Road Transport Forum rebrands, issue with freight

To better reflect road freight transport’s vital role in the New Zealand economy, the industry’s representatives have rebranded as Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand, says chief executive Nick Leggett.

The industry body responsible for promoting and advancing the interests of trucking operators around New Zealand was set up in 1997 as the Road Transport Forum, and has often been referred to as the RTF.

“That name and logo reflected that time, and the new name and logo better embrace the mood and culture in Aotearoa New Zealand today,” Leggett says.

“The Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand logo has been designed as a modern, dynamic brand reflecting the role of the road freight transport industry. The arrows represent the North and South Islands and the vital road links that the industry provides for the economy and commerce in New Zealand.

“The name is represented in English and te reo Māori, appropriate for any new brand in Aotearoa New Zealand.

“The name conveys what the industry does for the public and business in Aotearoa New Zealand – transporting their goods, to their door, when they need them; or their food, medicines and other essentials to the stores they shop at, so it is always there when they want it.

“In 2019, we did extensive research on what road freight transport means to New Zealanders and how they view the service delivered, the vehicles that deliver – trucks, and the people involved in the industry.

“Our research showed New Zealanders generally have a favourable view of trucks and understand their role in delivering for the country and the economy. We know that understanding has grown since COVID-19 came to our shores and people have seen truck drivers consistently deliver the goods through all the various lockdowns and alert levels.

“The verb transporting in the name shows the action and movement that are part of the industry 24/7,” Leggett says.

The rebranding includes a new website and new email addresses which will be advised to industry. Ia Ara Aotearoa can be translated as “each and every road of Aotearoa” – with the premise that every road that etches the land across our country will be driven on by one of the freight vehicles of Transporting New Zealand – Ia Ara Aotearoa.

Combining these meanings creates what we believe infuses the essence of what Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand represents.

Meanwhile Leggett has strong opinion that more must be done to get freight on the move throughout the country.

“Our industry appears to still be ‘paying the PM’s price’ while freedoms have been granted to the rest of the nation, as surveillance testing of truck drivers crossing Auckland’s border continues on past the lowering of Level 4. This requires a massive amount of police and defence personnel and even though they are running the best process they can, it still results in delays and angst for truck drivers and freight companies. There is also a massive amount of freight to be moved out of Auckland and through the rest of the country that has been stuck in lockdown

“A lot of work goes in to ensuring drivers are tested every seven days. We also do a lot of waiting around for the Public Health Orders that lay down the letter of the law to be followed – each time there is an update to these documents, which dictate the way businesses can run, are not forthcoming until literally, the 11th hour. They come into play at 11.59pm and are often not available until just minutes before that. Our internet refresh buttons are taking a pounding. There is no consultation or discussion, whatever is in that next Order is just done to us.”

Leggett says that if New Zealand is not going to get back to, or aim for zero cases of COVID-19, then he sees little evidence that this is a good idea as an ongoing process?

“It’s not like the supply chain is working like a well-oiled machine. There is an ongoing situation of a lack of ships calling at New Zealand, to drop off goods from other parts of the world and pick up our exports. We are too small, too far away, and increasingly, too difficult to do business with as we remain closed and the rest of the world opens up.

“Supply chain issues have been compounded by poor planning and an inability to think ahead by KiwiRail, as two out of their three ferries have been taken out of the Interislander service between North and South Islands. It is supposed to be just two weeks of inconvenience, but it’s KiwiRail so we are sceptical, and fear it might be more,” says Leggett.

Transporting New Zealand has been focussed on this issue, raising it with Transport Minister Michael Wood and KiwiRail CEO, Greg Miller.

“The latter launched into distracting bluster, talking about everything other than the inability to forecast this significant problem. We’ve also now followed up with the Minister in writing to outline specific industry concerns,” says Leggett.