Credit where credit is due

NZ4WD - - Vahryous Thoughts -

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.

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