Ori­en­teers nearly get lost in coun­cil red tape


Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JESS LEE

Ori­en­teers are used to over­com­ing ob­sta­cles.

With a map and com­pass in hand com­peti­tors take what­ever each course throws at them in their stride but for the Auck­land Ori­en­teer­ing Club it’s not al­ways a walk in the park.

The club is frus­trated with the in­creas­ingly strict reg­u­la­tions im­posed on their ca­sual sum­mer events by the Auck­land Coun­cil.

Ori­en­teers nav­i­gate on foot through un­fa­mil­iar ter­rain us­ing a map to find con­trol points.

Hun­dreds of peo­ple at­tend the Auck­land Ori­en­teer­ing Club’s sum­mer event se­ries run­ning across Auck­land parks in­clud­ing the Auck­land Do­main and Cornwall Park.

Be­fore ori­en­teers can hold an event they must get a per­mit from the coun­cil.

Stake­hold­ers, in­clud­ing the coun­cil’s her­itage team, must then be con­sulted be­fore ap­pli­cants gain ap­proval.

‘‘Get­ting through all of the per­mis­sions process this year has been a bit of 11th hour stuff,’’ club pres­i­dent and Pt Che­va­lier res­i­dent Guy Co­ryWright says.

Auck­land’s ori­en­teers have been run­ning their sum­mer se­ries for about 25 years.

This is the first sea­son they have been asked to sub­mit the lo­ca­tions of each of the 20 to 30 con­trol sites for ap­proval for in­di­vid­ual events.

Con­cerns about po­ten­tial dam­age and dis­rup­tion of her­itage sites in pre­mier parks, such as the Auck­land Do­main, have held up per­mits un­til just hours be­fore events de­spite ap­pli­ca­tions be­ing submitted months in ad­vance, Mr Cory-Wright says.

Ed­u­ca­tion for ori­en­teers and the coun­cil is one of the key steps in the process, he says.

A com­mon mis­con­cep­tion is that the sport is a run­ning race in which hordes of peo­ple travel in the same di­rec­tion cre­at­ing a track. In­stead com­peti­tors choose which route they take to com­plete the course.

‘‘Ori­en­teers are pretty nice peo­ple. We do the sport be­cause we ap­pre­ci­ate the out­doors and the val­ues that go with that,’’ Mr Co­ryWright says.

‘‘We’re happy to com­ply with the con­di­tions but we’re look­ing for some com­mon­sense rea­son­ing and some- times it doesn’t ap­pear to be there.’’

Coun­cil events man­ager David Burt says the coun­cil is re­view­ing its per­mit is­su­ing process for highly sen­si­tive ar­eas.

The last minute is­su­ing of per­mits is not a com­mon prac­tice, he says.

‘‘Of­fi­cers take ev­ery op­por­tu­nity to ed­u­cate event or­gan­is­ers on the per­mit process to try and make any sub­se­quent ap­pli­ca­tions as straight­for­ward as pos­si­ble.’’

Mr Burt says the coun­cil is al­ways happy to dis­cuss op­por­tu­ni­ties to stream­line fu­ture ap­pli­ca­tions where they ex­ist.

Ul­ti­mately the coun­cil’s parks, sports and recre­ation team is sup­port­ive of the sport’s ‘‘near zero im­pact’’ events, Mr Cory-Wright says.

But the club wants to know where it stands and is seek­ing a longer-term so­lu­tion which would set pa­ram­e­ters for such things as her­itage value and safe prac­tices, he says.

‘‘We can be flex­i­ble to coun­cil re­quire­ments and can work around ‘no-go’ ar­eas given enough lead time be­fore an event.’’


Rough patch: Auck­land Ori­en­teer­ing Club pres­i­dent Guy Cory-Wright, left, and Mt Al­bert ori­en­teer Tessa Boyd would like to see a longterm so­lu­tion reached for al­low­ing Auck­land’s ori­en­teers ac­cess to lo­cal parks.

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