FMC Comments on Reports of Hut Removals in Te Urewera
Media Release: 12/10/2022
“The proposal to remove DOC huts from Te Urewera has come as somewhat of a surprise to FMC. We acknowledge that this is a result of Crown injustices, 20 years of DOC’s neglect of the Urewera backcountry. We also acknowledge Tūhoe’s wish to revitalise backcountry infrastructure on their ancestral land in a way that embodies their culture”, says FMC President, Robin McNeill.
“The state of much of the hut network in Te Urewera upon settlement was already questionable. It is understandable that Tūhoe see hosting poorly maintained DOC huts without a maintenance budget as an unwelcome imposition.”
McNeill is disappointed that recreational interests were not consulted on the plan. “DOC needs always to properly engage with the public on matters that are of such importance to the recreational community”.
“FMC seeks a future where tangata whenua and manuhiri work together to look after and appreciate Te Urewera. We will be meeting with Tūhoe to further understand their plans for Te Urewera. Until then, it would be inappropriate to comment on those plans. We would, of course, hope that huts with significant historic or recreational value could be retained. We are also in discussions with DOC to understand why they felt it appropriate to make this decision on behalf of the public with no input from the tramping and hunting communities, and to seek assurances that this doesn’t happen again.”
Mr McNeill understands the concerns some trampers hold that the DOC huts may not all be replaced. Trampers need to be much more alarmed by hinted DOC plans to abandon backcountry huts throughout the rest of New Zealand, he says.
“DOC Head Office has already cut funding for the Backcountry Trust, which is doing sterling work enabling volunteers to restore backcountry huts – our places – that DOC will not do themselves. I hear DOC is considering cutting funding for all backcountry huts. If that were true, it would not be acceptable.”
“DOC has a statutory duty to foster recreation, and FMC calls upon DOC to openly engage with the recreational community on these matters in future.”
For more information, please contact Allan Brent, FMC Vice President, 027 306 2965