South Taranaki District Council's innovative approach to freedom camping has been awarded the Tompkins Wake Award for Better Regulation and Policy at a gala dinner in Auckland.

They were one of six winners announced in the 2019 McGredy Winder SOLGM Local Government Excellence Awards at the Society of Local Government Managers (SOLGM) dinner.

The award recognised the approach taken by South Taranaki District Council towards the issue of freedom camping in the region.

Tourism and freedom camping has increased across Taranaki. The project involved the development of a bylaw and a scoring system for conducting significant site assessments and worked with kaitiaki (ambassadors) to monitor its application throughout the district.


New Zealand Society of Local Government Managers Chief Advisor Raymond Horan says South Taranaki's project demonstrated the value of developing robust, evidence-based policy and the application of good decision-making.

"Freedom camping is an issue that is very topical, but it can also be a matter of great sensitivity. The judges see the mobilisation of kaitiaki as a means of providing for compliance through encouragement rather than prosecution."

STDC Chief Executive Waid Crockett says the Council took a very practical, South Taranaki approach to freedom camping.

"We wanted to be welcoming to visitors to our district while ensuring they respect our home while they are here. Using our Freedom Camping Ambassadors/kaitiaki we've been able to encourage campers to do the right thing without having to use a heavy-handed approach," says Waid.

"We're thrilled to have been awarded this prize. Policy and Regulation can sometimes be an inhibitor; however the determination of our Councillors and staff to make this work has seen a great outcome for our community."