Thank you for opportunity to comment on the development of the draft Te Kawa o Te Urewera plan.
Federated Mountain Clubs if the national body of mountain recreation clubs. We have affiliated clubs throughout the country, the bulk of which are tramping and mountaineering clubs. The activities undertaken by members are wider than this and include activities such a canoeing (with the club based in Gisborne being the Gisborne Canoe and Tramping Club for example), photography, rafting, hunting and so on.
The Federation has welcomed the changes to Te Urewera and we are supportive of Te Urewera being its own legal identity. Such an approach seems to us to better reflect the relationship of tangata whenua and others who make up the manuhiri of Te Urewera with the land and heritage of Te Urewera. Our President and others on the Executive have met with people on your Board to express this support and show our keenness to work within the framework.
Te Urewera has many unique values that are valued by our members. The hills and valleys contain many treasures, many of which only become apparent when particular localities are visited. The vegetation is varied and profuse. Birds and other animals are also integral to the overall value of Te Urewera. The rivers, waterfalls and lakes are unparalleled. Te Urewera combines these and mist and other weather into a living whole. The historical and social connections of humans to the area is also a key element of Te Urewera. All of this is core to our relationship with the Te Urewera and our recreation in it. Te Urewera should be somewhere where people interact with the environment and absorb its special social, natural and spiritual atmosphere. We want to avoid the Te Urewera experience being overly commercial, where visits are fleeting and the visitor is isolated (effectively in a bubble) from the environment.
Although Te Urewera is an entity of itself, its health is dependent to a degree on maintaining and enhancing the ecological linkages with surrounding areas. These cross boundary issues will be a challenge in some places.
The Statement of priorities captures both the intent of Te Kawa o Te Urewera and the legislation. We consider these to be the basis of the framework and they cover what should be the priorities for plan.
The key to the management of recreation in Te Urewera is enabling access and to avoiding over-development. The risks are that either sections of the community get priced out of access or that development destroys what is the essence of Te Urewera. Development and use needs to be in harmony with the values of Te Urewera. Our reading of the Statement of Priorities indicates that you are aware of these issues.
The Waikaremoana walk and Lake Waikareiti are the most well-known recreational jewels. We would like these to remain as essentially natural experiences.
We are pleased that the row boats on Lake Waikareiti are now available to be public again. The loss of these in 2014 seemed to us to be an unnecessary kneejerk response to one incident and your current management response is much more appropriate. The experience of rowing a boat on the lake is unique and very different from walking around Lake Waikareiti. The retention of Lake Waikareiti as a lake without motorised craft is supported. The quiet there now is very much in keeping with natural and spiritual value of the lake.
The valleys and hills in the northern and western parts of Te Urewera off a wonderful range of experiences for trampers, fishers, hunters and others. The current network of tracks and huts are a key part of enabling this. FMC is working to increase clubs’ and our members’ involvement in maintaining these. We hope that this can be something that we can harness to work with you in management of Te Urewera.
The current standards used by DoC for huts and tracks seem to us to be unnecessarily rigid, especially in regard to simple, basic huts and tracks. The standards seem to be set in the context of guest houses in climates more like those found in the South Island high country. We think that you look at something more in keeping with nature and Te Urewera. Bridges, of course, do need to be engineered so they are safe.
The Ruatikuri Wilderness provides different recreational experience, and people here must be more self-reliant. Natural values are more dominant here.
We are keen to assist in working with our members to ensure that our manuhiri act responsibly and help foster the relationships and values that are articulated in the plan. There has been marked changes in what people do in natural areas over the years. This ranges from simple things such as minimum impact codes and carrying out rubbish to better appreciation of natural and spiritual values.
In developing the plan we would suggest that it be brief and that it outline the main management activities. It should be clear from the plan what management will be doing and what broad rules will apply.
We are happy to be of assistance to you in developing the framework plan. If there are any issues that you want to discuss with us or if we can help in the drafting in any way please contact us. We look forward to working with you on this.
Executive Member for FMC