One of Maggie Barry’s tracks

By   /   January 12, 2018  /   16 Comments

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DOC has great people doing a fantastic job but it’s had nasty, venal ministers like Nick Smith and Maggie Barry who have done their best to drive it into the ground.

In mid-December I tramped the Dusky Sound Track in Fiordland. It’s a long and, in parts, difficult track covering 84km over eight days – tramping through spectacular river valleys and alpine passes. Part way along a 15km side track leads to Supper Cove at the inner end of Dusky Sound – hence the track’s name.

I’ll leave it to others to extol the virtues of the landscape, flora and fauna but needless to say there was plenty of stunning scenery and amazing birdlife.

The track has the usual challenges of knee-deep mud and swollen rivers to ford but the biggest challenge comes from the fact the track has not been maintained by the Department of Conservation for a number of years. For example when a tree comes down in a storm it may take several others with it and lack of maintenance means clambering over, crawling under or battling around huge splintered masses of trees with the problem of re-finding the track on the other side.

This makes the track unnecessarily difficult and as a result the number of people tramping it is dwindling. I was told by those associated with the track that fewer than 250 people now walk the track each year – most from overseas. On one section – from Supper Cove to the end of the track on Wilmot Pass Road – I didn’t see a single person for four days.

Failure to maintain the track is not the fault of the Department of Conservation but nine years of National Party governments which have underfunded DOC and pressured it to put its meagre resources into the eight so-called “Great Walks” which bring in larger tourist numbers.

DOC has great people doing a fantastic job but it’s had nasty, venal ministers like Nick Smith and Maggie Barry who have done their best to drive it into the ground.

This is Nick and Maggie’s track.

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  1. R.P. Mcmurphy says:

    well its not hard to see that the ‘great walks’ are the avenues for handing out national party patronage for things like choppering in portable dunnies and all sorts of other stuff. everything else is just ignored.

  2. Denny Paoa says:

    Youre on the money John.
    I’ve spent some time with these people, I’ve hosted them on our Marae, Held training courses for Cadets with DoC leading the training on the Marae and in surrounding locations for them to get their practical part of their training done.
    They are (DoC) absolutely committed to the environment & the preservation of it.
    I have also met with and spoken to these two fuck’n idiots! I can confirm, that they are fuck’n idiots!

    I cant really say anymore ….

  3. RosieLee says:

    But But But . . . she’s that lovely TV personality so she must be alright.

  4. esoteric pineapples says:

    On the bright side, John didn’t see a single person for four days. The places in New Zealand where you can go where there is hardly anyone and their machines is dwindling all the time. The trend is to make get-away-from-it-all places as accessible as possible.

    • Tom Gardner says:

      Fair point! But I would still wish to see fallen trees removed, for those few — those fortunate few — who make the track. (I’ve yet to do so, but have done the Routeburn, twice, and the Hollyford, back in the day when you could feel like the only person on the lonely planet.)

  5. bert says:

    Maggie and Nick are a waste of space on this planet and Iv’e just wasted 30 seconds of my life typing, I am a slow typist.

  6. Kim dandy says:

    Agreed john – without a healthy environment we are nothing. Whereas without the Nats, we are far better

  7. Andrea says:

    No, John. It is NOT nine years of National.

    DoC was strangled in its cradle by LABOUR. That party totally misunderstood the dynamics between NZFS, Lands and Survey, Wildlife, and the outliers in Historic Places and Transport’s marine section.

    They thought they’d ‘save money’. Synergy. Work for free – or at least the smell of an oily rag.

    Nothing changed after Cave Creek. Politicians STILL didn’t understand that swing bridges and other constructions, including roads and tracks, had been vetted by the NZFS engineering department – or even (oh, the horror!) those slouchers at MOW (Ministry of Works).

    It was all about the religion of ‘conservation’: cute creatures to be ‘saved’ – on the sort of make-do skills used by the old, grossly underfunded, Wildlife Service where robins were saved using converted thermos flasks.

    Leases, licences, tourists, hoover money out the pockets for huts that were once part of a network for safety, animal control, maintenance and covered in operating budgets.

