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What does self containment really mean?

As more and more clubs and groups speak out about the failings of the self containment Standard for Motor Caravans also known as NZS;5465 we put pen to paper to point out what the standard actually is supposed to achieve, but often fails to do so.

The concerns are not just about the Standard itself but also its use by Councils and others to exclude the majority of New Zealander’s freedom campers from participating in that past time. It is widely considered that the continual promotion of the Standard by some organizations is to clear the public from Freedom Camping sites to give their own membership more / exclusive use.

That one organization in NZ calls the Standard “robust” while calling out for a regulatory body to oversee it, raises serious doubts as to what they really think or know. Certainly there has been considerable publicity about the failings over the past 18 months which have all gone un-addressed by them, while they acknowledge privately a Regulatory Authority is needed to address many issues of interpretation and conflict by the actual promoters of the standard.
The Government has failed to bow to their pressure to appoint a new regulatory Authority after several years of being asked. The Ministry for the Environment dropped the role in 2012. Some say it was due to lack of funding while others believe the real reason was the realization the Standard has actually achieved nothing or very little to Freedom Camping in what is now over 25 years of existence.

Responsible Campers Association Incorporated has written reports over these failings and the incorrect information often published on websites. Some of the websites are Government, Industry and clubs. That said information often goes uncorrected even once evidence is provided that they are incorrect is shocking and does nothing to ease the Freedom Camping problems often seen in New Zealand.

Some examples include a Government linked website of a camping application which states a shower is a requirement of the standard. Matters of personal hygiene are not and never have been, within the scope of the standard whose sole goal is to ensure the “ablutionary and sanitary needs of the occupants of the motor caravan or caravan are met for a minimum period of three days”.

Other issues include the failure to issue a certificate of self containment for reasons which are not even covered by the standard, examples of this include beds and seating which are again items not covered by the Standard. The only requirements which determine the capacity of a camper vehicle under the standard are the litre capacity of its tanks. For example the capacity of fresh and grey water tanks must be 12 litres per person per 3 days, so if you have 96 litres that would meet the requirement for 8 people. If you also achieve a toilet capacity of 3 litres per person for 3 days with a total of 24 liters you again meet the requirements for 8 people. It makes no difference whether this tankage is fitted to a small people mover type vehicle or a Motorbike - it is certifiable under the standard if other misc requirements are met. This relates to water seals ( S & P traps on waste pipes) and vents from tanks.

That a private organization has been allowed free access to the Standard to make amendments, has in itself lead to more contradictions and misunderstandings.
New Amendments released May 2017 say that the toilet must be use-able at all times even with the bed made up, but once camping a toilet tent or awning maybe used. The standard only applies when camping is happening !

Under the Standard (NZS;5465) and clearly stated at the bottom of page 5 is the following definition of “Self Containment”.
“SELF CONTAINMENT. The ability to meet the ablutionary and sanitary needs of the occupants of the motor caravan or caravan for a minimum period of three days without requiring any external services or discharging any waste”.
What is NOT mentioned in the Standard’s own definition of self containment is any requirement for “certification”.
Having watched a number of Council’s review their Freedom Camping Bylaws and the constant mentioning during those regulatory reviews of“self containment’ without mention of certification raises an interesting question - If the Council refers to Certified Self Containment during regulatory reviews as “Self Containment” can they then legally impose ‘self containment certification’ as a restriction on freedom camping sites? We believe they can not without a regulatory agreement (duly noted in the meetings minutes) to refer to “certified self containment” as simply “self containment” during any regulatory processes. We are yet to discover any such Meeting minutes.
In this respect it also creates another aspect where people. quite rightly, are able to challenge any Freedom Camping infringements issued over self containment.

Responsible Campers Association Incorporated are the promoters of
New Zealand’s only Responsible Campers Accreditation scheme,
designed to bring fairness to all who Freedom Camp in New Zealand, no matter the mode of camping or to which clubs they belong to.
The program uses education and a quiz to determine Responsible Campers.

Responsible Campers Association has become an Incorporated Society.
Our constitution demands we act for all kiwi campers in an unbiased manner.



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