Give by choice not compulsion


Out staff gave us a voucher for two nights at Awaroa Lodge for our 25th wedding anniversary.

It’s in Abel Tasman National Park and not somewhere you go by accident so it took us a while to redeem it but it was well worth the wait.

New Zealand is blessed with many areas of outstanding natural beauty and this is one of the gems – native bush, white sand, clear blue sea and, at least while we were there, sky to match.

The bay is in the news because two Christchurch men, Duane Major and Adam Gard’ner are crowdfunding through Givealittle to buy the privately owned beach and give it to the government.

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says the beach will become part of the Abel Tasman National Park if the campaign to buy it succeeds.

“I have instructed Department of Conservation officials to formally talk to the campaigners about the legal details of making this beach a part of the Abel Tasman National Park,” Ms Barry says.

“This campaign has struck a deep vein of public support, with more than 11,000 backers so far, and it’s been encouraging to watch the Givealittle fund grow.

“I’m able to give an assurance that if it succeeds the land will be added to Abel Tasman National Park and free access secured for the public in perpetuity.”

“It is a testament to the deep and abiding love New Zealanders have for their natural heritage, and to see people raising money and wanting to be actively involved in what happens to our land is inspirational. I congratulate the organisers of the campaign and wish them all the best in their efforts.” 

She also said:

The Department of Conservation had considered buying the land after it was offered to them before it was advertised, but decided it was too expensive, said Barry.

“The Government doesn’t have untold resources to buy beaches and pieces of bush. Every budget is under pressure.”

She said they did not want to drive prices up at this stage either.

“Sometimes people can see huge dollar signs. So our presence might be an encouragement to people to think the price of this property will go through the roof.”

However due to the “depth and extent” of public interest, Barry said her conservation officials were looking at helping out. . .

So far so very good but then along comes Andrew Little who said the government should step in now and provide the rest of the money.

To the credit of those behind the campaign that isn’t their preferred option:

. . . Mr Major said that though central government contribution would be welcome, he would rather see the money raised entirely by the public.

“People could raise it sooner, actually, and that speed with which we can raise that money will make a huge difference to how we arrange a tender, and arrange a whole bunch of things.

“That would be Plan A and always was Plan A – just reviving that get up and go spirit.” . . 

Why is Labour’s default always taxpayers? Why isn’t he encouraging people to give, starting with his caucus, with taxpayers funding only a last resort?

Instead we have the stark difference – asking people to give voluntarily as those behind the campaign are and demanding we give compulsorily through our taxes as Little is.

Individuals and businesses giving a little with taxpayer top-up only if it’s needed is a far better way than Labour’s usual mode of taxpayers’ giving a lot.

P.S. I have put my money where my mouth is and donated.





Nothing wrong with slack packing


The Department of Conservation has come up with a couple of suggestions to help it earn money.

The first is to have visitors pay for loos and car parks which is stupid.

What would happen if someone’s caught short without any money, or with money and an objection to paying? They’re going to bypass the loo and pop behind a tree or tussock .

The potential for vandalism and theft would be high; collecting the cash and policing the loos and parks would distract DOC staff from other more important work and the costs would be higher than the revenue.

The second idea has a lot more merit – opening up concessions on DOC land to more private businesses.

Traditionally access to much of the conservation estate has been the hard way – backpacking in with all your supplies, roughing it in tramping huts with long drops and without showers.

But there is an alternative – slack packing, or flash packing. You pay quite a bit more but get a guide, good meals, comfortable beds and hot showers.

Director-general Al Morrison said attracting more businesses to work on the conservation estate was a priority for DOC this year, but did not mean national parks would be turned into theme parks. “This is not about Disneyland or Club Med in national parks.”

There were currently 4500 concession holders who paid DOC to run businesses on conservation land, ranging from whale-watching tours to guided walks.

The hair shirt brigades bristle at the idea. But conservation values and money making aren’t mutually exclusive, rather they have mutual benefits.

The businesses create jobs and provide services, they enable people who may not get far under their own steam to see more of our natural beauty and the money they pay DOC enables it to fund more conservation work.

We spent a couple of days at Awaroa Lodge in the Abel Tasman National Park last week. It’s a privately owned, four star wilderness lodge, nestled in to the bush with access by foot, air or sea.

All its supplies have to be shipped in and, a conditions of its concession requires all its rubbish to be shipped out.

Some guests had backpacked in, some had slack-packed (walked in but sent their  gear by water taxi) and others were flash-packers who’d come by plane, helicopter or boat.

Regardless of how we came and went, we were all paying to stay and some of that money went to DOC.

We had a wonderful experience, they got some money, what’s the problem with that?

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