Kaitiaki rangers back with a new focus

Published on 09 December 2022

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Kaitiaki rangers, who have operated every summer since 2018 at popular Far North destinations, are back thanks to their positive impact on the community. This summer they have a new focus – freedom camping.  

As the tourism industry recovers in the Far North, indications are the number of freedom campers is increasing. Kaitiaki will again be on duty at popular holiday spots reminding visitors about fire bans, dangerous driving on beaches, littering, toileting, disruption of flora and fauna and the destruction of sand dunes.

This summer, Kaitiaki will also be encouraging visitors to participate in a survey about freedom camping. The survey will provide localised information about how many freedom campers access facilities, where the most popular freedom camping spots are, and the types of vehicles used. This will enable the council to manage current freedom camping facilities, assess the need for designated freedom camper sites, and plan for future demand.

The Minister of Tourism has made no secret of his plans to regulate freedom campers and has created a $10 million Freedom Camping Transition Fund for local authorities that can demonstrate impacts of freedom camping.

Far North District Council has been granted $285,000 by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. This funding enables the council to again employ Kaitiaki rangers, undertake the survey, and create tourism signage and education materials. Funding from this first round of the Freedom Camping Transition Fund is for this summer only.

To target tourism and freedom camping hot spots, several Kaitiaki rangers will be based at Te Hononga - Hundertwasser Memorial Park at Kawakawa, a key gateway for visitors to the Far North. Others will work across the district around Ahipara, Karikari, Russell, and the Hokianga.

The Kaitiaki rangers will be recruited from local hapū and marae, with programmes jointly run by the council, DOC and Northland Regional Council, as has been done in the past. Some of the ranger roles will start in December and continue until Easter next year.