The NZMCA generally supports the intent of the Bill, including the requirement for fixed toilets under the new certification regime. However, we believe some aspects of the Bill should be improved to provide clearer outcomes, while avoiding unnecessary red tape and increased costs that will ultimately be passed down to vehicle owners.
Approximately 10% of members’ motorhomes and caravans have portable toilets. These vehicles will be most affected by the fixed toilet requirement. The vast majority (90%) of members’ vehicles already have fixed toilets and won’t be affected.
The NZMCA will continue to welcome into the club members that own well-equipped vehicles with portable toilets. We acknowledge their vehicles are designed to a higher standard than the ill-equipped vans that have frustrated communities for over a decade. This is why the NZMCA Board recently passed a motion that ensures members who travel in vehicles with portable toilets can still remain in the club and continue to enjoy their member benefits, including access to NZMCA Parks and attending NZMCA events. Further detail around this will be sent to members in due course.
In an ideal world, where everyone behaves responsibly and follows the rules, this Bill and the proposed changes to freedom camping would not be required. However, the Bill has been introduced because of the ongoing problems caused by a minority group of campers. We know from our ongoing discussions with communities, councils and central government agencies that unless we work together to tackle this problem right now, a future Government may be forced to adopt new legislation that effectively limits freedom camping to a handful of designated sites only across each region.
Such an outcome will unfairly punish the vast majority of responsible campers and is far worse for freedom camping than what some people fear about this Bill. A regime that only offers a handful of places to freedom camp will spell the end of freedom camping as we know it.
In our view, the new Bill seeks to protect the ‘freedom’ in freedom camping for the vast majority of responsible campers and it creates a regime that we can use to strengthen community support and their confidence in the systems we rely on.