Trial allows camper's dogs at Ngawi

By Don Farmer don.farmer@age.co.nz -
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Dogs will have to be under proper control on Ngawi reserves. PHOTO/FILE
Dogs will have to be under proper control on Ngawi reserves. PHOTO/FILE

Dog owners who camp in the Ngawi and Ngawi Surf Breaks Reserves have won a victory -- but will need to be on their best behaviour for a year to secure the win for a longer time.

South Wairarapa District Council has resolved to drop the ban on dogs within the free camping sites for a trial period of a year, with a raft of conditions.

The change of heart over the dog issue, and the resolution to alter the Camping in Coastal Areas bylaw to suit, was partly inspired by a letter received from Greytown dog owner Shavorne Simmonds in September, who said she had been camping with her family at Ngawi for years.

When "No Dogs Allowed" signs were posted she no longer felt welcome, as she took her family pet on trips away.

Mrs Simmonds said she and her husband had been on a North Island trip and had found "every town welcoming with a dog-friendly area to camp".

She said South Wairarapa was the only unwelcoming place and that needed to be addressed.

A report prepared for councillors by planning and environment manager Murray Buchanan said the coastal ranger had been subjected to some " tension" enforcing the "no dogs" bylaw in designated camping areas, especially at the Ngawi and Ngawi Surf Breaks sites.

The problem did not end with visitors, as Ngawi residents often let their dogs roam and had come under scrutiny as that meant their dogs were deemed not to be under lawful control.

Some owners had "strongly challenged" the enforcement.

The ranger had also " faced angst" from campers who had arrived, set up, but then been asked to leave the camp site because they had a dog.

Several dog owners had contacted the council to say it was unfair and unnecessary to exclude dogs which were not in any way a danger and would not cause problems.

A small-scale survey of campers in January had shown 70 per cent agreed that campers' dogs should be allowed, subject to conditions being imposed.

Coastal councillor Brian Jephson at this week's meeting said there had to be set conditions that covered all dogs, both visiting and local.

"Fishermen who go to sea leaving their dogs on the beach all day are a definite no, no," Mr Jephson said.

Councillor Julie Riddell said the bylaw had come into being as town dogs were encroaching on coastal areas, most notably at Tora, and spreading sheep measles with the result that farmers could lose big money.

This prompted councillor Colin Olds to comment that special control conditions on dogs could be extended to both Tora and Te Awaiti, but the resolution at the meeting was limited to the Ngawi situation.

The trial allowing dogs will involve dogs needing to be on a leash at all times within the camp ground, dogs not being left alone at the campsites while an owner is elsewhere, and dogs must have sufficient food, water and shelter.

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