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Call for more submissions on walking access to land

More than 180 submissions on the Land Access Ministerial Reference Group's report have been received so far, Rural Affairs Minister Jim Sutton said today.

However, Mr Sutton said the issues covered in the report were important ones, and he encouraged interested people to get submissions in by the end of the month.

There was a common belief by most New Zealanders is that the Queen's Chain gave the legal right to access rivers, lakes and the sea, Mr Sutton said.

"The reality is that there are many wilderness areas and parts of rivers and the seashore that people cannot get access to because of the ad hoc legal situation around the country. Consultation so far has shown that there are many varying views throughout New Zealand about how we can address this problem."

The consultation process sought public feedback on proposals to clarify and enhance the legal situation relating to public walking access over private land, along riverbanks and the foreshores of lakes and the sea.

More than 50 meetings were held around New Zealand following the release of the report, led by former group members John Acland and Claire Mulcock.

All submissions will be consolidated into a report back to government early next year.

The consultation on walking access to land will close at the end of this month, although Mr Sutton said late submissions would be considered. The submission analysis process would, however, need to begin in early December if the report back time is to be met.

The group found that the current law and institutional arrangements were inadequate to meet public expectations for access in today's society. It found that there is a lack of clarity and a gap between expectations and understanding of those seeking access and those providing access to recreational areas - particularly where it involves crossing private land.

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