Maungarau  loss of the hut                 

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This page is left in this website in the hopes that one day DoC may right the injustice done to the users of this area.

This email of a press release was sent to this web site from Nick Smith, MP, National Party. Nick was the Minister of Conservation when the R19 User Group first attempted to replace Maungarau free of charge to DoC. DoC Whanganui said "no, it will not happen." After appealing to Nick, it happened!

National backs Whanganui Tramping club over Mangarau Hut

"DoCís plans to remove the Mangarau Hut in the Whanganui National Park will be shelved if National is elected Government on 17 September," Outdoor Recreation spokesperson Nick Smith announced today in Whanganui with candidate Chester Borrows.

"There is outrage, not just in Whanganui, but in areas as far afield as Nelson and Hawkes Bay over DoC forcing this hut to be removed. Mr Chester Borrows has made a strong case to me that it should stay and today I am making that commitment on behalf of National.

"Labour does not understand the value of these back country huts to outdoor recreation enthusiasts. It is going to cost $10,000 to remove this hut, which was only built with my consent as Minister in 1997. It is economic lunacy and a breach of faith with the Whanganui Tramping Club that built the hut in good faith.

"It is a sign of how arrogant Labour has become in that they have ignored the 75 submissions made to DoC opposing its proposals to have the hut removed. It is also a telling commentary on how out of touch Jill Pettis has become in that she has ignored the views of local people who want the hut maintained.

"The area of Park that is serviced by this hut exceeds the total area of the Taranaki/Mt Egmont National Park and will effectively become inaccessible if it is removed. It is almost as though the Government has added people to its list of pests and wants to exclude them from some of our great natural areas.

"If there are compliance issues with the hut, they need to be dealt with in a common sense way. Estimates that it will cost $6,000 to bring it to standard are less than what has been budgeted to remove it. National would want to work with the Whanganui Tramping Club to ensure any standards are practical for a back country hut. It is not going to be, and never was intended, to be the Whanganui Park Hilton.

"The issue over this hut highlights the difference between Labourís bureaucratic and ideological approach to conservation issues and the practical common sense perspective that National would bring," concluded Nick Smith

Ends
Inquiries: Nick Smith (027 547 2314) Chester Borrows (021 722 636)Th

 

The Wanganui DoC consultation process for Maungarau

Hut users

DoC

1.  A hut of some kind has been at Maungarau for many decades.
A new hut was erected by persons unknown, sheathed in plastic with a fire inside
 Hut deemed too dangerous and removed by DoC.
2. Users demand a replacement hut Doc says no
3. Users offer to fund and build new hut Doc says no
4. Users approach Minister of Conservation who agrees to the building of a new hut. Some funding from Powerco Trust with search and rescue strategy in mind. We can only guess!
5. Jan 1997 building consent issued Feb 1997 Doc report to Conservation board says proposed hut will have 4 bunks constructed inside
6. Hut funded and built by public. Carpenter present from floor level up. Some minor building errors made. Doc demands removal of the hut because it is not up to standard.
7. Users approach Minister of Conservation to retain hut resulting in an unbiased inspection onsite from Wanganui District Council. Code of compliance given at end of 1998 after some screw in anchors specified by the inspector were fitted. 15 year code of compliance given because piles were H4 treated, not H5. After 15 years, the hut must be reinspected to check the status of these piles. Hut had bunks at this inspection.  
8. In 2000 the hut was inspected onsite again, this time by Pynenburg and Collins Architects Ltd, Wellington - initiated by Doc who claim the site is windy. (Check the photos!) Hut deemed structurally sound except for one substandard pile (valued at $350).
9. As part of the Recreation Review Opportunities 2003/4 Doc propose to remove Maungarau hut, its feeder hut Pokeka, and all tracks to and from it.
10. 75 out of 76 submitters did not support DoC's proposal to remove Maungarau Hut, 100% were against closing Pokeka track, 57 of 58 were against removal of Pokeka Hut.  
11. Because of this overwhelming disagreement with Doc proposals, Doc instead propose to remove the huts but retain the tracks "without maintenance"
12.

