HISTORY REPEATING ITSELF – BUT BETTER
Those of you who remember the Outdoors Recreation Party, brainchild of
Stuart and Zane Mirfin, will remember the big ripples it caused in the 2002
General Election, but the birth of the ORP was equally as memorable.
Standing on the back of a ute at the Molesworth goose hunt in 2001 Stuart
Mirfin proclaimed “enough was enough” and that he was forming a political
party so that anglers and hunters could have a say in the management of
their sports. A huge cheer ensued and a little over twelve months later, in
the 2002 General Election, the Outdoors Recreation Party had won 26,000
votes nationally, taking around 5% of the party vote in Nelson, Tasman and
the West Coast electorates. It was huge – ACT and National tried to
persuade them to drop out prior to the election with all political parties
suddenly declaring they had very similar policies to those espoused by ORP,
entirely coincidentally of course. Stuart, his wife Sherry and their son
Zane, had rocked the NZ political landscape which had for years
systematically ignored the rights and needs of outdoor enthusiasts.
Back in 2002, the core issues for ORP were:
1. to stop the indiscriminate aerial spreading of 1080.
2. to protect access to public land.
3. to fight degradation of freshwater and protection of sports fish.
4. to enshrine deer as a valued recreational species and remove its “pest”
5. to curtail inshore commercial fishing in preference to recreational sea
fishers’ rights to catch and gather kai moana.
So a viable outdoor focused political party was born and preparations began
in earnest for the 2005 election. Mindful of needing electorate seats to
enable them to take part in electoral candidate debates and deciding they
needed to convince their voters that they were politically neutral, or at
best moderate, they decided to “gift” their party to United Future. In
hindsight this proved a fatal mistake with ORP members and voters shying
away from voting for what they perceived to be a fundamental christian
group. United Future gained less than 6,000 additional votes compared to
2002, where the other 20,000 outdoor voters of 2002 went remains a mystery.
So here we are in 2015 and what are the main issues for us canoeists, horse
riders, hunters, fresh and saltwater anglers, game bird shooters and other
outdoors enthusiasts? Exactly the same!
– Aerial spreading of 1080 has continued unabated and actually increased,
despite its perpetual use over the past 50 years having failed to
exterminate, or even control possums, rats and stoats as promised.
– Public access mapping has been improved with the Walking Access Commission
GIS system but they fail dismally when it comes to stopping private
interests from appropriating public access, simply because the legislation
neuters them from exercising any legislative power.
– Freshwater standards are now expressed in the National Policy Statement on
Freshwater Management. Unfortunately these err in favour of primary
industry, do not fully kick in until 2030 and still allow nitrates to be
discharged at levels (6.9mg per litre of water) toxic to many aquatic
organisms – animals who can’t simply go somewhere else.
– Deer are still being labelled as pests, particularly by DoC and the more
fundamentalist environmental organisations. Fallow deer kills in the Arthur
Tablelands and whitetail deer kills alongside Lake Wakatipu are but two
examples where 1080 has been used knowing it will be consumed by deer.
– Recreational sea fishers from Auckland to Northland on the east coast have
suffered the indignity of having their snapper quota reduced whislt
commercial trawlers continue to harvest unchanged quotas, not a single
recreational fishing reserve has been put in place and sea fishers continue
to be frustrated by Blue Cod slot rules that ruin the fishing and fishery.
Once again we believe “Enough is enough”. We have formed the Outdoors Party
to rekindle the dream that our outdoor sports can and should be run and
controlled by those who understand and care about it. Us. The anglers,
hunters, canoers, trampers, duck shooters, bikers and every person who is
tired of not being listened to and being beaten into submission whilst our
rivers, lakes, forests, mountains and game animals are being sacrificed in
the name of profit and native species fundamentalism.
We thank all those who have joined the party and commit to both seeking your
views and input on developing our manifesto for the next General Election
and keeping you informed on what we are doing. Contrary to all the other
parties out there.
Tight lines, sharp shooting and here’s to giving Parliament a bloody good
run for the money.