Discussions about the risks of losing the right to freedom camp and how to counter these.
 #101510  by NZMCA RMC
 Mon Oct 19, 2015 10:55 am
Morena everyone,

In relation to this proposal, NZMCA members are receiving updates and media releases from the FNDC purporting to support freedom camping and the intent of the FCA. We understand members are contemplating supporting this proposal. The NZMCA is following the issue very closely and I think it's important members understand the consequences of supporting the proposal as is. Given this is a public forum I'd like to make these comments without prejudice.

Whilst this may seem like a positive move by council, the reality is FNDC regulates freedom camping under three individual bylaws, which effectively prohibit freedom camping everywhere other than at 4 designated local authority areas (noting 1 of these areas has been closed by FNDC). And each of these designated areas permits a maximum 4 vehicles at any one time. This review, proposing 16 more areas, seeks to retain FNDC's designated sites approach, which the NZMCA firmly objects to.

Firstly, a designated sites approach is clearly inconsistent with the permissive intent and premise of the FCA. The council is intentionally avoiding the FCA route, and if their reasons are improper (which we suspect they are) then this proposal is unlawful.

Secondly, the latest officer reports to council confirm the Far North has no widespread issue with FC. In fact, it appears any issues are isolated to Paihia and Ramp Road (further north). On that basis we argue there is no need to maintain a district-wide prohibitive regime. Any review of their bylaws should consider whether or not it is appropriate to maintain a regime that regulates an activity in areas where problems don't exist.

Thirdly, we think their suite of bylaws has the substantive effect of a blanket ban, which is also unlawful. In the court case of NZMCA v TCDC, the judge noted that whether TCDC had unlawfully prohibited freedom camping in the district would depend on the cumulative effect of all of its bylaws regulating freedom camping, and whether, taken together, those bylaws amounted to an effective prohibition.

If you're preparing a submission I would suggest carefully considering how this proposal fits in with what the Assn is trying to achieve nationwide, i.e. nationally consistent bylaws in line with the intent of the FCA. I would also like to point out that local community groups and councillors approached us seeking motorhome friendly status. We have held very open and positive discussions with them and they know where the issues lie with the bylaws. They support a different approach than what is currently proposed, so it's a matter of constructively working through the hurdles.

 #101513  by idex
 Mon Oct 19, 2015 11:30 am
Thanks for the heads-up James. It's great to see that you've got an understanding of what FNDC appear to be up to and that NZMCA is looking after our interests. Keep up the good work!
 #101535  by Teardrop
 Mon Oct 19, 2015 3:47 pm
Thanks James, I had a quick look the other day and it seemed to me that FNDC was offering about 60 sites. Given that the membership of NZMCA probably has about 30,000 vans alone, then add in the rentals and other privates, you are probably looking at about one site for every 500-1000 vans out there. The problem is, what do you do when you arrive and the sites are full? Unless you have available back up sites close by, there is little point going there.

I think it is important that there is always the availability of more than one site in close proximity. Bruce L mentioned about 37 new NZMCA memberships on one weekend a few weeks ago, and then 36 more (I think) the following Monday. That number would fill up those FNDC sites alone. At that rate, we are losing ground fast - literally.

I agree totally we need to lose this concept of limiting numbers, and instead get defined ares where vans can stay. Big areas, or as many of them as possible.

 #101547  by Rosemary&Peter
 Mon Oct 19, 2015 7:23 pm
http://www.nzmotorhome.co.nz/NZMotorhom ... 370#p96642

John "Zukiwi" said...
Solutions? We need to develop a more clever approach to the politics of dealing with communities. The demanding and "entitled" attitudes I often see from motorhomers have to go. We have to accept that we are just a thread in the fabric of our country, not the warp and weft. That means accepting that if a community doesn't like the look of our vans and wagons intruding into their favourite view (I know, it's only at night) even though it's not a lawful reason for their council to prohibit or restrict us, sometimes we might just have to suck it up and stay somewhere else.
...and we concur.
 #101552  by petercw
 Mon Oct 19, 2015 8:14 pm
The problem I see with that argument is if we all pushed people out of our own districts then we would not be welcome in others and the whole thing would collapse..
Then there would be a whole lot of motorhomes for sale.. Cheap..
 #101554  by Teardrop
 Mon Oct 19, 2015 8:29 pm
Each community will probably have some who do not want freedom campers, and they tend to be the vocal ones. Take Anzac Bay in Western Bay of Plenty. The Council itself stated that the vast majority seem to have no objection to campers at Anzac Bay, but they still have to take into account the opinions of the minority who do not want it. Unfortunately, that majority don't see the need to voice an opinion, as they don't mind which way the final result goes. In some councils, the vocal minority may also have close contact with the Council - camp ground owners tend to feature quite often here it seems. So establishing whether the community wants freedom campers is not as simple as it sounds. It becomes political.

We are entitled to a fair hearing, and we are entitled to a fair run of our own country. The law gives us that right, so it is not a wayward sense of entitlement. We will always have some who will try and ruin it for the rest, and this happens on both sides of the discussion. Councils will be aware of that. You can go on and on about the negatives and not achieve anything. If we do not push back and try to get at least a fair go, then there is no future for freedom camping in New Zealand. It is important we get some balance. I do not think that exists in Northland at the moment, and I do not think the proposed changes give it that.

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