Sunday, 15 May 2011


PROPOSED fines of up to $10,000 for freedom campers have been welcomed by motor-camping advocates.
Environment Minister Nick Smith unveiled the new freedom camping legislation yesterday and said a bill would be introduced into Parliament this month.
Under the proposed new law, councils will be able to designate areas as camping areas, prohibited places, and sites where camping is restricted to self-contained motorhomes. The Conservation Department will be able to make similar rulings.
Automatic fines of $200 will be given to people camping illegally and court-imposed fines of up to $10,000 will punish those caught dumping sewage.
Dominion Post, 16 May 2011

AH Reed a member of a once famous New Zealand Publishing family once wrote a book when he was 98 entitled "The Happy Wanderer" about his journeys on foot across NZ. This was a celebration of what we would now call "freedom camping" and of seeing our country while on foot and interacting with the people he met. This freedom to roam is something we should think about before we rush to criminalise it.

This walking about and camping in the open air is something our forebears took for granted and we now wish to make it a criminal offence. If the concern is about human waste etc then the answer is to supply proper toilet facilities. Roaming and camping in public spaces is one of the best ways to experience nature and see and encounter people. It causes me dismay to see us legislating our freedoms away slice by slice or precedent by precedent.

GK Chesterton's final verse from The Horrible History of Jones seems apt:
An author in the Isle of Wight
Observed with unconcealed delight
A land of just and old renown
Where Freedom slowly broadened down
From Precedent to Precedent.
And this, I think, was what he meant.

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