David Fisher is a senior reporter for the NZ Herald.

Wicked Campers feeling the heat

Camp grounds join moves to freeze out rental vans sporting offensive slogans.
The chief censor is investigating whether vans such as this one can be deemed a publication.
The chief censor is investigating whether vans such as this one can be deemed a publication.

Resistance is growing - Wicked Campers is facing a camping ground backlash over its offensive slogans.

Piha Domain Camp turned away a Wicked Camper van this week because it carried the slogan: "Blow job better than no job".

Its rejection followed a ban on the campervans at the popular Kaiteriteri Beach Motor Camp in Nelson Bays and opposition to those with offensive slogans at Queenstown camping grounds.

The uprising follows Herald on Sunday revelations that three Government ministers - Associate Tourism Minister Paula Bennett, Minister for Women Louise Upston and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry - had joined forces to find ways to stop Wicked Campers from parading offensive slogans on the vans rented to tourists.

Examples include: "A man would be interested in a woman's mind if it bounced gently as she walked" and "A big legged woman ain't got no soul".

Police have now complained to the Chief Censor, who is checking to see whether the vans fall within his powers as "publications", and the Department of Conservation has stripped the company from its list of suggested rental operators on its website.

Some local councils are also considering using bylaws to fine drivers.

The moves follow repeated findings against the company by the Advertising Standards Authority and failed efforts by a range of officials and Upston to discuss it with Wicked Campers owner John Webb, the Queensland mechanic who started the company over a decade ago.

Piha Domain Camp operator Fiona Anderson said she had taken a stand against the company by rejecting those carrying offensive slogans. The van that turned up this week with the "no job" slogan was carrying a German mum, dad and two young girls.

"My staff got abused.

"We offered them the use of a cabin for the night. I suggested putting the van in the bowling club car park."

Anderson said those driving Wicked Campers with offensive slogans were offered sheets to put across the offending area or gaffer tape to block out phrases.

"We have spraypaint if they would like to permanently remove it. Some have taken us up on that."

A spokesman for Barry said the Conservation Minister had competing interests that included tackling freedom campers, which had sparked an increase in people upset by defecation on the roadside and in the bush.

"Moving campervans away from campgrounds would lead to freedom camping in areas which lack proper facilities, which would create the obvious issues around waste disposal, toilets," he said.

He added Barry believed it would be more effective for local councils to tackle campervan drivers than for DoC to ban them from national parks.

Wickedness surrounds us, Kerre McIvor, p17

- Herald on Sunday

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