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Public Locked Out of New Kapiti Island Permits

1 February 2005

Public Being Locked Out of New Kapiti Island Permits

"Kapiti Island Watching Interest (KIWI) is aghast that the public is being locked out of the new permit system to Kapiti Island's North End", KIWI president Dr Hugh Barr said on Radio New Zealand's "Nine to Noon" today. "What the Department of Conservation is not emphasising is that the homestay on the private land will have a monopoly for its guests to visit the North End public land. It is outrageous that a public department is closing off public land to the public to set up a private monopoly".

At present, the public has access to the North End public land through the normal permits via the Nature Reserve. "This will stop with the new permits, giving a complete monopoly to the Homestay until, or if, the Department decides to allow independent members of the public to access the North End, and provides facilities for them", Dr Barr said.

Other options are available to allow the public access from the start of the new permits" Dr Barr said. "The present access from the Nature Reserve could continue. Or the Department could provide temporary toilet and shelter facilities immediately" Dr Barr said. "Alternatively the Department could have negotiated toilet facilities for the public via the homestay, seeing they are the main beneficiaries from the Department's unplanned rush to open the North End".

"This untenable situation reflects the Department's priorities of assisting tourism ahead of the public interest. The Department has been talking about public access to the North End for almost three years. But it has done nothing in that time to provide public facilities, or a ranger presence there. The Department should explain its lack of action and planning".

"By locking the public out, the Department reduces monitoring of the Kapiti North End. Major poaching of undersize paua has taken place there in the past. Unauthorised visitors from the private land treat the area as their own, in spite of it having been public land requiring permits for the last 40 years", Dr Barr said. "Even DOC admitted today on National Radio's "Nine to Noon" that this unauthorised trespass takes place. Yet it has no surveillance program to stop it. This puts the sanctuary value of the whole island at risk".


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