Well, the 1 March meeting with DoC for outdoor recreation groups was a bit of a mixed bag and had only a few pluses for tramping in it.
But there was quite a bit else that was worth knowing.
The quick pluses:
- The new hut in Woolshed Creek at Mt Somers should be finished by the end of March.
- The Wharfedale hut has had quite a bit of work done on it.
DoC's Canterbury Conservancy has just been through a big restructuring excercise combining the old Waimakariri Area and most of the old North Canterbury into a new super Waimak Area. It must have been a very unsettling period for staff.
The new Waimak Area will be based at a big new office in Rangiora - good news for Rangiora trampers.
A new Area called Mahaanui includes Banks Peninsula and coastal regions. I'm not clear on the boundary of Mahaanui but it seems to be loosely centred on the Statutory Acknowledgement for Te Tai o Mahaanui (Selwyn-Banks Peninsula Coastal Area) under the Ngai Tahu Deed of Settlement, and its hinterland.
The new Waimak Area has a new manager, Kingsley Timpson, with Ronan Grew continuing to look after assets. Bryan Jensen moves to town as area manager for Mahaanui and Dave Milward picks up the assets role there. Dave now has Packhorse Hut as his only hut to look after.
In general business, a few people were interested in whether the Conservancy received extra funding when they acquired extra land to look after through Tenure Review. Apparantly they are given extra funds but the money is not tied. Some people seemed concerned that this money could be diverted for other that what it was granted for.
The two northern Areas reported on what was happening in their patch (no one came from Raukapuka, Twizel or Aoraki/Mt Cook):
Ronan Grew said he'd been focusing on 'huts and structure maintenance' since the December meeting. We weren't given much detail except for the work on the Wharfedale hut. From what was said there it sounded mostly basic maintenance and remedial work but nothing to mitigate any problems from the removal of the nearby Townshend hut.
The burnt down Hawdon Hut won't be replaced in a hurry. It'll be next year before it's started and it's expected to cost $290,000. Lesley Shand sought assurance the new hut wouldn't sleep more trampers than the original.
The fire investigation showed the fire started from hot ashes from the wood stove being disposed of down beside the hut. To remove this risk in the future Ronan has been developing a new mechanism to help people dispose of ashes safely.
Someone mentioned the lack of a wood stove in the Avoca Hut now. From what DoC staffer, Jim Henderson, wrote in the hut book I'd understood he decided the wood stove should go and heaved it out himself. However Ronan described a different sequence of events that didn't involve Jim. He said there had since been discussions with the CUTC about a replacement stove. I asked whether the CUTC would be required to pay for this but Ronan didn't answer that one.
In another strange item Ronan complained the CMC had done quite a bit of maintenance work on their own Park-Morpeth Hut. I say 'strange' because as he talked Ronan seemed to be displaying signs of anger about it. I was uncomfortable about this and concerned we were seeing an inappropriately emotional response. I realise, for various reasons, Waimak Area is a long way behind on its work schedule and I hope what we saw here wasn't a sign of Ronan feeling pressured by this. If that's where it's coming from I hope the department takes seriously its responsibility as an employer and ensures its staff work in an environment where it's understood there's no expectation for them to achieve more than is provided for.
As it was we actually got more of a work report on what the CMC had done than had been achieved by DoC in the Waimak area. Apparently they stripped out Park-Morpeth hut and installed new platform bunks and a new sink bench etc. And I'm sure most people present were quite impressed and appreciative of the CMC's effort.
After that I felt almost apologetic in mentioning the roof on Big Tops hut. I did say I was prepared to go in and repair it myself if there was a chance of it slipping down the list. However Ronan was confident his team could do it.
While the discussion about Park-Morpeth was going on Lesley Shand raised her concern about Temple Basin Ski Area. Apparently this still operates outside of any formal agreement with DoC. This must create all sorts of difficulties for both sides, and even worse for the public who just have to hope that in the absence of any framework their environmental, safety, access and other concerns are able to get the attention they need.
Another thing Lesley was concerned about was the state of the track to the newish Nina Hut and the rapid depletion of dead wood for the wood stove. Her coments about the track weren't picked up but there was an extended discussion on the types of heating and cooking fuel used in DoC huts in other parts of the country.
There are only two bridges left to complete on the Little River Rail Trail.
DoC are to formally pick up responsibility for the track from Packhorse around the Kaituna side of Mt Bradley to the Mt Herbert Shelter. I don't know if this will make much practical difference as Ben and Colin Faulkner have long established a high standard on this track of theirs.
The meeting wound up with a cup of tea and a chat at about 10.00 pm.