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New budget funding means more outdoor access for Kiwis
Budget 2020 has doubled annual funding for the Walking Access Commission Ara Hīkoi Aotearoa, the Government agency responsible for enhancing public access to the outdoors.
The Commission will receive an extra $1.8 million in the 2020/2021 and 2021/2022 budget years, on top of its existing funding of $1.8 million.
The Commission’s chief executive Ric Cullinane says the money is crucial.
“Over recent years, we have been drawing down on cash reserves to do our important work securing and promoting public outdoor access. This budget funding gives us the certainty we need to keep doing our work, for the benefit of all New Zealanders.”
The 2019 Review of the Walking Access Act 2008 recommended an increase to the Commission’s baseline funding. It noted that the Commission’s funding, which had not increased since it was set up in 2008, was minuscule, and that the work of the Commission was recognised as important by people involved in recreation, the primary sector, te ao Māori and local government.
Cullinane says the review showed widespread support and appreciation for the Commission’s work.
“Without this extra funding, we would have needed to cut our work alongside community trail building groups, councils and other partners. This work includes creating, improving and promoting tracks, trails and other forms of public access to the outdoors for walkers, cyclists, horse riders, hunters and anglers.”
As well as allowing existing projects to continue, the funding announced will also:
- improve the Commission's ability to work in partnership with iwi, hapū and Māori on public access issues, supporting its obligations as a Crown entity through the Treaty of Waitangi.
- support and improve the globally significant Te Araroa Trail running from Cape Reinga to Bluff, including better connecting New Zealanders with it.
Cullinane says the Commission is grateful to all the people who participated in the review during 2019. Their vocal support has provided a clear direction for the Commission to grow in the future.