Summary of report recommendations

A list of the recommendations included in this report, organised by key theme (see Key themes), are included in the table below. The table indicates whether recommendations require legislative amendments to the Act, or whether changes can be made within the existing Act. Recommendations have been endorsed by all members of the review panel, except for Recommendation 26 where the review panel holds a different view. This review recommends that the number of Commission board members remain at between five and eight, but the review panel considers section 8 of the Act should be amended so that the board will have five members only. See the review panel’s Foreword for the review panel’s reasoning.

A number of specific, technical changes to the Act have also been identified in this report. Although not dealt with as formal recommendations, these are also included in the table below.

Key theme

Recommendation

Legislative change

Necessity of the Act

Recommendation 1: That the House of Representatives notes this review finds there is resounding support for the ongoing need for the Walking Access Act 2008, and that the New Zealand Walking Access Commission is performing an important and valued role in the public access system.

Not required

Purpose, objective and priorities

Recommendation 2: That:

  1. the name of the Walking Access Act 2008 be changed to the Outdoor Access Act; and

  2. the name of the New Zealand Walking Access Commission be changed to the New Zealand Outdoor Access Commission; and

  3. the New Zealand Walking Access Commission be given a new Māori name that has a similar meaning to ‘New Zealand Outdoor Access Commission’, and that the Māori name be included in the Walking Access Act 2008; and

  4. amendments be made to wording throughout the Walking Access Act 2008 to replace all references to ‘walking access’ and ‘types of access that may be associated with walking access’, with ‘public access to the outdoors’. This includes defining ‘public access to the outdoors’ in section 4 of the Walking Access Act 2008, and amendments to wording reflecting ‘walking access’, such as the term ‘walkway.’

Required

Recommendation 3: That the purpose in section 3 of the Walking Access Act 2008 be amended to capture the benefits of access wider than ‘enjoyment’, including health, social, cultural, and economic benefits.

Required

Recommendation 4: That section 11 of the Walking Access Act 2008, which outlines priorities for walking access over private land, be replaced with a requirement for the Commission to set priorities through a strategic planning process. This new process will determine the priorities for the Commission’s work as a whole, over a three to five year period. Input on the suggested priorities would be sought from the relevant Minister before they are finalised and made public in a strategy document. Every three to five years, the priorities would be reconsidered.

Required

Challenges and future requirements

 

Recommendation 5: That consideration be given to additional resourcing for the Commission to enable it to continue and expand strategic, regionally-focused project work. This work would facilitate coordinated responses to access needs, and could have a particular focus on regions with identified or anticipated tourism pressure.

Not required

Recommendation 6: That consideration be given to additional resourcing for the Commission to help alleviate areas under pressure from high visitor numbers, by:

  1. identifying and facilitating new public access opportunities, away from areas experiencing pressure; and

  2. developing and coordinating solutions to inadequate infrastructure in areas experiencing pressure.

Not required

Recommendation 7: That the Commission considers equity of access:

  1. when identifying and establishing access, including for different population groups (ages, ethnicities, abilities, income, and urban and rural populations), and types of recreational and other access users; and

  2. when promoting and marketing access to the outdoors.

Not required

Recommendation 8: That further investigation is undertaken, working with the Commission and Land Information New Zealand, into whether a relaxation of the survey requirements for public access ways would be feasible, to ensure the needs of all relevant parties are met now and into the future.

Not required

Recommendation 9: That consideration be given to additional resourcing for the Commission to increase promotion and distribution of the New Zealand Outdoor Access Code, including making the Code available in a greater range of languages.

Not required

Recommendation 10: That cross-government collaboration between the Commission, the Department of Conservation, Tourism New Zealand and territorial authorities be formalised, to focus on developing consistency in content and messaging for visitor behaviour guidance.

Not required

Functions of the Commission

Recommendation 11: That amendments be made to section 10 of the Walking Access Act 2008, to:

  1. combine, where appropriate, existing functions and frame them in broader terms. While existing functions have served the Commission well, consolidation will allow greater flexibility for the Commission in carrying them out; and

  2. include a statement acknowledging that the listed functions do not prevent the Commission carrying out any other work in line with its objective as set out in section 9 of the Walking Access Act 2008.

