Sometimes it seems like we are in a constant fight for access (and we are). We make so many submissions, it's hard to take a breath, and look back at what we have achieved together.
Success takes patience, persistence, good data, and riders who are willing to speak up.
Auckland Regional Parks
Much of Auckland's riding is in it's regional parks. We have gone from a fairly combative relationship in the first years, to one of friendly partnership, and collaboration. Each year we work to build on this good relationship, extend our access times and improve facilities for riders. Thanks to the efforts and goodwill of the rangers, and parks team we make steady progress and now have some wonderful riding in our regional parks.
Te Muri (2017)
Te Muri was initially a 'given'. As a farm park, we expected to get horse riding access when the new park was developed, our job seemed to be pushing along the priorities so that it didn't languish as unused land for too long. However, along the way the hearings process changed as part of Auckland's Unitary Plan (I think), and then local Iwi decided that they all objected to any public horse riding or biking access to this park. This was a huge shock, and suddenly we were fighting for access again.
In Feb 2017 we finally won! read more here Of course, there is more work to do - now we must push for the timeline to speed up!
Network Pass for Horse Riders (2010)
Auckland Regional Parks used to be a mish-mash of permits and conditions for horse riders. Some charged a bond, or fee for horse riders (no other user group was ever charged). We now have free access to a variety of regional parks, and are accepted as a user group for new parks as they are developed. There is a network pass, that is free, and needs to be updated each year (an email).
While this is an improvement, it is not perfect and continues to show that horse riders are still viewed as second-class citizens. We continue to lobby to improve this situation at every opportunity. The proof of our success is that when new parks are being planned, we get the call to work on horse facilities.
Many Councils have been reviewing their public places, and other bylaws in the last few years. For some reason, horses get clobbered in the draft. Often because one, or two disgruntled people are quite vocal about their opposition to horses on beaches. We've been very successful at getting these restrictive bylaws dropped, and in some cases we actually get more access than there was under the old bylaws.
We do this through a combination of:
- statistics (usually the number of complaints about horses is ridiculously low - in Auckland, horse complaints were actually half the number of complaints about cats!),
- working with officers to work through what issues they are concerned about, and presenting good options instead of a ban, and
- mobilising local riders to make sure there is a good turnout of written submissions, and at the hearings.
Tauranga Beach Access
Tauranga City Council proposed a bylaw to remove horse riders. This was defeated through the submissions process.
Tuapiro Beach, and Western BOP Beach access. Mostly through Local Action (with our support), including a petition, horse access to Tuapiro Point, and other Western BOP beaches was secured for the future.
Rodney Beach Permits
Rodney District Council (and later legacy bylaws under Auckland Council) had extremely restrictive bylaws, a local anti-horse vigilante, and a poor relationship with the Bylaws officers. Initially, we helped to bring pressure to bear, and then facilitate meetings to resolve issues.
All Auckland Beaches 2013-2015
As the legacy bylaw came up for review, we had an excellent opportunity to work WITH the bylaws officers to create the new rules. Such a positive turn-around.
We came out with a great result. Some sensible rules for busy summer times, no permits, no bans! For the first time , Auckland riders can ride on any beach they like, using common sense and courtesy. This new bylaw came into effect in September 2015 read here
Whangarei Beaches (2014)
Whangarei District Council proposed a bylaw that initially effectively removed horse access from all beaches. Local Action, and support from NZ Horse Network (working behind the scenes to show officers how beach bylaws operated in other Councils) ensured that beach access remains for the future.
Pony Club Grounds
In Auckland in particular, Pony Clubs have been losing ground to sports grounds and other uses rapidly. The North west suffered a real crisis when the Henderson-Massey Local Board seemed ready to eradicate all the Pony Clubs in it's area (which also happened to be the remaining Pony Clubs for most of the North-West).
We've helped both the Te Atatu Pony Club, and Massey Pony Club stay on their grounds. In the case of Massey we also helped to start off the process to build a subregional equestrian centre.
Dept of Conservation (DOC) Lands, and Parks
St James Station
Along with a number of others, we lobbied both for continued access to St James Station, and to keep a herd of horses on the land.
Canterbury, and Otago Conservation Management Strategies
Greater inclusion of horse riding is acknowledged in each of these strategies.
We've only created one so far, and we learned an awful lot from that. We certainly want to do more, but the idea needs to be presented first, support gathered, and a whole lot of planning, funding and implementation processes completed.
Rodney Road Safety
2010 Signage was produced and erected around the district in spots heavily used by equestrians. RDC road safety co-ordinator spoke about the campaign on local radio spots.
Submissions are a piece of the puzzle. They are rarely a silver bullet - it can take years of making submissions, making small steps forward, or being totally ignored and knocked back. But every submission still counts!
Small successes can be almost invisible. We had made many, many submissions on Crown Pastoral tenure review when we noticed that the policy seemed to have changed on cattle stops. Initially cattle stops were an option on any DOC land, but we kept pointing out that this stopped horse riders from having any access. Then, without a word, they stopped appearing, and only gates were permitted.