Credit where credit is due
It is hard to not use the words Department of Conservation ( DoC) in any articles about four- wheeling access in New Zealand. With DoC managing around one third of the land making up New Zealand, I guess it ’s a foregone conclusion that their influence on where we can go, is going to be definitive. As I write this, I’m checking the DoC website for updates that might affect our recreational use of those DoC managed public lands and I see that I’ve almost missed the chance to comment on the Draft Conservation Management Strategy ( CMS) for Wellington that closed on April 4. That CMS is one of the last to be revised, with Nelson/ Marlborough listed as ‘review on hold’, East Coast/ Hawke's Bay and Bay of Plenty as ‘under review’ and Taupo/ Tongariro/ Wanganui as ‘review not yet scheduled’. It should be noted that a CMS is stated to be a ten year document, but with Taupo/ Tongariro it is now fif teen years since the last CMS was approved! Doc’s website ( www.doc.govt. nz/ cms ) states “Conservation Management Strategies are 10- year regional strategies that are a handshake with the community”. That same website has no information about the Bay of Plenty CMS review, apart from that ‘under review’ statement. Hardly the ‘ handshake’ suggested and maybe more of a digit to recreational users? With those North Island conservancies stretching right across the centre from coast to coast, they offer very valuable opportunities for 4x4 recreation and we must not let those CMS slip past without our input. It seems that sometimes, even if we do promote our recreation’s efforts to do ‘good works’ within our communities, not everyone is paying attention. An example is an area of regional parkland on Auckland’s South Kaipara Head that is known as Te Rau Puriri. It was a 247 hectare deer farm that Council purchased in 2005 and is being slowly converted to more of a ‘park’. The author of an article in the 16th of March edition of the local paper Nor-West News, suggests that nothing has been done at Te Rau Puriri to create a park and even quotes a Waitakere Ranges Local Board member, Sandra Coney, as saying that budget cuts have dropped parks service levels, but that she is “perfectly happy” that nothing has been developed yet at Te Rau Puriri. As a past Chair of the parks committee that purchased Te Rau Puriri: “We were buying for the future, we were buying land that would be there for future generations,” she said. There are however quite a few Auckland area fourwheel-drive club members who’ve been actively involved in developing that park for almost ten years. They’ve been a big part of the annual planting programme that has been revegetating hillsides and wetlands with assorted native plants and specimen trees such as Puriri. Each year around the month of May, the 4WD clubs descend on Te Rau Puriri for a day and often have planted in excess of two thousand plants. In February 2011, around a kilometre of old deer fencing was removed as part of another 4WD contribution to open up the park for public access. The irony is that the same newspaper has invariably published an account of those planting endeavours, along with photos. I guess you can’t let that sort of history get in the way of the “Regional Park Land Untouched” headline. The clubs are scheduled to be back there again on 28 May to plant more trees, so perhaps a more dramatic impression needs to be made to highlight that things are being done and by a community group that I suspect would have Sandra Coney surprised.
Members of Auckland area 4WD clubs helping revegetate hillsides and wetlands at the Te Rau Puriri park north-west of the city.