Required

Recommendation 12: That:

  1. given the acknowledged success of the Walking Access Mapping System, the Commission, the Department of Conservation, Land Information New Zealand and territorial authorities work together to consolidate and improve the consistency of information on access, including agreeing on data standards for access information; and

  2. consideration be given to additional resourcing for Commission to lead and coordinate a national, standardised approach for physical signage on tracks and trails.

Not required

Recommendation 13: That consideration be given to additional resourcing for the Commission to undertake the below listed functions, and that amendments be made to section 10 of the Walking Access Act 2008 to include:

  1. a new function for the Commission to partner with Māori in the context of carrying out all of its functions listed in section 10; and

  2. a new function for the Commission to work with central and local government at a policy level to promote and support public access to the outdoors; and

  3. a new function for the Commission to coordinate and build the capacity of volunteers and community groups; and

  4. as part of subsection 10(1)(d), the provision of advice on public access issues to the Overseas Investment Office (Land Information New Zealand) in relation to

    applications for purchases of land under the Overseas Investment Act 2005; and

  5. as part of subsection 10(1)(d), the provision of advice on public access issues to the Office for Māori Crown Relations - Te Arawhiti, in relation to Treaty settlement processes; and

  6. as part of subsection 10(1)(d), the provision of advice to Land Information New Zealand on public access issues, in relation to Crown Pastoral Land.

Required

Partnerships

Recommendation 14: That consideration be given to the following options to strengthen the Commission’s ability to be involved in cross-government work relevant to public access:

  1. the Ministry for Primary Industries taking on a greater role in connecting the Commission to central government work and processes; and/or

  2. the development of memorandums of understanding between the Commission and relevant government agencies, which would include a requirement to consult on policy and other work relevant to public access; and/or

  3. amending other relevant legislation to require government agencies to consult with the Commission on policy and other work relevant to public access to the outdoors, noting this option would require further consultation to determine operational and resourcing impacts on other agencies.

May be required

Recommendation 15: That further investigation be undertaken, in consultation with the Commission and territorial authorities, on options for formalising the Commission’s role in processes to stop unformed legal roads, including:

  1. legislative amendments to the Walking Access Act 2008, the Local Government Act 1974 and Public Works Act 1981, to establish a single statutory process dealing with unformed legal road stopping and the establishment of alternative public access; and/ or

  2. legislative amendments to the Walking Access Act 2008, Local Government Act 1974 and Public Works Act 1981, to enable a formal role for the Commission in decisions to stop unformed legal roads, including being notified of closures, consulting with the public on access needs, and advising on alternative access options; and/or

  3. the development of memorandums of understanding with territorial authorities, setting out how the Commission and territorial authorities will work together to manage requests to stop legal roads. These agreements could capture collaboration in other areas of shared interest, such as planning and development processes.

May be required

Recommendation 16: That amendments be made to the Walking Access Act 2008, to enable the current walkway mechanism under Part 3 of the Act to extend over unformed legal roads, without detracting from the existing legal access rights on unformed legal roads.

Required

Recommendation 17: That further investigation be undertaken on options for integrating the responsibilities and functions of the Commission, Te Araroa Trust, and New Zealand Cycle Trail Incorporated, with the Commission taking a leadership and coordination role in the development, promotion and management of outdoor recreational access.

Not required

Recommendation 18: That consideration be given to additional resourcing for the Commission to enable it to better utilise volunteer groups, including through the provision of advice, track promotion and marketing, and capacity building support.

Not required

Māori interests

Recommendation 19: That amendments be made to the Walking Access Act 2008 to acknowledge the Māori-Crown relationship under the Treaty of Waitangi and better reflect Māori interests, by including:

  1. explicit principles of a partnership approach between the Commission and Māori across the breadth of the Commission’s work, with a requirement that these principles be translated by the Commission into its organisation strategies and practices; and

  2. a new access mechanism that allows access to sites of cultural significance for Māori to be limited to relevant Māori groups, and, as far as possible, preserves Māori ownership and control over their land where public access is provided; and

  3. a requirement for Controlling Authorities to partner and engage with relevant Māori groups on management of public access areas on Māori land, or where public access is negotiated to sites of cultural significance.

