"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
hut of some kind has been at Maungarau for many decades.
A new hut was erected by persons unknown, sheathed in plastic with a
| Hut deemed too dangerous and removed by DoC.
Users demand a replacement hut
Users offer to fund and build new hut
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.
can only guess!
Jan 1997 building consent issued
1997 Doc report to Conservation board says proposed hut will have 4
bunks constructed inside
Hut funded and built by public. Carpenter present from floor level up.
Some minor building errors made.
demands removal of the hut because it is not up to standard.
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.
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).
part of the Recreation Review Opportunities
2003/4 Doc propose to
remove Maungarau hut, its feeder hut Pokeka, and all tracks to and
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.
Because of this overwhelming disagreement with Doc proposals, Doc
instead propose to remove the
huts but retain the tracks "without maintenance"
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.
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.
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.
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
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
(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.
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).
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
22. The "few kilometres
away" is 20 km or so -one or two days of tramping depending on
The new huts
REPLACE old huts. These were above Pokeka in DoC's "need of repair"
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.