Our vision

We all deserve a transport system that puts people at the centre – that protects and helps us to get to the places and people important to us, so we can live life to the full.

When our streets are calm and everyone travels at speeds that are appropriate for the road environment, we create inclusive, healthy and people-friendly towns and cities where we can all move around freely, no matter how we choose to travel.

We want our tamariki and future generations to have independence and freedom to thrive. We can do this by designing a transport system that allows young people to get around on their own whether walking, cycling, travelling by scooter or by bus.

In Gisborne, this could mean parents and caregivers are comfortable allowing their children to walk or bike to kura, and tourists can confidently travel through our region to explore its beaches and rural beauty.  

This is our vision for Tairāwhiti, and an important part of Road to Zero, Aotearoa New Zealand’s road safety strategy.

Road to Zero, Aotearoa New Zealand’s road safety strategy

Our journey to a safe system

The safe system is the international gold standard in road safety management and is the approach that underpins Road to Zero.

To design transport systems with people at the centre, we need to address every part. We need speeds that suit the road and how we use it, vehicles and roads that are designed to protect people, and drivers with the right behaviours. We work alongside our partners to implement key interventions that strengthen each part of the system.

Over the last few years, we’ve completed the following safety improvements in Tairāwhiti:

  • Safe speed limits for the township and beach sections of SH35 between Gisborne and Te Puia Springs were implemented.
  • We’ve repaired and strengthened resilience in ‘hot spots’ along SH35 for a more reliable and robust highway that can better withstand the impact of natural events.
  • New slow vehicle bays, extensions to existing slow vehicle bays, and mobile phone laybys have been implemented on SH35/SH2.
  • New signs have been put up outside marae on SH35 and SH2 to help create a safer road environment for iwi, hapū and whānau.
  • The single lane SH2 Motu Bridge has been replaced with a new two-lane structure. The new bridge improves the safety and reliability of SH2 north of Gisborne and makes journeys more efficient for freight.
  • The Gladstone Road Bridge was widened to create a three-metre-wide shared path, improving the safety of people walking and cycling through one of Gisborne’s busiest thoroughfares.
  • Safety improvements including line-marking, rumble strips, new guardrails and seal-widenings have been implemented at high-risk sites on SH2 and SH35.

We also have the following safety improvements under implementation or planned:

  • Over the next 12 months we will deliver a number of road safety improvement projects alongside the emergency repair works on SH35 and SH2 following numerous weather events experienced in 2022.
  • Improvements on ‘hot spots’ along SH35 will be continued, with nine remaining high-risk sites to complete by mid 2023.
  • Projects to create and improve passing opportunities on SH35/SH2 will be continued to allow safer overtaking.

To ensure our state highways remain safe and efficient, 80.7 lane kilometres of road renewals were completed in the Gisborne region from mid 2021 to mid 2022, and 102.1 lane kilometres are planned as part of the 2022/23 road maintenance programme.

Why are we changing speed limits? 

Changing speed limits comes down to what we all value most: protecting the lives of all of us who use our streets and roads. 

Speed limits were first set before we knew what was safe and appropriate for our roads. We know this harms people we care about and have a responsibility for. 

Appropriate speeds will make Tairāwhiti more inclusive, good for our health and the environment by making it easier and more comfortable for people to walk, ride bikes and use scooters, wheelchairs and other mobility aids to get around. It also gives our tamariki the opportunity for safe, active travel to school on their own, with friends or their caregivers. 

It’s our responsibility to do better. 

We’re taking practical steps to ensure we’re protecting the people and communities we care about - and we welcome you to be part of that journey. 

A new approach to managing speeds

Safe speeds around schools

We’re empowering our younger generations to thrive and have the freedom to walk, bus or bike to school by setting new speed limits.

We’re working together with local government on a target of all schools across Aotearoa, including kura kaupapa Māori and Kura ā Iwi, with safe and appropriate speed limits by the end of 2027. That’s approximately 2,500 schools in total, so our future generations can get around safely in ways that are good for their health and the environment.

There are several ways to achieve safe speeds around schools. Some roads may get permanent speed limits and others such as the state highway may use variable speed limits. Our approach considers the surrounding area of a school, to look after tamariki travelling further than the streets outside the front gate.

We aim to deliver safe speed limits to between 80 to 120 schools by mid 2024. The remaining schools will be delivered in our next National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) period (2024–27) because these roading environments are complex and will require longer conversations.

