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PANZ does not want access onto private land

Public Access New Zealand INCORPORATED R D 1 Omakau 9182 Central Otago New Zealand

Tuesday, 28 January 2003

News Media Release

PANZ does not want access onto private land

Public Access New Zealand refutes an allegation that "PANZ would leap at a chance to carry a warrant which allows them absolute entry to private land". This was made by ACT MP Gerry Eckhoff. He was speculating that Government will introduce a Public Access to Private Land Bill this parliamentary term.

PANZ believes that Government has no mandate for looking at public access onto private rural land, as some kind of general right to wander at will. There has been no call for this from national recreation groups. It would be highly invasive and confiscatory of private property rights.

PANZ spokesman Bruce Mason said that PANZ's objects are confined to protecting and enhancing public access to public lands and waters.

PANZ recognises a distinction between private and public land, and the different property interests these entail. The public does not have a right of recreation over private land, and cannot expect such. PANZ also does not seek such rights, preferring a healthy provision of public lands and rights of way for public needs.

ACT's confusion between public and private seems borne of an earnest desire that there should not be any public lands. This vision is not shared by the vast majority of New Zealanders.

Long and bitter experience has shown that only public lands provide a measure of certainty and security of access for the public. Mechanisms such as covenants and easements over private land have demonstrated that when an uncooperative landowner wishes, such agreements are not worth the paper they are written on. The public is entirely dependent on local or central government agencies to uphold the public interest. Unfortunately most do not, or have to be bludgeoned into action.

PANZ believes that Government efforts should be confined to access to the foreshore, lakes and along rivers, and to public land through private land via roads and public paths. That is where the priority is, along with dealing with rampant obstruction of roads by private interests. These are the biggest access issues needing Government attention.

Public Access New Zealand is a charitable trust formed in 1992. Objects are the preservation and improvement of public access to public lands and waters, through retention in public ownership of resources of value for recreation. PANZ is supported by a diverse range of land, freshwater, marine, and conservation groups and individuals. Visit www.publicaccessnewzealand.org for more information.

END

Bruce Mason PANZ Researcher & Co-Spokesman (03) 447 3554 (025) 358 311 panz@es.co.nz

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