Maungarau's view

Another "inspection" done without visiting the hut, by a Doc Inspector. Wind loading now changed to "very high" so screw in anchors accepted by first inspector are now not good enough, the wire isn't taut enough (decided from a photo?). By changing the wind danger to 'Very high" he finds the hut unsafe - does not acknowledge (know?) the hut is lined with half inch ply. Does not acknowledge (know?) that the particle floorboards that he says have limited durability are sealed on both sides.
13. March 2004 (AFTER submissions have closed) Doc tells Wanganui District Council the hut has bunks which were not in the original plan (see point 5 and 7) and expect them to do something about it.
14. The discussion part of this statement was done "in committee" at the Conservation Board meeting. Conservation Board informed that Maungarau Hut is no longer part of the submission process because it is unsafe and must be removed.
15.    75 out of 76 people who made submissions to retain Maungarau wonder why they bothered.  
16.     Common sense prevails, but removal of the hut is still a slap in the face for the builders, and  waste of
$10 000 removal costs. 
DoC's  official final decisions for this area are released in their own "Submissions and Analysis" document- if Maungarau is removed, it will be replaced with a shelter. No mention of a community group being required to do maintenance of track or hut.
17. To have bunks it must be built to the same standard as your house in town - your garage is not safe enough. To make this hut safe, bunks, mattresses (!!), bench, shelves, watertank and external toilet need to be removed. Yet another hut inspection, by DoC. Of course it is found unsafe. To get this result DoC changed the criteria from those originally cited. Congratulations DoC.
18. No one is prepared to work for this DOC Conservancy after all these experiences.
 
 (beginning of 2005) DoC restate hut is illegal. It will be removed and a shelter will only replace it if a community group takes responsibility for the tracks.
19. Yeah right.  A new Wanganui area manager is appointed, Nic Peet. Here is a chance for a new look at what is happening and discuss with all parties.
20. After four inspections,  with changing criteria each time, DoC finally find a reason to declare the hut unsafe.

The promise of shelters in the Review decisions booklet was obviously not an honest intention.

For a public relations exercise DOC gets 0/10.

Article in Daily News 17th December states Maungarau and Pokeka huts have been removed due to low usage, not due to unsafe structure. Hut has no log book (it is free) so how numbers of users was measured  DoC only knows.
No mention of replacement with a shelter as stated. Track maintenance to cease!! (It didn't start).
21. The "Bush Grapevine" tells us that the hut was removed intact (not bad for an unsafe structure) and given/sold to a commercial interest on the Wanganui River side of the National Park. DoC Minister assures me that is not correct. It would mean that both entrances at the Pokeka end of the track system and the Wanganui river end have been "sold/lost" to commercial or self interests. A cynical person could wonder what is driving this abdication of the Conservation estate. A whole watershed is effectively lost to the public.
22. The "few kilometres away" is 20 km or so -one or two days of tramping depending on fitness.

The new huts REPLACE old huts. These were above Pokeka in DoC's "need of repair" list.

The "better opportunity" does not duplicate the lowland Kahikatea and Pukatea forests and valley floor hut of Pokeka, the Rotokohu wetlands or the rata forest of Maungarau. These are unique to this area.

Did any other area in NZ lose such a huge proportion of their track network?

Huts? We had already lost 3 huts just before the submission process (at least one removed illegally). Now 2 more are gone.

DoC Conservator Carlin states in a letter to the paper that there is a better opportunity only a "few kilometres away" with two new huts and bridges planned.

He "values the groups and individuals who submitted to the review of recreation opportunities"

Yeah right. Not one change was made from the original proposals for this area despite the huge number of opposing submissions for the tracks and Maungarau hut (more than any other hut).

Other Conservancies did "consult".  We were told what was going to happen and no "consultation" was of any consequence.

 

 

 

     

Letter to the Minister of Conservation
Chris Carter

If he had bothered to visit this hut when invited (at no cost to DOC) he would  have easily seen that DOC claims about the hut were contrived to ensure its removal.



Maungarau 1976

Maungarau 1980's

the hut that DoC removed in the mid 90's

The "unsafe" hut  removed by DoC

"To be replaced with a shelter with no bunks or fireplace"

No, even that statement was untrue.