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Waikato CMS preliminary draft comment

April 16, 2008

The NZFWDA has provided the Waikato Conservancy with comments about the preliminary draft CMS that DOC released earlier in the month. The absolute deadline for initial comments is Friday 18 April 2008. A formal CMS draft will be prepared by DOC for the required statutory consultation process.
A copy of the NZFWDA comments can be found below. The contact at DOC is Matt Vare mvare@doc.govt.nz

Waikato preliminary draft CMS

New Zealand Four Wheel Drive Association Inc. (NZFWDA) comment on the preliminary draft.

The NZFWDA is the national body for a large proportion of the organised 4WD clubs around New Zealand. Individual NZFWDA memberships exceed 2300 people, within 52 clubs. These numbers do not reflect the families of the individual members.

The evolution of the 4WD vehicle (4x4) and the numbers imported into NZ over recent years, has allowed a wide spectrum of the population to consider using their 4x4 vehicle to travel to areas that may in the past only have been seen by tramping club members. Those tramping clubs traditionally used modified trucks (often 4x4) to transport walkers as far as possible, before they got out and walked to their intended destination. Today's families want to do the same, but in the more flexible 4x4 and usually still in the company of others for safety. It is the children of today who will be the future guardians of our lands and unless they have experienced the variety and grandeur, even if mostly by 4x4, their enthusiasm is unlikely to be as passionate.

The ageing population is another factor, with many who were outdoor enthusiasts in their younger days, still wanting to explore and enjoy the back country but are now often limited by the physical capabilities of their bodies, often as a consequence of the exuberance of their previous outdoors activities.

The visit by the Department of Conservation (DOC) Waikato staff to Auckland was appreciated but the overall approach to "consultation" in the preparation of this important document appeared to fall well short of the suggested community relationship building that is written into the preliminary draft.

From the New Zealand Four Wheel Drive Association (NZFWDA) perspective we have concerns in several areas of the draft, as were discussed at the meeting.

The words "off road" imply cross country travel and in most cases that is not what 4x4 recreation on public lands involves. The use of "off highway" recognizes the use of lesser roads and what could be better described as "routes".

The presented options for 4x4 use within the first draft are poorly presented. The reference to the Maratoto "Place" suggests more off highway options than do presently exist, with only one actual route for 4x4 vehicles and one specifically for motorcycles and quad use. We would like reference to possible increases to those options within the Maratoto, as the existing routes are already well used and the CMS is supposedly forward looking.

We would like the language of the CMS to be defined (as in will, should and may) and for the option of 4x4 recreation to be allowed in other parts of the Waikato conservancy.

The possible 4x4 use of the farm parks on the Coromandel and otherwise infrequently used old benched routes need recognizing in the CMS. Again we are looking at up to 10 years ahead and without provision in the planning, the present only option on the Coromandel at Maratoto, is likely to become very stressed.

Clear reference to the options for 4x4 use in the Pureora Forest are needed. At present there is only a passing reference in the draft.

As pointed out at the meeting in Auckland, there is a need for DOC to recognize the heritage value of old routes through and across the public land that they manage. A policy of elimination of such pieces of valued heritage, for economic management reasons, is not acceptable and effectively contravenes the Conservation and Historic Places Acts.

The preliminary draft is inadequate in its vision for 4x4 recreational options for the Waikato conservancy. There may be many unexplored opportunities within those lands for a variety of 4x4 recreation types. The NZFWDA realize that DOC knowledge of our needs is limited and we plan to work to widen that knowledge through working with the Department where possible.

In the meantime we request that the CMS is written in a flexible manner so that the future can be addressed and managed as it evolves.

Yours truly,

Peter Vahry
NZFWDA northern public relations

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