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Clayton Cosgrove Speech on Sir Edmund

Clayton Cosgrove Speech to open the 2008 International Outdoor Recreation and Education Conference
Venue: Lincoln University, Canterbury
Time: 9:00am, Monday 21 January 2008

Good morning and welcome.

It is my pleasure to be here with you this morning and to get the first ever International Outdoor Recreation and Education Conference to be held in New Zealand underway.

A special welcome to all of our international visitors and presenters, in particular, I extend a warm welcome Dr Alan Ewart, keynote speaker and highly experienced outdoor recreation and education leader from Indiana University in the United States.

I am sure that we will all benefit from your expertise and your contribution during the next four days. I would also like to acknowledge Hon. Noel Scott, Chairman of Outdoors New Zealand and former Minister for Sport and Recreation for New Zealand, and Laura Adams, Chief Executive of Outdoors New Zealand and conference convener.

No doubt the hours that you and your team have committed to making this conference a success will be rewarded by robust discussion and engagement in the workshops and seminars over the course of the conference.

New Zealand is synonymous with the outdoors and adventure. Its geography provides a wonderful playground for a raft of outdoor activities that attract both domestic and international adventurers and many of our most iconic Kiwis have been outdoors people.

One in particular has been front-of-mind in the past week and I believe this International Outdoor Recreation and Education Conference provides a fitting and appropriate platform to pay tribute to the extraordinary life of Sir Edmund Hillary.

I note that the Chief Executive of the Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre, Grant Davidson, is also here today.

Much has been written and spoken about Sir Edmund Hillary since news of his death.

Words used to describe him have included colossus, heroic, determined, generous, craggy, down-to-earth, laconic, unassuming, tough, the quintessential Kiwi.

Sir Ed was all of these things and more.

We have lost a unique and wonderful New Zealander, adventurer and humanitarian; one of our greatest sportsmen and greatest statesmen.

Sir Edmund Hillary was known around the world. Within hours, news of his death had circulated around the globe, and internet tributes were being posted world wide.

It was his adventure and sporting pursuits, most obviously the conquering of Mt Everest in 1953, that brought him worldwide fame, but it was his down-to-earth personality that earned him the love and respect of a nation.

Of all his achievements, perhaps his greatest was simply being the ultimate Kiwi, in the best sense of that word.

His legacy will not only be determined by all that he achieved during his lifetime but also by how we take up the baton and carry on the things that were important to him.

This conference is the perfect opportunity to start considering these things.

From his adventurous spirit to his compassionate nature; his dedication to the cause and his determination to succeed – there is plenty of inspiration to be taken from Sir Edmund Hillary’s life that is directly relevant to the issues you will be discussing over the coming days.

This conference is about ensuring that New Zealanders continue to value what the outdoor experience has to offer, not just in terms of health and wellbeing or in a commercial sense, but also for the sheer fun, adventure and challenge inherent in all outdoor recreation activities.

Because outdoor recreation can create a wide range of benefits to participants, communities and the country as a whole, the Labour-led government has committed to actions that will help to foster recreation in New Zealand.

And because outdoor recreation is such a defining part of this country’s identity, we recognise the importance of taking a cross-sector approach to ensuring that we are making the most of what is essentially one of New Zealand’s key assets – the great outdoors.

So, for example, we are ensuring that we have an education sector that values and provides quality opportunities for education outside the classroom.

The Ministry of Education fosters outdoor recreation with the assistance of an Education Outside the Classroom (EOTC) Sector Reference Group.

This group has been active in gathering vital information that describes the benefits, barriers and enablers of education outside the classroom to improve the quality of such programmes in schools.

This is important work - for some New Zealanders this can be their first introduction to outdoor recreation leading to lifelong participation, while for others it might be their only exposure to the outdoors during their childhood.

Access to places to recreate is another important issue that the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry have been working on since 2003.

This significant piece of work has resulted in the establishment in October last year of a Walking Access Advisory Board whose role is to provide advice to the government on matters such as the public’s requirements and priorities for walking access and the establishment of a new walking access organisation.

These changes will bring benefits such as access to new walkway mapping information, improved signage and a clear process for negotiating future access issues.

The Department of Conservation has been particularly active in working to foster recreation on conservation land.

Among the many changes introduced by the Department of Conservation have been:

the removal of hut and campsite fees on the Great Walks for those under 18 years of age; the purchase of land to create 100 new campsites to preserve the Kiwi camping tradition; the creation of the Hakatere Conservation Park in the Ashburton Lakes area providing not only spectacular scenery but a vast range of recreational opportunities; and more recently, trialling access for mountain bikes in the Poulter Valley in Arthur’s Pass National Park.

The Department of Conservation hosted the Recreation Summit in 2006, which provided an opportunity for the diverse range of interested groups to come together and describe a future for recreation in New Zealand.

In response to one of the key recommendations from the Summit, the government’s agency Sport and Recreation New Zealand (SPARC) has led a review of outdoor recreation in New Zealand, in partnership with the Department of Conservation, and with a vast amount of input from sector groups.

Since taking over this portfolio late last year SPARC officials have advised me of the next steps in the review process and I am currently considering these.

I appreciate the contributions that many of you have made to this review.

Your experience at the coalface is invaluable in ensuring that we are moving in the right direction with our outdoor recreation sector.

While much is happening, more can be done.

I hope the meeting of minds and the sharing of knowledge that this conference will provide is firmly embraced and that your discussions and debates are productive.

I look forward to hearing of the outcomes.

Thank you.


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