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19 Dec 2011 at 4:11 pm #15335MikeMGuest
In case you’ve not heard and it’s of interest, Graeme Kates, former chair of LandSAR at Arthurs Pass and a former worker at the DOC Visitor Centre there, has for the last few weeks been expressing strong concerns about a DoC decision to replace the paper intentions form system at that visitor centre. (He recently resigned from both of those positions in protest.) DoC has delayed the change for a further 2 months in response, but he’s worried that the concerns are still not being adequately addressed.
You can read his comprehensive comments at http://www.softrock.co.nz/mg/index.php?page=217 , where he’s created an online petition for anyone who decides they want to sign it, and he’s also requested that that concerned people write to various relevant Ministers and other influential people to express the concens. (Personally if you decided you had an interest, I think the latter is a million times more meaningful than signing a petition.)
Note that unlike most of NZ except maybe Mt Cook, DoC at Arthur’s Pass does more than take intention forms. The staff often actively follow people up and start acting if they believe people might not have returned as indicated.
DoC’s argument (and maybe this is incomplete because I’ve had trouble finding much publicity about it) is that it’s putting things in line with the rest of the country, and DoC shouldn’t be responsible for looking after people. This is kind-of understandable because DoC doesn’t have any legal mandate to manage people’s intentions in the back-country, and the lack of such a system already works fine in most places. DoCs trying to drive people towards the AdventureSmart website at http://www.adventuresmart.org.nz as an alternative, which tells people how to be responsible for their own safety and intentions.
Graeme’s basic summarised concern is that Arthurs Pass is a special case because 63% of visitors to that area who use the current system are international tourists who are unlikely to know trusted local contacts. He’s also concerned that many such people won’t follow best practice regardless of what they’re told despite having little experience either locally or generally, that shifting to a system where people aren’t actively steered towards staff with local knowledge as they go through will likely result in a higher number of accidents, and a higher number of visitors leaving with bad plans, or with inaccurate or badly expressed intentions, or without reliable contacts, and ultimately badly informed (or just non-initiated) SAR searches.
Anyway, his much more comprehensive concerns are detailed at the link above within his website.