SUPREME COURT DECISION ON DOC LAND SWAP

PRESS RELEASE
NZ OUTDOORS PARTY
6 JULY 2017

The NZ Outdoors Party welcomes the Supreme Court decision which ruled illegal the swapping of Ruahine Forest Park Conservation Land to enable the Ruataniwha Dam construction in Hawkes Bay and congratulates Forest & Bird on a successful outcome.

Co-Leaders, Alan Simmons and David Haynes, both commented that the Department of Conservation had, in this instance, completely lost its way when managing the New Zealand public conservation estate. They cited this as a case where the Minister and Director-General of Conservation used public funds against the interests of both the public and its conservation estate.

Haynes stated that “Our public conservation estate was inherited by DoC from land previously administered by the Wildlife Service, Forest Service and Lands and Survey Department. Along with this came a statutory obligation to manage such public land for conservation purposes, which includes recreation. In this instance it has taken the Supreme Court to remind them of this obligation.”

Alan Simmons said “It is particularly galling that, despite DoC’s reduced budget and bourgeoning workload from increasing tourist numbers, the Director-General and Minister of Conservation still thought that fighting a legal battle to trade public land with a commercial developer a prudent use of public money.” He continued “This decision comes on top of another lost court battle, where DoC were ruled to have failed in their statutory duty to consult with recreational hunters before issuing licences for commercial helicopter hunting (WARO) in the Lower North Island.”

The Outdoors Party encourages DoC to commit to expanding its consultation and engagement with outdoors interest groups and to take stock of the fact that its primary function is one of protecting and preserving public conservation land, not horse-trading with it.