Required

Recommendation 20: That the Commission continue to work with Māori to understand and address barriers to providing public access, including revisiting content in the New Zealand Outdoor Access Code about behaviour on culturally sensitive or significant land.

Not required

Recommendation 21: That the Commission work more closely with relevant Māori groups where Treaty settlements include reference to the Walking Access Act 2008, to explore, and where appropriate, establish access opportunities.

Not required

Controlling Authorities

Recommendation 22: That further investigation be undertaken on:

  1. amendments being made to section 35 of the Walking Access Act 2008 to expand Controlling Authorities to include non-public bodies, such as community and Māori groups; and

  2. standards or requirements being developed by the Commission, which must be met by non-public bodies before appointment as a Controlling Authority. These standards or requirements are for the purpose of ensuring that non-public bodies have the capability to take on the role of Controlling Authority.

May be required

Recommendation 23: That further investigation be undertaken on:

  1. how the Commission could partner with non-public bodies to undertake the role of Controlling Authority; and

  2. the scope of a monitoring role for the Commission where non-public bodies are appointed as a Controlling Authority.

Not required

Governance

Recommendation 24: That responsibility for administration of the Walking Access Act 2008 remain with the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Not required

Recommendation 25: That the Commission remain a Crown entity (Crown agent).

Not required

Recommendation 26: That the current range of between five and eight Commission board members indicated in section 8 of the Walking Access Act 2008 be retained.

Not required

Recommendation 27: That amendments be made to section 8 of the Walking Access Act 2008 to include a list of core skills, experience and knowledge that the board as a

collective would need to encompass. At a minimum, these should include skills, experience and knowledge relevant to outdoor recreation, landowner and rural interests, tikanga Māori, local government, and central government, noting further consultation should be undertaken to determine the appropriate level of Māori representation on the board.

Required

Recommendation 28: That:

  1. the Ministry for Primary Industries widen its current consultation process when preparing a shortlist of potential Commission board members for decision by the responsible Minister; and

  2. consistency and continuity in membership is considered when deciding appointment terms for Commission board members; and

  3. further investigation is undertaken on how appointment processes could most appropriately ensure adequate representation of Māori interests.

Not required

Resourcing

Recommendation 29: That:

  1. given the core work of the Commission, specifically the Walking Access Mapping System and the work of Regional Field Advisers, is highly valued, the Commission’s baseline funding be increased to, at a minimum, keep up with the pace of inflation; and

  2. any changes to the scope or quantum of the Commission’s work as a result of this review be accompanied by appropriate additional funding.

Not required

Recommendation 30: That further investigation be undertaken, in consultation with the Commission and Land Information New Zealand, on enabling the Commission to recover the costs of its role in Overseas Investment Act processes, including determining the outputs and costs involved.

Not required

Specific legislative changes

Technical change 1: That amendments be made to the provisions relating to walkways in the Walking Access Act 2008, to reflect the legal arrangements of leasehold land under the Land Act 1948, specifically to require walkways to be agreed to by both the leaseholder and the Commissioner of Crown Lands.

Technical change 2: That amendments be made to subsection 10(a)(ii) of the Walking Access Act 2008 to remove reference to ‘Sport and Recreation New Zealand’.

Technical change 3: That amendments be made to section 19 of the Walking Access Act 2008, to specify that the Commission provides the New Zealand Outdoor Access Code free of charge.

Technical change 4: That amendments be made to section 38 of the Walking Access Act 2008 to require controlling authorities to notify the Commission within 48 hours of closing a walkway, and to provide quarterly updates on progress towards re-opening access.

Technical change 5: That amendments be made to the Walking Access Act 2008 to remove section 80.

Technical change 6: That amendments be made to the Walking Access Act 2008 to remove section 75.

Required