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News from the field - August 2012
'News from the field' provides a roundup of public access topics being worked on by the New Zealand Walking Access Commission's regional field advisor network. In each Accessing New Zealand newsletter, two field advisors update readers with the latest from their region.
Nicola Henderson, Hawke's Bay and Wairarapa
The Commission has established good relationships with territorial authorities and stakeholder groups in the lower part of the North Island. I am regularly invited to assist with access issues and continue to be involved in efforts to improve public access through mediation and signage. As awareness of the Commission's role increases, I am receiving more requests to support the creation of new access and help with access negotiations.
The Commission is also assisting communities in the lower North Island through its Enhanced Access Fund. In the latest round, funds have been provided to the Wairarapa Moana Wetland Project to help with construction of a bridge on a proposed new walkway that will provide access to the eastern lakeshore and wetlands of Lake Wairarapa.
Access to this important body of water has been difficult in the past and people have been unable to appreciate its visual and biodiversity values. Improved access via the new bridge will increase awareness and help in the efforts to protect and enhance this valuable wetland.
In the Hawke's Bay, the purchase of land by overseas interests has presented some new and exciting access possibilities. Forestry land in particular seems to be in demand and the Commission is working closely with the Overseas Investment Office to ensure that conditions of access are agreed early on in the negotiations. To this end I am working closely with the territorial authorities and Department of Conservation, both of which may become responsible for access in the future.
John Wauchop, Bay of Plenty and Eastland
The enquiries I receive as the regional advisor for the East Coast and eastern Bay of Plenty often relate to longstanding access issues or the purchase of land under Overseas Investment Office conditions. These enquiries can be very interesting and have allowed me to visit parts of the region that I would never have had the chance to see otherwise. This enables me to make contact with landholders and increase awareness of the Commission.
Many of the overseas purchasers looking to buy land in our country could easily be mistaken for New Zealanders in their aspirations for the land as they often have similar desires and designs to the previous owners. Consequently many of them understand the implications of access, often better than I expected.
In some cases decisions by the Overseas Investment Office to allow foreign investors to purchase land here have a New Zealand Walking Access Commission component. The Commission aims to work with purchasers, stakeholders and the Overseas Investment Office to identify permanent walking access requirements on the land in question. In some cases there has not been any historic walking access over the land being purchased, while other properties have always had either walkers or hunters as part of their environment.
As the Commission becomes more widely known I look forward to helping even more outdoorspeople and landholders work together to resolve access issues.