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High aspirations for new agency on walking access

New Zealand Walking Access Commission
c/- PO Box 2526

29 October 2008

High aspirations for new Crown agency on walking access

The newly-appointed Chair of the New Zealand Walking Access Commission says he has high aspirations for the agency and its ability to enhance New Zealanders’ enjoyment of the outdoors through the Walking Access Act, passed by Parliament on 25 September.

``The Walking Access Act will allow New Zealanders to take full advantage of the country’s unique natural environment,’’ said new Chair, John Acland, previously Chair of the Walking Access Advisory Board, the Land Access Ministerial Reference Group and the Walking Access Consultation Panel.

``I am very pleased to be offered the role of Chair of the Walking Access Commission. I have high aspirations for what the Commission will be able to achieve in partnership with rural landowners, the Department of Conservation, local government and users of recreational access.’’

The objective of the Commission is to lead and support the negotiation, establishment, maintenance, and improvement of walking access, as well as types of access that may be associated with walking access, such as access with firearms, dogs, bicycles, or motor vehicles.

``I am looking forward to working with the other members of the Commission, who were announced by Rural Affairs Minister, Damien O’Connor recently. The members bring a wide range of skills and experience, including strong links with the rural community and an understanding of the importance of preserving and enhancing New Zealanders’ appreciation and enjoyment of walking access across our wonderful country.’’

The Commission will provide an important central point for the coordination of walking access. Key tasks will be to develop a national strategy for walking access that reflects and balances the needs of private landowners and the public.

``The Commission will lay the groundwork for the negotiation of new walking access and the improvement of existing walking access that will benefit all New Zealanders in years to come,’’ said Mr Acland.

The Commission has also been tasked with developing a Code of Responsible Conduct for guidance on the use of walkways, compiling maps and improving public information about walking access, and facilitating the resolution of disputes relating to walking access. See www.walkingaccess.org.nz for more information.


Notes to Editor

The Chair and Board members of the Commission
Newly-appointed Chair John Acland is a retired high country farmer from South Canterbury who has long-term involvement with the rural community. He has wide experience as chairperson for a number of companies and community trusts. He has been Chair of the Land Access Ministerial Reference Group, the Walking Access Consultation Panel and the Walking Access Advisory Board, and is currently Chair of the Historic Places Trust.

The other board members are: Brian Stephenson, Peter Brown, Kay Booth, John Aspinall, Maggie Bayfield, John Forbes, and Barbara Stuart.

Functions of the Walking Access Commission

(1) In meeting its objective under Section 9, the Commission has the following functions:
(a) providing national leadership on walking access by—
(i) preparing and administering a national strategy; and
(ii) co-ordinating walking access among relevant stakeholders and central and local government organisations, including Sport and Recreation New Zealand;
(b) providing local and regional leadership on, and co-ordination of, walking access in collaboration with local authorities;
(c) compiling, holding, and publishing maps and information about land over which members of the public have walking access;
(d) providing advice on walking access to the Minister or any other person;
(e) facilitating resolution of disputes about walking access, including initiating negotiations about disputed issues, mediating disputes, and referring disputes to a court, tribunal, or other dispute resolution body;
(f) negotiating with landholders to obtain walking access (including walkways, which are one form of walking access) over public or private land;
(g) negotiating rights in addition to any walking access that is obtained, such as the right of access with firearms, dogs, bicycles, or motor vehicles;
(h) administering a fund to finance the activities of the Commission, or any other person, in obtaining, developing, improving, maintaining, administering, and signposting walking access over any land;
(i) receiving and managing private funding, contributions, or sponsorship for the promotion of walking access;
(j) researching, educating the public about, and participating in topics and programmes related to walking access;
(k) developing, promoting, and maintaining the code of responsible conduct;
(l) administering walkways under this Act, with planning and supervision focused at a local level;
(m) monitoring the compliance with, and enforcement of, this Act in relation to walkways.
(2) If the Commission is aware that a site is culturally sensitive, it must consider whether it is appropriate to publish a map or information indicating the location of the site before doing so.

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