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Digest No. 1907

Freedom Camping Bill 2011 (2011 No 306-2)

Date of Introduction: 18 May 2011
Portfolio: Conservation
Select Committee: Local Government and Environment
Date report presented: 21 July 2011
Published: 21 July 2011byJohn McSoriley BA LL.B, Barrister,Legislative AnalystP: (04) 817-9626 (Ext. 9626)F: (04) 817-1250Public enquiries:Parliamentary Information Service: (04 817-9647) Caution: This Digest was prepared to assist consideration of the Bill by members of Parliament. It has no official status.Although every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, it should not be taken as a complete or authoritative guide to the Bill. Other sources should be consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the Bill.


The aim of the Bill as introduced is to regulate freedom camping on land controlled or managed by local authorities (city, district, and regional councils) and land controlled or managed by the Department of Conservation under the Conservation Act 1987, the National Parks Act 1980, the Reserves Act 1977 and the Wildlife Act 1953 (each is a “conservation Act” as defined in the Bill), but not on private land (Clause 4 of the Bill).

The Bill as introduced is described in Bills Digest No 1867.

Main changes

Meaning of “local authority area” in relation to Auckland

The bar-2 Bill amends the definition of “local authority area” to specify that for Auckland that area is the area and land controlled or managed by the Auckland Council or Auckland Transport, excluding land permanently covered by water (amending Clause 6).

No absolute prohibition on freedom camping by a local authority

The bar-2 Bill provides that a local authority may not make bylaws “that have the effect of prohibiting freedom camping in all the local authority areas in its district” (Part 2, inserting New Clause 11A).

Bylaws and offences

Review periods are specified for bylaws (five years after their making and no more than ten years after last review) (Part 2, substituted Clause 12 of the Bill). Offences are made only infringement offences (and not both summary offences and infringement offences) (Part 3, amending Clause 18(1); Clause 4, definition of “infringement offence”).

New offence

The bar-2 Bill creates a new offence, carrying a penalty of a maximum fine of $10,000, of discharging a substance in or on a local authority area or conservation land in circumstances where the discharge is likely to be “noxious, dangerous, offensive, or objectionable to such an extent that it … has or is likely to have, a significant adverse effect on the environment … or ….has caused, or is likely to cause, significant concern to the community and users of the area of land” (Part 3, Clause 18, inserting new subclause (1A); Clause 22, amending subclause (1)).

CommentThe Select Committee stated: “This amendment follows from our proposed amendments to clause 18(1) making certain offences infringement offences only, and would capture situations where more serious damage is done by freedom campers. For example, it would cover freedom campers in self-contained vehicles discharging their containment tanks onto public land rather than into waste disposal units provided for that purpose” [1]   .

Existing bylaws become infringement offences under the Bill

The Bill as introduced identifies existing bylaws from around the country and deems them to be infringement offences under the Bill. The infringement fee is either that fee already specified in the particular bylaw or, where no fee is specified, $200.

The bar-2 Bill includes additional bylaws which have been passed or amended following the Bill’s introduction in these schedules (including, particularly provision 21.1 of the Rotorua Traffic Bylaw 2008 which is added to Schedule 4 to the Bill) (Part 3, Subpart 5, Clauses 44-48; Part 3, Subpart 1, deleting Clause 23 (“Infringement fees”) and substituting the provisions of that clause in new subclause (1AA) which is inserted in Clause 22; amending Schedule 3 to the Bill (“Bylaws breach of which are deemed infringement offences if resolution passed”); amending Schedule 4 to the Bill (“Bylaws breach of which deemed infringement offence if resolution passed”)).

Infringement notice

Schedule 2 to the Bill contains various prescribed forms such as Form 1 (“Infringement notice (default form)”) and Form 2 (“Reminder notice (default form)”) Both these standard forms include summaries of rights which summarise the provisions of the Bill relating to infringement offences and, in particular, the complicated system of defences supplied by the Bill and available to defendants.

The bar-2 Bill substantially redrafts these summaries of rights (Schedule 2 (“Prescribed forms”), amending Form 1, Summary of Rights; amending Form 2, Summary of Rights).

CommentThe apparent purpose of the amendments to the summaries of rights is to make them clearer and more capable of being understood by persons given infringement notice, who may often be foreign tourists who have an inadequate grasp of English. The elaborate system of defences is fully described rather than just referred to.

However, clause 17 of the Form 1 summary of rights and clause 13 of the Form 2 summary of rights both refer to Clause 23 of the Bill. The bar-2 Bill deletes that clause from the Bill.

Copyright: © NZ Parliamentary Library, 2011
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  1. Freedom Camping Bill, 2011 No 306-2, As reported from the Local Government and Environment Committee, Commentary, p. 5.   [back]