Wednesday, 15 March 2023 - 3:54pm

Maccas trays and Kiwi ingenuity

2 min read

News article photos (3 items)

Constable Adrian Bentley kneeling on the floor squeezing washing up liquid on the back of a tray.
Two officers with the car jacked up, sliding the tray under one of its wheels.
Two officers pushing the vehicle out of the way.

Two resourceful Tāmaki Makaurau Motorways constables pulled off an impressive bit of problem-solving to go - with the help of a fast food outlet, some washing-up liquid and a side order of ingenuity.

Waterlogged vehicles littered the streets of Auckland in the aftermath of the 27 January flash floods - around 2000 have since been towed by Auckland Transport. With only so many tow trucks in the super city, motorists were left dodging some precariously positioned hazards during and after the storm.

In the North Shore suburb of Milford, two abandoned vehicles in particular were blocking an intersection, adding to the dangerous driving conditions by making motorists switch lanes against oncoming traffic.

With the potential for a serious crash, Motorways Constables Aaron Rom and Adrian Bentley were called on to help direct traffic at the Nile Road/Alma Road intersection. No tow truck would be able to get there until the following evening, so they took it upon themselves to manoeuvre the two vehicles off the road.

The cars were hydrolocked - engines seized, with water in their cylinders - and dead electronically and couldn't be steered or overridden into neutral.

A former vehicle mechanic and confessed car enthusiast, Adrian had a brainwave. He made a dash to McDonald's in Wairau Road and requestioned four plastic serving trays. Aaron acquired a bottle of washing-up liquid from a nearby home.

They jacked up the vehicles using a trolley jack from the Harbour Bridge Station, lubricated the serving trays with the washing-up liquid, and slid them under the wheels.

"This reduced the friction gradient enough to allow the vehicles to be pulled/pushed away from the intersection and to the side of the road, removing their risk to road users," says Adrian.

"We used the push bars on the motorway units and attached tow hooks to pull the vehicles to the side of the road."

Police officers pushing the vehicle out of the way.

All of this was captured on camera by a Greenstone TV crew who were out filming with Adrian and Aaron for a future series of the reality TV series Motorway Patrol. The officers' ingenuity also drew an audience of impressed local residents.

Tāmaki Makaurau Road Policing Manager, Inspector Scott Webb, says it was all hands to the pump for staff during the storm.

"I was impressed with the two constables' thinking outside the square with some great Kiwi ingenuity," he says.

"It just demonstrates just how Adrian’s previous role as a vehicle mechanic, and the skills he learnt from that craft, assisted in his police work."

Heroic, sheer brilliance, all in the name of safe roads.