Waikato River Authority calls for a review of freedom camping to ensure waterways protected

The Waikato River Authority says a full review of freedom camping regulations is required as an important step towards protecting the country’s waterways.

The call by Authority for tighter controls on unregulated camping comes after Tourism Minister Stuart Nash proposed a ban on camper vans that are not self contained with toilet facilities.

The Waikato River Authority’s co-chair Paula Southgate and Waikato-Tainui appointee Tipa Mahuta say that it is not good enough that waterways like the Waikato River are exposed to freedom camper toilet pollution.

“It is not acceptable for the banks of our rivers and streams to be used as toilets, and while we support the Minister in his call for a ban on non self-contained camping vehicles, we don’t think he has gone far enough and it is time to deal with the matter comprehensively,” says Tipa Mahuta.

Authority co-chair Paula Southgate says there is clearly a need for tougher regulations and large fines for people who dump waste in this way.

“The Waikato River Authority has spent many millions of dollars in the past several years on projects which are directly improving waterways in the Waikato and Waipā region. In many cases these projects have the added benefit of enhancing our tourism offering. We certainly don’t want to see this environment being spoiled by the visitors we are attracting,” says Ms Southgate.

The Waikato River Authority is an independent co-governance entity charged with overseeing the restoration and protection of the Waikato River and Waipā River. In ten years of funding river clean-up projects, the Waikato River Authorty has funded more than 360 projects with $56 million.