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Plumbing A Public Poo Problem

There’s a small hole in current law which a responsible camping group wants plugged.

Often publicly blamed for fouling our natural environment, freedom campers and van travellers have been the target of a lot of poo-slinging lately.

Tourism Minister Stuart Nash wants to flush out the trouble makers with a major review of the Freedom Camping Act to require all vehicles have a fixed toilet in order to legally camp overnight on public land.

This smears a lot of responsible Kiwi campers with the same (toilet) brush, by broadly changing the Freedom Camping Act which covers every form of freedom camper whether they stay in a tent, a bus or 4x4 recreational vehicle. Nash’s law change proposal can only address a very narrow group of campervan travellers.

Responsible Campers Association suggests there is a simpler solution to focus on the issues around pooing in public, in line with decades of campaigns to protect the environment and keep NZ beautiful.

At present, anyone engaging in this unsanitary act can avoid a $200 fine if they ensure they are not seen, and genuinely believe they were out of the public eye.

Responsible Campers Association want the public defecation laws tightened and publicised, so that if someone is ‘caught short’ away from a public toilet, they know to bury their waste safely.

The Association has now lodged a petition to NZ Parliament to strengthen the criteria available to defend a prosecution for defecating in public. They will be calling on the Government to change the criteria available as a defence for fouling public land.

Their sensible call is to ensure that any pooping is at least 50 metres from waterways, and buried 15cms deep. This is currently accepted worldwide for public defecation in the outdoors, and is suggested by Department of Conservation as an option for dealing with human waste.

The call, made public last month, attracted worldwide media attention, when PM Jacinda Ardern, poo-pooed the idea as unnecessary.

The Government has spent millions of dollars in the past on Clean and Green destination branding, 100% Pure, ‘Be a Tidy Kiwi’ and Tiaki Promise campaigns to support our environmental responsibility, so it seems logical to clean up a law related to this small, unsavoury problem.

Responsible Campers Association members believe that education about public waste disposal for all visitors and local campers is key.

That is why they have created a useful camper accreditation programme which allows for members to pass a simple test which determines their understanding of how to responsibly contain all their water and waste and ensure that disposal is safe and environmentally friendly.

They also know that wider knowledge of how to manage waste when there’s no loo available, will be helpful for vital earthquake preparedness, as highlighted in recent reports from Wellington regional Civil Defence and Emergency Management.

Responsible Campers Association are aware that a number of Councils are in support of these simple changes suggested in their petition.

The petition is available at https://tinyurl.com/tesxc32p

Related stories:

Visitor to Dunedin poos in public street / freedom camper 2017



Tourism Minister Stuart Nash on tightening freedom camping laws



RECENT MEDIA COVERAGE on public defecation story





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