15 Apr 2014

Freedom camping test case in court

3:19 pm on 15 April 2014

The rights of freedom campers to park anywhere on the Coromandel Peninsular is being argued in the High Court in Hamilton.

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In a test case, the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association is seeking a judicial review of the bylaws covering freedom camping enforced by the Thames-Coromandel District Council.

The association believes the bylaws are draconian and seriously reflect just where and when they can camp.

The association says at present, freedom campers driving self-contained vehicles which take away all waste are prohibited for at least 30 prime locations on the peninsular.

It says freedom camping is restricted by the council's Freedom Camping Bylaw, but also bylaws covering public places and parking.

The association's lawyer, Mai Chen, told the court on Tuesday that it punishes freedom campers and is a breach of rights of the freedom of movement.

The court was told the Thames-Coromandel District Council made last-minute concessions to the association by revoking parts of the bylaws, however this didn't impress the Motor Caravan Association because it says the council has done it without proper public consultation - the same beef it has over the council's initial implementation of the bylaws.

The association has asked Justice Cooper to quash the relevant bylaws before the council proceeds with a review of its freedom camping policies. It is worried that if they are not quashed, the council will take a long time making changes and the status quo for freedom campers would continue.