How school zone speed signs work

What we know about Tairāwhiti

The different ways our state highways in Tairāwhiti are being used

Roads and streets in Tairāwhiti are used for everything from commuting, to moving freight and for tourism.


  • SH2 is the key connection for Gisborne and the surrounding Tairāwhiti region to the Bay of Plenty, Waikato, and Auckland, for healthcare, tourism, vital fuel and food supplies as well as exporting local products. Gisborne’s relative isolation means businesses and communities rely on having access to safe, reliable transport to get their goods to domestic and international markets and to access basic services.
  • Freight using this road is either generally bound for the Port of Tauranga, carrying timber to the Gisborne Port or fresh produce to and from Auckland. Inter-regional freight includes agricultural producers of horticulture, dairy, grazing and sheep farming.
  • These routes are also popular for recreational use, connecting Tauranga to the East Coast and Gisborne. This includes people towing boats and caravans to and from their holiday and weekend breaks, or popular events such as Rhythm and Vines and other music festivals. Some areas increase in population during the summer, causing pressure on the state highways.


  • The Ōpōtiki to Gisborne corridor, SH35, is the only road that goes around the East Cape. It has been severely damaged following weather events this year.
  • It serves most of the regional rural population as the only road linking local east coast communities. It is essential to those living on it to access community services like healthcare, education and food, as well as for exporting local products like fruit, honey and timber.
  • Along the route are tourist attractions, including the East Cape lighthouse and recreational activities the coastal communities have on offer.

Findings from our analysis

As part of our analysis to determine the appropriate speed for a road, we consider the characteristics and nature of the road and its surrounding environment, how people are using the road, and collective safety risk.

The findings from our analysis around schools on SH2 and SH35 showed these roads are used for commuting, moving freight and tourism, and there are also a variety of road users. Lower speeds mean people driving, walking and cycling, including tamariki going to and from school will be safer and more comfortable. 

What we’ve heard so far

We’ve had ongoing conversations with a range of partners, organisations and groups that have an interest or would be impacted by our plans to manage speed on our state highways.

Key themes we’ve heard from these conversations:

  • During school drop-off or pick-up times, tamariki need safe connections, access or crossing points to get to school. Safe speeds around school are supported especially for rural schools.
  • Some areas around schools and marae feel unsafe as speeds are too high.

We’ve considered feedback from these conversations alongside our analysis as factors to develop our draft Interim State Highway Speed Management Plan.

Draft Interim State Highway Speed Management Plan [PDF, 25 MB]

Proposed speed limits in Tairāwhiti

Following our analysis and conversations with partners, interested groups and organisations, we propose the following new speed limits:

Speed limit map

Map showing locations of proposed speed limit changes in Gisborne

View larger map and speed limit tables [PDF, 768 KB]

Speed limit tables 

  • Speed limits around schools
    State highway School Existing speed limit (km/h) Proposed new speed limit (km/h)
    2 Ormond School 70 70/≤60*
    35 Pōtaka School 100 100/30*
    35 Te Kura o Hiruhārama 100 100/≤60*
    35 Hatea-a-Rangi School 50 50/30*
    35 Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Mangatuna 100 100/≤60*
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  • Other speed limits
    State highway Reference number (refer to map) Location Description Existing speed limit (km/h) Proposed new speed limit (km/h)
    2 1 Ormond urban Through township, to align with speed limit at Ormond School 100 70
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We’ll work directly with communities when we begin the implementation phase to finalise speed limit sign locations.

These new speed limits will help us take steps towards a safe system in Tairāwhiti by:

  • ensuring state highways with a school entry point have speeds reduced to care for children travelling to and from school
  • reducing the risk of a crash because people will have more time to react to mistakes and avoid collisions
  • helping protect people if a crash does occur, as slower speeds result in lower crash forces
  • ensuring state highways have appropriate speeds past marae, including at times when cars are entering or exiting the marae, or people may be walking alongside the road from a marae to an urupā.

Frequently asked questions

Have your say

Consultation on the Interim State Highway Speed Management Plan closed on 12 December 2022.

When the Plan has been certified by the Director of Land Transport, we’ll provide an update. We anticipate this taking place in mid-2023.

We are striving to work with all of our communities. If you would like to receive this information translated into te reo Māori, please email us: speedmanagement@nzta.govt.nz

Kei te kaha mātou ki te mahi me ō mātou hapori katoa. Ki te hiahia koe i ēnei mōhiohio i whakamāoritia ki te reo Māori, whakapā mai i konei: speedmanagement@nzta.govt.nz