutukawa class teacher Bridie Holland set a task for her pupils before making persuasive speeches.
”They were preparing by writing persuasive letters,” says Brendan. ”They had to find an issue they were passionate about and look at how to go about writing
a letter that could make change.”
Letters about the speed of vehicles outside the school were sent to local MP Todd McClay, the district council and Fair Go about the speed outside the school. Fair Go visited the school to put an item together for the show – something Brendan says was ”probably one of the major instigators of change”.
”I don’t want to be cynical, but when things a
re exposed and when common sense is not prevailing it does move people and shift things, particularly when th
ere has been bureaucracy and red tape holding up common sense.”
Brendan says traffic on the road has increased since it became fully tar sealed right through to the Tauranga Direct road in 2014.
”It’s become a more viable link to Rotorua and for most people, particularly if they are going to the Ngongotahā side, coming from Pāpāmoa, Te Matai Rd has become the road of choice.”
The signs apply ”when children are present”.
”During the weekend when there’s no-one here, it makes sense not to have to slow down to that speed – we don’t want to impede motorists.”
While there has been frustration about the time tak
en, Brendan understands the reasons for that.
”We know there are instruments of government they have to abide by and there’s sub committees and all sorts of feedback they had to get, but once we were on TV, I real
ly appreciated that I had a number of councillors visiting and lobbying to support us, particularly in their busy campaigning season.”
He says it would seem sensible to have a blanket speed limit outside schools in the same way there is a speed limit for vehicles passing stationary school buses.
Western Bay of Plenty District Council’s acting group manager, infrastructure services, Blaise Williams says the council thanks Te Ranga School for the professional manner in w
hich the principal has helped achieve the outcome.
”These signs aim to heighten
awareness of the need for motorists to be more careful on Te Matai Rd as they approach the school.
”It is now up to motorists driving through the Te Ranga School zone to acknowledge the advance warnings and reduce their speed.”