Vahry­ous thoughts


There seems to be an in­ter­est­ing evo­lu­tion of some of those New Zealand four wheel­ers who a few years ago were rather ‘anti or­gan­i­sa­tion’, but al­most with­out re­al­is­ing it they ap­pear to be­com­ing or­gan­ised. By es­tab­lish­ing web­sites and so­cial me­dia iden­ti­ties, surely they might have to con­sider them­selves as ‘or­gan­ised’? As a long time com­men­ta­tor on the need for re­spon­si­bil­ity in our re­cre­ation, it is also good to note the en­cour­age­ment of that too. In an ideal world, it would be great to have more in­te­gra­tion of all four wheel­ers to cre­ate a uni­fied voice for 4x4 re­cre­ation in NZ. At present we have the New Zealand Four Wheel Drive As­so­ci­a­tion Inc. ( NZFWDA) and Com­bined 4WD Clubs Inc. as the faces of ‘or­gan­ised ‘ four wheel­ing. The NZFWDA has rea­son­ably good links to gov­ern­ment bod­ies like the Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion ( DoC) and Walk­ing Ac­cess Com­mis­sion, etc. while not be­ing par­tic­u­larly good at com­mu­ni­cat­ing via the in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar so­cial me­dia. The newer groups have ‘or­gan­ised’ us­ing so­cial me­dia and have those skills, but not the direct con­nec­tions to bu­reau­cracy. The con­ven­tional struc­ture of most 4x4 clubs and rep­re­sen­ta­tive or­gan­i­sa­tions like the NZFWDA does al­low those groups to en­gage with lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and gov­ern­ment or­gan­i­sa­tions in a for­mal man­ner, in­clud­ing things like mem­o­ran­dums of un­der­stand­ings ( MOU), part­ner­ships and fund­ing of projects. New Zealand is not big enough to have frag­mented rep­re­sen­ta­tion to con­tend with the re­cent trends of health and safety laws, a grow­ing em­pha­sis on other uses of pub­lic lands and en­vi­ron­men­tal ex­pec­ta­tion for 4x4 use. If some­how the var­i­ous sec­tors could be brought to­gether, we could have a re­mark­able in­flu­ence on the fu­ture of four wheel­ing. Yes, there would need to be ‘rules’, just as our gen­eral life and even so­cial me­dia has rules. Rules can have ben­e­fits, such as an abil­ity to get in­sur­ances be­cause you are part of an or­gan­i­sa­tion with cer­tain stan­dards, some ac­cess op­por­tu­ni­ties are gen­er­ated for the same rea­sons and it’s your choice to ac­tively par­tic­i­pate as a mem­ber, or sim­ply be­long and take the ben­e­fits with­out en­gag­ing. I push this ‘unity’ be­cause there are com­ple­men­tary skills in the 4x4 com­mu­nity that, if work­ing to­gether, could make a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence to fu­ture ac­cess op­por­tu­ni­ties. It is an elec­tion year too and we need to be very aware of what ef­fect the Green Party in a gov­ern­ment might mean to our use of DoC lands. I men­tioned ear­lier the abil­ity for many es­tab­lished ( in­cor­po­rated) groups to form ‘part­ner­ships’ with DoC, which in the­ory means that man­aged ac­cess to an area may be al­lowed for up to ten years. These agree­ments have in gen­eral, been slow to ini­ti­ate, with only one in op­er­a­tion for four wheel­ing and that was put to­gether by the King Coun­try 4WD Club for spe­cific 4x4 ar­eas in Pure­ora For­est. The pend­ing agree­ment for the Mara­toto area was ini­ti­ated by Auck­land 4WD Club in early 2014, taken over by the NZFWDA and at the time of writ­ing is still not fi­nalised. DoC in­tro­duced the con­cept of part­ner­ing with four wheel drive clubs at a NZFWDA con­fer­ence back in 2012. Pro­cesses like part­ner­ships are per­haps some­thing that might be en­hanced by greater in­volve­ment of those four wheel­ers cur­rently out­side the NZFWDA, with their abil­ity to use so­cial me­dia and its in­flu­ence. As I’ve iden­ti­fied in past col­umns, the con­test for use of pub­lic lands is in full swing and four wheel­ing is be­ing slow in stak­ing a claim. It is no longer use­ful to have ‘se­cret’ tracks with no recog­ni­tion; if such a route is claimed by an­other re­cre­ation, there will be lit tle that can be done to claim it back! Four-wheel­ing will need to ‘own’ routes and take re­spon­si­bil­ity for their stan­dards if we are to re­tain any ac­cess on pub­lic lands. It can be achieved with a will to do it and a uni­fied ap­proach.

A uni­fied ap­proach will help keep trails open for 4WDs.

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