FMC Launch of Remarkable Outdoors

David Haynes, Co-Leader of the Outdoors Party was grateful to have been invited to the Federated Mountain Club’s Remarkable Outdoors launch. The event was help on 16 June 2017 in Wellington to promote the establishment of the Remarkables range as a National Park and to set out FMC expectations of political parties in the 2017 General Election.

The Outdoors Party, along with the Green Party, United Future and Opportunities Party were given five minutes to address the audience and then respond to questions from the floor. A multitude of issues were covered with the Outdoors Party confirming the following outdoors policies:

1. A moratorium, amendment or repealing of Section 26 of the Conservation Act so as to prevent any sale or swap of public stewardship land until all such land has been rigorously assessed for conservation and recreation values.

2. The Walking Access Commission’s existence is up for renewal in 2018 and we believe it should be retained and its statutory role strengthened.

3. Total DoC funding has been reduced by 22% in real terms since 2006 whilst tourism numbers have increased over 40% in the same period. In the absence of an effective Minister of Tourism and having no Ministry of Tourism, DoC has become that default Ministry. We believe DoC funding should be increased to reflect its increasing responsibilities but also to put in place better checks and balances so money is not wasted, as evidenced previously, on things such as the re-organisation and subsequent re-re-organisation and DoC funding the fight to swap Forest Park public conservation land with other land solely to enable the Ruataniwha Dam scheme.

4. The Outdoors Party believes that imposing conservation, tourism or taonga taxes on visitors is ill-thought out for the following reasons:

a) There is no guarantee such monies will be ring-fenced for recreation, environmental or conservation purposes.
b) It excuses future Governments from any future commitment to adequately fund the protection and enhancement of public conservation land.
c) It does nothing to stem the excesses and impact that unbridled tourism can bring.

We believe there is a limit to how many tourists we can accommodate well and that a tourist lottery system would address this. It is already in place on some Great Walks, such as the Milford Track, is used successfully in many USA National Parks and can be introduced incrementally to protect our public estate from being over-run with tourists and to ensure Kiwis have preferential entitlement to enjoy iconic back country areas.

5. Hunters and anglers are major users of the public conservation estate and the Outdoors Party encourages all advocacy organisations with interests in the outdoors to find common ground and maintain dialogue if we are to successfully influence those in power to realise our outdoor values. Like humans, our game animals, birds and fish are here to stay so we need to work together to find the optimum way to have good conservation values and good outdoor recreation.

6. Hunters and anglers are conservationists. We believe we should be in charge of the management of our game animals so as to achieve both positive recreational and conservation outcomes. NZ Deerstalkers Association, Fish & Game, The Thar Interest Group, Fiordland Wapiti Foundation and Sika Foundation are real examples of how we can manage the quality, numbers and distribution of game species to meet both of these outcomes.

7. The success of the NZ Outdoors Party depends on the 45,000 trampers, 700,000 sea fishers, 200,000 game animal hunters, 110,000 freshwater anglers and 34,000 game bird enthusiasts to take a chance and give us their party vote. Don’t wait until there is yet another fishery destroyed by pollution, another indiscriminate deer herd kill, another track closed, another bay fished out or another walk fit to burst with too many tourists. It will be too late. No other party cares that much for the things we care solely about.