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DOC Update

Readers will be well aware of the changes that have been underway for some time in regard to the Department of Conservation, and no district in the entire country is more affected that ours. With any luck, and with the staff reductions that have already taken place, we may be spared the more drastic staff redundancies that are occurring elsewhere. But the whole manner in which DOC operates will change. Hopefully, the changes will mainly occur in administration, rather than in the field.

The first and most important matter at hand is in regard to finalising the negotiations with the Hauraki Collective leading up to the Hauraki Settlement, which is due before the end of this year. This in itself will bring about major change. Far greater tangata whenua input will follow. There remain some real issues concerning access and management that need to be negotiated, and some unhappiness may result.

Already there are indications that access to certain sensitive waahi tapu, and other areas will be tightened up, and methods by which weeds and pests are controlled altered to meet iwi requirements. The provision and maintenance of facilities may need to change quite dramatically. This is a fact of life – not a matter of choice, and we will all need to learn to live with the end result. That is what negotiated settlements are all about, and the DOC estate is the major asset under negotiation.

Another change already under way is the expansion of the CVP (Conservation Volunteer Projects) programme. By the time the current reorganisation is completed, it is planned that volunteers will undertake at least 40% of the work within the Coromandel DOC estate. This includes weed and pest control, track maintenance, new plantings and general maintenance.

A team of twelve volunteers went on a three day trip to Fletcher Bay on the northern tip of the Peninsula last week to plant out well over 3,000 trees and shrubs within the camping ground – now protected from stock. The labour was not demanding – six hours a day give or take, and plenty of time for other activities – fishing and walking mainly, with good accommodation at the backpackers, and congenial company. The average age was probably 70, and nearly all had had previous experience in this role. It was a great way to make a contribution, and enjoy some excellent fellowship, though the conversation was heavily in the direction of boats and fishing techniques. A surfeit of snapper for supper was not a bad pay-back for the non-fishers.

DOC (07 867 9180, or email ) welcome any enquiries in regard to the programme, and have an excellent booklet setting out all the projects available through to the end of summer. Many still have places available, and they cover the entire Peninsula from one to five days with groups from 4 to 50 in size. Varying degrees of fitness are required, but nothing out of the way.




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