Camp ground closure angers longtime user

By Anna Ferrick

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Gordon Anderson stands at the Kuripapango site where a new car park and a helicopter pad are being developed, blocking off the historic free camp grounds. Photo/Warren Buckland.
Gordon Anderson stands at the Kuripapango site where a new car park and a helicopter pad are being developed, blocking off the historic free camp grounds. Photo/Warren Buckland.

A local man is calling for a halt to the destruction of a camp ground in the Kaweka Conservation Park that he has been visiting for the past 50 years.

Gordon Anderson, of Napier, said he arrived at the free camp ground at Kuripapango on the Napier-Taihape road last Friday to find an excavator at the site.

Mr Anderson said he spoke to workmen at the site who told him of the impending closure of the camp ground which is known as the "turntable".

"We couldn't believe our eyes, there's been no notification."

He visited the site again yesterday to find it had been closed.

"A digger was filling in the place where people come in, all the entrances have been blocked off."

Mr Anderson, who first visited the camp when he was 16, said he was shocked to find the camp ground closing and said there had been no recent consultation or notification with people who used the site.

"A key demographic of the users of the Taihape road are motorbike riders and especially the baby boomer brigade and their motor homes.

"Many use this area as an overnighter in their travels, why should they be denied the right to a free and safe off road parking area?"

Mr Anderson said the area was special to him not only because of his history at the site, but because of the environment.

"My kids have camped there, my grandkids have camped there. We've had many weekends up there, it's free, it's safe, but it's all going. When you wake up in the morning and you can hear the tuis and the bellbirds and the river is right there and it's all free but now it's gone."

He said the purpose of closing the camp was to "force" people to another campsite nearby.

"That camp is nice enough but it's not free and you can't take your animals."

Mr Anderson took part in public consultation seven or eight years ago about the development of Kuripapango and other areas in the Kawekas.

He said following the consultation a new camping area was developed with the capacity for 50 camp sites.

"This site is now being extended to accommodate more campers, the irony of this action is that DoC will be creating an overcrowded tent suburbia in the wilderness, the very thing that so many families want to escape from. As a contributor to this plan, I, and I am sure many others contributors to the plan, did not envisage that the 'turntable' would be closed to the general public."

Mr Anderson said the increased capacity at the new camp ground means there could be up to 200 people camping there at a time.

"Kids won't even be able to throw a ball."

Department of Conservation spokesman Dave Carlton said the decision had been made on the grounds of consolidating facilities in the area and making them better.

"There is one small camping site that we are looking at taking out but there is another one just down the road that is fully equipped with toilets."

Mr Carlton said he was still receiving information about the processes carried out before decisions were made on the future of the camp site.

"I've asked my staff to get back to me about it. I should have answers to that in a few days."

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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