Several years ago the Government recieved a report from the Walking Access Reference Group regarding access to public waterways and lands. Access is a key issue for kayakers involving the Upper Mohaka (Poronui Station), Upper Waiau, Upper Crooked, Lower Kaituna Gorges, Ngaawaparua and more.
For a while it looked like the Government was favourably disposed to implementing a better solution for recreational users, things like:
recognising public access rights as well as private property rights.
affirmation of the ethos of the Queen’s Chain (e.g., identifying gaps in Queen’s Chain and trying to establish new access, making the Queen’s Chain move with the river margin).
the formation of an independent Access Agency to provide national leadership and policy co-ordination on access issues.
provision of better information and signposting where existing legal access (e.g., along paper roads) exists.
provision of Access Code of Responsible Conduct, etc.
Unfortunately, this initiative was stalled at election time by a concerted campaign from the Federated Farmers and others. The Government has reconvened a Walking Access Consultation Panel that is undertaking a series of public meetings from 16 May – 20 June and asking for submissions on its consultation document. It is really important to have representation from recreational kayakers. If you can go, please go!
This is probably a once in a generation opportunity to improve access. The NZRCA will be putting together a detailed submission on this important issue but if you or your club want to submit individually then that would be great. If you want help with your submission, please contact us and we will be glad to help. Pete McDonald has also written a useful paper on related mapping issues. Submissions are due on 30 June.