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August 2013 Issue
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Pigeon Post, August 2013

Letter of the month

Volunteers have much to contribute

I agree with the general thrust of what DOC programme managers Jones and Wilson had to say in the article ‘Voices from the Cold’ (May, 2013), but take issue with the tenor of Jones’ comments about the worth of volunteer groups.

While the increased use of volunteers is not the answer and is not a ‘free ride’, the evidence would indicate volunteers have more than a ‘very limited role’ in biodiversity work. Over the past 25 years, I have accessed, through various conservation groups, millions of dollars’ worth of cash, volunteer time, and specialist expertise for projects on the DOC estate.

I am not unique. There are many like me and it is ironic that in the same issue Tiritiri Matangi Island was featured.

I have to say that DOC is not well set up to get the most out of volunteers like me. I also think the new double-headed structure, with technical experts in national office, will only make it more difficult for the department to work effectively and productively with the community. I hope I’m wrong.

– Colin Ryder, Wellington

Our letter of the month correspondent receives a Steripen Ultra worth $199.95 courtesy of Send your letter to for a chance to win.

Gutting DOC

I’m a Kiwi living in Australia currently studying conservation and land management.

I was appalled to read about the restructure of DOC in the May issue. We are undergoing similar ‘restructure’ here with the Department of Sustainability and Environment as well as Parks Victoria both making the flora and fauna specialists in DSE redundant, and reducing the quantity of professionals hired.

The government here also just released authorisation for organisations to build on national parks in Victoria. Appalling!

I always thought the New Zealand government’s respect for nature and conservation was higher than Australia’s, especially considering how important conservation is for the tourism industry. People go to New Zealand to experience the beauty and wonder of nature at its best. Now what will happen to it?

– Tamara Keyte, Victoria, Australia

Hut fees

I fully support paying hut fees (Why we should pay hut fees, June 2013). However, I would like to add a few more comments.

The requirement to book huts leads to a loss of spontaneity in tramping. One of the main attractions of tramping for me is getting away from the usual society norm of being pre-planned and organised in everything we do. I enjoy going with a vague plan but not having an exact route mapped out.

Also, huts are a safe refuge in a storm. No one should ever be penalised financially for making a sound and safe decision; going to an unbooked hut in adverse weather conditions. I would like to recommend no more booking and no extra fees for going to a hut you haven’t booked.

I would like the annual hut pass to be extended to road-end campsites. It’s an anomaly that my annual pass entitles me to stay in many hundreds of huts, but if I erect my tent at a campsite where there is no hut, for example Holdsworth and Kiriwhakapapa in the Tararua or Mangahuia near Ruapehu, I am required to pay.

– Brian Pickering, Lower Hutt

Minister correct man for important decision

Wynston Cooper objects to the Minister of Conservation taking over the decision-making regarding the monorail and Milford-Dart tunnel proposals (Pigeon Post, June 2013).

The proposals were already political due to the amount of public interest generated. Elevating the decision to Ministerial level is more democratic than having a Director-General of a government department make such an important decision, especially as DOC is under pressure with downsizing and under-funding.

In my view, the monorail is a non-starter and any tunnel and road which are not accessible to private motorists should not be built in a national park. If they are to be built, work should be contracted by the government and be part of the national road network. Perhaps the cost could be offset by charging a toll for a number of years.

One wonders what the reaction would be if the Homer Tunnel and road into Milford Sound had not been built all those years ago and instead were proposed today.

– Graeme Croy, email

Missing track on the Huiarau Range

On a flight from Tauranga to Wellington, I took the July issue of Wilderness to help pass the time. After starting on the letters page, the bloke beside me commented on my interest in the outdoors. It turned out that he too was a keen tramper. Reading Wilderness gave way to an hour of sharing our adventures.

Reliving adventures and finding out about routes yet to discover is a small, but significant pleasure in life.

Te Urewera (Wild Range, July 2013) is on my back doorstep and as a keen tramper and hunter, well-known to me, so I was interested in the map of the Huiarau Range. I wonder why the track across the Pukekohu Range and Te Waiotukapati Hut, lower down the Waiau River is missing from your map? I suspect it is because a severe weather event eight or so years ago brought down trees across the track.

I have written several times to ask about the track, but I get fobbed off with excuses about lack of funds and that they’ll work on it next year. Finding the route is not difficult for an experienced bush person, but it would be helpful if it was given an upgrade.

Lastly, good on Antony Pettinger from the Otago Tramping Club (Walkshorts, July 2013). Pettinger’s focus for the club on hard core multi-day tramps without tracks and huts is commendable. It solves the issues of over-zealous DOC wardens, too!

– Ruth McIntosh, Whakatane

– The track was not included because it wasn’t one of the features of the range we chose to highlight in the text. – AH

Potton exaggerates Denniston destruction

I was somewhat disappointed with the comment by Craig Potton about the Denniston Plateau (‘Potton’s conservation work recognised’, July 2013).

Having been to the plateau many times, the statement ‘We have already knocked over half of it’ is grossly misleading and non-factual. In fact, the original workings only cover a very small area.

The proposed Bathurst mine application is for 106ha from an area of 2026ha. I dislike being critical, but it is an unbalanced statement which brings a distorted view to many people.

Overall I enjoy Wilderness, but it should be balanced with factual information.

– A J Lemm, email