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Consultation on walking access begins

Rural Affairs Minister Jim Sutton is seeking public feedback on proposals to clarify and enhance the legal situation relating to public walking access over private land, along riverbanks and the foreshores of lakes and the sea.

The Government has organised a series of public consultation meetings and hui around New Zealand following the recent release of the report of the Land Access Ministerial Reference Group.

Mr Sutton said, "The consultation will be an opportunity for anyone to tell the Government their views on walking access to land."

The Ministerial Reference Group found that the current law and institutional arrangements are inadequate to meet public expectations for access in today's society.

It found that there is a lack of clarity and a gap between expectations and understanding of those seeking access and those providing access to recreational areas - particularly where it involves crossing private land.

Mr Sutton said, "The common belief by most New Zealanders is that the Queen's Chain gives us the legal right to access rivers, lakes and the sea. The reality is that there are many wilderness areas and parts of rivers and the seashore that people cannot get access to because of the ad hoc legal situation around the country.

Some members of the former Land Access Ministerial Reference Group, including the former Chairman John Acland, will attend the meetings to explain the group's proposals.

The proposals include ideas such as the formation of a New Zealand Access Strategy, with five objectives to:

  • Strengthen leadership, to provide direction for, and coordination of, access arrangements nationwide;
  • Provide greater clarity and certainty of access by locating and publicising what is acceptable and where it may occur;
  • Affirm the validity and embrace the ethos of the Queen's Chain by providing mechanisms for its promotion and enhancement;
  • Encourage negotiated solutions for access across private land; and
  • Find ways to improve current legislation provisions for access.

Mr Sutton says this is about securing access to the outdoors in the long term but he emphasises the report does not set out Government policy. It is a separate issue to the Government's current consultation on New Zealand's foreshore and seabed.

Public meetings are as follows:

23 September Taupo
24 September Rotorua
29 September Greymouth
30 September Christchurch
3 October Geraldine
7 October Auckland (Waitakere)
8 October Auckland (North Shore)
9 October Auckland Central
9 October Gisborne
10 October Napier
13 October Dunedin
14 October Cromwell
14 October Blenheim
15 October Invercargill
15 October Nelson
16 October Wellington
17 October Masterton
20 October Hamilton
21 October New Plymouth
21 October Whitianga
22 October Tauranga
22 October Palmerston North
29 October Whangarei
29 October Pahia
30 October Kaitaia

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