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Mates rates for road to nowhere

Nick Smith National Conservation Spokesperson

10 May 2001

Mates rates for road to nowhere

"Using $330,000 of Conservation funds to rebuild the road to nowhere is a mates-rates deal for Tama Iti and an abuse of powers by the Minister of Conservation," National's Conservation Spokesperson Nick Smith said today.

"This road was not built by DOC and is used principally to service private land. Only last year both the East Coast Conservation Board and Department said it was of 'low use for public access' and advised it be closed when no longer safe.

"The only explanation for this about-face decision to repair the road is the Minister's interference arising from her friendship with Mr Tama Iti. The Minister is treating the Conservation Department as a personal fiefdom in which her friends get preferential treatment over others.

"The Department has closed hundreds of kilometres of ex-forestry roads that are no longer safe. No explanation has been given as to why the Maungapohatu road should be any exception.

"In cases where roads access private land, those owners have been asked to contribute to the construction and maintenance costs. It is a double standard that the Maori owners, including Tama Iti, have not been asked to contribute a penny to the cost of repairing or maintaining this road.

"National simply asks for consistency and transparency. The Department stated last year the road did not meet the VAMS (Visitor Asset Management System) criteria for funding. The Minister must explain how this policy has changed and what other roads will now also be funded," Dr Smith said.

Ends

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