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Carter criticises farmer’s protest

8 March 2005

Carter criticises farmer’s protest

Conservation Minister Chris Carter says that a local farmer who is blocking the Ahuriri Road to the new Ahuriri Conservation Park is closing off public right of access to one of New Zealand’s top locations for trout fishing, hunting and tramping.

Speaking in Quailburn today at the official opening of the new park, Mr Carter said he was taking legal advice on the status of the Ahuriri Road before deciding what action to take.

“Peter Patterson’s actions in blocking this road today are petty and selfish. He appears intent on locking out the public from an area legally purchased last year by the Government, and maintaining a private fiefdom in one of the most spectacular landscapes of New Zealand,” Mr Carter said.

“In my experience high country farmers are sensible, decent people, and I am confident that most would not support one of their number blocking public access to what is clearly public land in the Ahuriri Conservation Park.”

“I see no difference between this action and any other type of land occupation that occurs from time to time around New Zealand. Once the legal position of the Crown is established in this case, the public’s right of access will be enforced.

“Mr Patterson’s claim that he is protesting the Department of Conservation’s decision to close a gate at the upper end of the Ahuriri Valley to 4WDs is spurious,” Mr Carter said.

“The gate at the upper end of the Ahuriri Valley is not about shutting people out, quite the opposite, it is about managing the rights of different types of park users.

“The reality is 4WDs impact significantly on other people’s enjoyment of natural areas. In recognition of that fact, DOC has created an area inside the Ahuriri Conservation Park where 4WDs can go and an area where they can’t go. We are managing the area for everyone, everywhere, not an exclusive few.”

Mr Carter said anyone walking, biking or horse riding could proceed beyond the gate located 11km inside the park, it was only vehicle access that was restricted.

“It is sad that Mr Patterson has taken his action on the eve of the opening of the new Ahuriri Conservation Park,” Mr Carter said.

“Today should have been a celebration of the permanent protection of one of the most valuable and spectacular landscapes in New Zealand. Instead it has been marred by a petty, selfish protest.”

ENDS


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