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Outcome Of DOC Review Of Media Permits

The Department of Conservation has decided that media should have the same access to conservation land that the public enjoy, and media will no longer need to apply for a media permit.

DOC’s Deputy Director General Operations, Michael Slater says the requirement for permits is waived on the basis that the media activity is low impact in areas where the general public is allowed free access.

The new approach covers media activity that:

  • Is using public tracks, using standard media tools (excluding drones) and abiding by the guidelines provided by Te Papa Atawhai
  • the public conservation land is identified as a place that the general public can access freely
  • is not a wāhi tapu and known site of significance to tangata whenua that has public access restrictions

“A review has found the rules around media permits were not fit for purpose given the advent of digital tools like mobile phones where visitors are curating their own experiences and sharing them on various web platforms. It also found the process for acquiring consent for the media was overly bureaucratic and unworkable for both the media and DOC staff.

“The Conservation Act requires any trade, business or occupation on conservation land to have a concession, but media representatives strongly argued they are acting in the public interest and should be free to go anywhere the general public can go.

“DOC agrees and has changed its policy to treat media access as if they are the public, freely accessing public conservation land.

“That means media no longer require media permits in low impact situations where the public are allowed free access.

“However, if media want to access wilderness areas that are closed to the public or fly drones on conservation land, they will need to seek permission in the same way as the general public does.

“We’re also exploring options to review the legislation to more clearly take account of the media’s role.

“We are asking media to respect wāhi tapu and known sites of significance to tangata whenua and encourage them to work more closely with tangata whenua: iwi, hapū and whānau to understand their point of view when telling stories that are important to them.

“The review found that in some cases, the tight timeframes expected by the media meant engagement with iwi over media access could not be achieved. DOC will be engaging tangata whenua more generally about these sorts of issues to make sure our engagement is meaningful and well understood.

“We recognise that the media are professionals, bound by their own standards and ethics,” says Michael Slater.

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