Danielle Gaudin is disappointed her compensation claim has been declined after a cluster of potholes on SH10 near Kerikeri caused her car to become unroadworthy.
A Northland couple has been left without a car after their compensation claim was declined by government roading officials despite the car damage being caused by potholes.
The car of Whangārei parents Danielle Gaudin and Devlin Maras was so badly damaged when Danielle drove into a cluster of potholes on SH10 near Kerikeri that it’s no longer roadworthy.
They sought compensation from roading contractor Fulton Hogan to pay for the damage, which was quoted at $2226 and which includes fixing the suspension arms, ball joints, steering rack, and front wheel rims.
Gaudin said she heard from National’s Northland candidate Grant McCallum, who was trying to help the young couple, a few weeks ago that their application had been declined.
She was “disappointed” at the decision and the way they heard about it, she said.
She and Maras were treated with “a lack of professionalism”, she claimed.
“We haven’t heard anything official.
“There was no confirmation email that they had received our claim. We tried to ring and get information… we’ve heard nothing.
“So, it’s beyond disheartening really.”
Gaudin was heading north along Bulls Rd on May 5 around 7.30am when she hit the potholes, damaging the car’s undercarriage and causing one of the airbags to deploy.
At the time, her then 3-month-old son was in the car with her, and it was raining heavily.
The couple, who are beneficiaries, had just spent $1500 on the car to get it warranted and registered.
Gaudin said the incident has left them without a vehicle for nearly three months as they can’t afford to get it fixed.
Her mother-in-law has offered them the use of her car, but she needs to use it too.
“We’ve had to postpone appointments because we haven’t had a way to get there or had to walk because we had no other choice.
“With a young one, it’s not the easiest, especially when it’s raining.”
The couple initially contacted Waka Kotahi for compensation and were referred to Fulton Hogan.
A Waka Kotahi spokesperson said Gaudin was informed verbally of the outcome on May 31 that the claim was declined.
“When Grant McCallum was informed of the assessment after he inquired, it was on the basis that Ms Gaudin had already been contacted,” the spokesperson said.
“It has been highlighted that there was some miscommunication within Fulton Hogan due to the various personnel involved and we apologise for this.
“We can confirm the standard and accepted process in assessing if there was a fault, on the part of the contractor, was followed as per the Waka Kotahi process.
“It was confirmed by our contractor that Fulton Hogan had fulfilled its obligation under our contract.”
Fulton Hogan did not respond to questions about the compensation claim. A spokesperson said: “Waka Kotahi has addressed the questions raised”.
Maras said he had considered taking legal action, but even if the couple had the money, “we would rather use it on buying another car”.
“I assumed government contractors would stand by their own rules,” he said.
“They set the policies for us and we have to pay road tax, we’ve done our side, but when it comes down to them standing by their obligations they just don’t care.
“You’d think the Government would hold them to their own rules.”
McCallum said he felt sorry for the couple as “not everyone can afford the insurance or access to get their cars fixed”.
“Why should road users have to pay insurance for something that wasn’t their fault?”
Northlanders were “running a dangerous and expensive gauntlet” every time they drove down the road, McCallum said.
“We rightly require drivers to ensure their cars are fit for the road, but when will they get roads fit for their cars?”
National’s $500 million pothole repair fund would “get our roads back into shape so Northlanders and all New Zealanders can safely get around without having to find money for car repairs from already strained household budgets,” McCallum said.
Jenny Ling is a news reporter and features writer for the Northern Advocate. She has a special interest in covering roading, health, business and animal welfare issues.