    And they put some of the most inept persons in as departmental head who would have made Sir Humphrey blench. Pure of heart, converted, politician-pleasing pests. And that’s being polite.

    No effective training for incoming rangers. The services that had been there with Lincoln College for Lands and Service, the on the job training for Wildlife, the training for the rangers and foresters in NZFS – where? And what numbers? Oh, let’s have good-hearted volunteers…

    And the assorted politicians. Yeah, nah. Short-sighted, quick fix – and that includes the sainted Helen Clark, once Minister of Conservation.

    Thirty years of an economic experiment that should never have been taken. Time to go back to the drawing board.

    Oh. And stop dousing the kauri environment with toxins that ruin the soil ecology. We’re not here to save opinions and cashflows for poison makers and distributors. Nor are we here to stop time in its tracks. Where are the niches for young kauri to begin, face the modern equivalent of moa grazing pressure and manuring so they can grow? It does not, can not, look like climax forest that is so pleasing to the eye of the conservation religious.

    Sympathy on your hell track experience. Just like the olden olden days…

    • Sam Sam says:

      Wow. You certainly know how to hold a grudge way longer than you should.

      New Zealand is also full of living spaces that used to be beautiful havens of arts, culture, freedom, opportunity & civil discourse that have been turned into Shitholes. This is one reason why TPPA happened, land lords voted National & why rent seekers & Monopoly gangster are concerned for there investments inside New Zealand.

      You know what I mean? Normies gana blame.

      • Patrick says:

        Gee Sam,
        think you are being a tad hard on Andrea.
        That was one of the most informative posts I have ever read as I really didn’t now anything much about how DOC came into the world.
        The fact that under the old system engineers would have vetted the Cave Creek construction is particularly chilling.
        I don’t see someone holding a grudge. I see someone with a great knowledge of this subject who abhors the last 30 years of cost cutting.
        I didn’t see a grudge – I saw what appears to be an expert saying ” shame on both your houses” to successive governments.
        Bashing National is meat and spuds to this blog, which is pretty natural, but unfortunately balance is not, so her critic of Helen Clark no doubt won her few friends.
        Well done Andrea.

        • Sam Sam says:

          We can make those statement about running DOC and in the U.S at least they will not be changing any time soon. I won’t speak to the U.S. So keeping politicians from cutting corners on the ecology and maintenance means you cannot allow them to own the damn things as we saw with John Keys on a number of things, they will cheap out on anything they can sneak past MSM. At best you can charge the government a leasing fee to pay for maintenance but for said maintenance to actually happen the government needs to be in control and even then with parties like National that’s not a guarantee.

          By an objective standard, compared both to the pre-DOC situation in New Zealand and ecology systems abroad, they are actually doing pretty shit. People’s view of pre-DOC New Zealand is heavy clouded by nostalgia and all positive clean green imagery since people give into solely privatization. People don’t ponder whether the same would have happened without privatization anyway. So consideration of Ministers of DOC would mean the ecological systems become healthier and accessible kind of like those who think that TPPA means the beginning of a golden age for New Zealand and the re-establishment of a great colonial empire.

        • Shona says:

          agreed.Loss of the Forest Service and Ministry of Works along with many of our manned weather stations have been criminal in terms of organizational skills/training lost. Roger effing Douglas is to blame folks!

    • garibaldi says:

      Well said Andrea. Right on the button. Also, thanks for the item John.

  8. Priss says:

    Ms Barry should stick to her gardening. DoC estates demand care, resourcing, skilled staff and money to maintain. All of which seem beyond National’s cost-cutting money-freaks.

    If DoC has survived, it’s in spite of the likes of Maggie Barry, not because of any efforts they might have made.

  9. Keepcalmcarryon says:

    Windfall on the tracks uncleared? Good stuff. Let the urban masses piss off from our wild places or better yet man up and enjoy the ruggedness that makes the beauty, mud, trees, sandflies and all.
    DoC does not own the Wilderness, if your enjoyment of it revolves around them you have missed the entire point.
    Who ever went on a tramping trip to score political points?
    If a tree falls on the dusky track and Maggie didn’t hear it, are National still wankers?
    Of course.

  10. Ian Creevey says:

    STOP THE 1080 DROP NOW !☠️

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