PLEASE: Don’t let DOC turn our conservation treasures into a tacky Disney Land

Paul Little and I are on the same page

DoC, as I’ve been telling anyone who’ll stand still long enough to listen for some years now, is the unsung hero of tourism. It’s arguable that no other body does as much to maintain the sites that attract visitors from overseas.

From Great Walks to historic sites, prettying up parks to preserving native birdlife, DoC is there with paths, signs and other paraphernalia.

It’s responsible for so much of what brings visitors here and gives us pride in our country. In that respect, it’s a nice little earner.

You wonder it can find time for anything else – like conservation.

Perhaps not entirely coincidentally, DoC has also helped float a plan for a tourist development at the West Coast’s Oparara Caves, which have been largely undisturbed for 35 million years and would probably like to stay that way but, sorry, we need the money.

In a marriage made in bureaucracy hell, DoC had been working with the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment to develop plans for the area.

It’s home to native bats, snails, ducks and kiwi but even those living taonga aren’t enough for some, who have suggested that what’s really needed to give the whole thing a bit of zip are life-size model moa.

Abandoning any pretence of dignity, one enthusiast even described the development as a potential “tourism and selfie hot spot”. What has been overlooked is that the reason tourists like it here is the other aspect of DoC’s work – conserving stuff.

The great majority of our flora and fauna are found only here and they are what those big-spending visitors want to see. They want to get up close to our rivers and waterfalls, lakes and mountains, bush and birdlife, not giant plastic models. Giant plastic models can be built anywhere.

Hectare for hectare, New Zealand is still the most beautiful country on Earth and despite the best efforts of one environment-abusing administration after another, there is still enough left to justify that claim.


Get back to Conservation DOC.   There is enough to do.


– Paul Little, NZ Herald

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