Access: A Way Forward
23 June 2005
Access: A Way
Federated Farmers today launched an initiative which should solve the impasse between farmers and the government over land access.
The federation launched its Visitor Access Protocol to assist land owners manage visitors who want to access private land, and clarify the responsibilities of both owners and visitors.
"This protocol is important as it offers the government and land owners a way to work together on improving access," said John Aspinall, the federation's spokesman on land access.
The protocol was launched as the federation and supporters presented a petition with approximately 29,000 signatures to Parliament. The petition has spent the past week travelling on four 'road trains' throughout New Zealand.
"We hope this protocol marks a new era in relations between farmers and recreationalists. Farmers have said they want to retain the status quo, while the government wants to use the heavy hand of legislation to allow free access over private land along waterways. The access protocol could be described as a 'Third Way' forward, and should be taken seriously.
"We ask the Minister of Agriculture to work with farmers and recreationalists on further developing this 'Third Way'," Mr Aspinall said.
The launch of the protocol and presentation of the petition marked the end of a week long protest, dubbed Action Orange. Farmers up and down the country have been protesting against the theft of their property rights, and the heightened dangers to their families and businesses from legislated "right-to-roam" along waterways. A significant number of farmers closed their gates to visitors and tied an orange ribbon around those gates as a sign of solidarity against the reforms.
"After our very successful protest, the Visitor Access Protocol reopens farm gates to public access, but on terms which are best for both land owners and visitors," he said.
The protocol clearly sets out the understanding between land owners/managers and visitors. It also sets a benchmark of expectation on both parties.
It is available as a duplicate pad -- a copy for
the visitor, a copy for the landowner. There are 50 in each
pad. These will be made available to members of Federated
The federation has also printed more than 80,000 "ASK FOR ACCESS" stickers for farm gates.
The most important part of the protocol is the logo which says: ASK FOR ACCESS".
But the protocol also places obligations on land owners.
"They must explain the implications of possible hazards, such as unstable structures and aggressive animals, or the location of poison baits. Landowners may provide alternative routes if they are appropriate, and we urge them to give reasons to explain why if access is declined," Mr Aspinall said.
To see the protocol, or for more information on Action Orange, go to www.fedfarm.org.nz