Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce has urged Northland business and civic leaders to keep pushing for an extension of the northern motorway from Auckland.
The Government plans to upgrade State Highway 1 to four lanes between Puhoi and Wellsford in two phases at a cost of $1.3 billion.
Critics have dubbed the road the 'holiday highway' and suggested the money would be better spent on rail or Auckland's transport needs.
But at a regional economic forum in Whangarei on Tuesday, Mr Joyce says it is crucial to sort out that stretch of the highway.
Mr Joyce says the Government remains absolutely focused on it and Northland interests need to keep advocating for the extension. He admits the cost is challenging, but the project is well worth doing for Northland and Auckland.
The minister says the Government has committed $12 billion over the next 10 years to roads of national significance and other highways.