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Farmer Goodwill is meeting the Needs of Recreational Users

There is little evidence that there is a problem with current land access provisions with over 40% of New Zealand readily available for public access and recreation.

In a submission to the Land Access Review Group Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc) National Board member John Aspinall said that the massive increase in outdoor recreation and rural tourism has been helped by farmers allowing access to their land.

"It is also clear that farmers hold the right to manage access to their property as a fundamental principle of land ownership, said Mr Aspinall.

"Farmers must retain the right to manage who comes onto their land, for how long and for what reason. At the end of the day a farm is a business and we do not allow the public to wander at will through factories or office blocks.

"Public access has major implications for farm management in terms of security of property, the health and safety of the land owners, their staff and visitors, environmental, animal welfare and fire risks and disruption to their normal farm activity.

"The need to educate visitors on their responsibilities is highlighted by examples from the Federated Farmer's survey of land owners of gates being left open resulting in animal deaths and injuries, mis-mothered lambs and cows being given access to trees which could have caused spontaneous abortions.

"The survey indicates that farmers are generally very generous with access to their properties. This is surprising given examples of a hunter's dog killing 46 in lamb ewes, landowners having to rescue trespassers in the middle of the night, trespassers growing marijuana and shots fired at farm houses.

"It is vital that this review builds on the goodwill which currently exists at local level between landowners and recreational users. A prescriptive legal approach risks less access not more.

"Access to private land is a privilege not a right and more emphasis needs to be placed on educating recreational users on the responsibilities that come with the privilege of accessing private land."

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