15 Mar 2013

MP complains about Treaty Grounds' fencing

8:35 pm on 15 March 2013

Labour Party MP Shane Jones has criticised a plan to fence off the Treaty Grounds at Waitangi.

The Waitangi National Trust is about to fence the perimeter of the grounds to stop overseas tourists gaining access without paying a $25 fee.

Entry is free to New Zealand residents.

The trust says at the moment there is nothing to stop overseas visitors wandering up the coastal path to the Treaty Grounds for nothing.

However, Mr Jones says the trust's fortress mentality is repugnant.

"It doesn't convey the spirit of the birthplace of our nation being as open and free as the vista is when you gaze out across the Bay of Islands."

Mr Jones say if the Waitangi National Trust cannot afford to let a few tourists in for free, it should revisit the offer made by the last Labour Government and allow the Historic Places Trust to take over the running of the Treaty Grounds.

A Northland woman says the trust is chasing New Zealanders as well as overseas visitors off the Treaty Grounds, in its bid to collect entry fees.

Christine Cronshaw, of Kerikeri, says locals have always used the coastal track to show visitors the view from the top but on a recent occasion she and her overseas guests were confronted by a burly man who tried to stop them.

She says she won't be taking visitors back to Waitangi after that experience.

Trust chair Pita Paraoneis defending the fence, saying all overseas visitors have to pay.

He says just because they are accompanied by New Zealanders who have free access that shouldn't exempt them from having to pay admission.

Mr Paraone says the trust is determined the upkeep of the Treaty Grounds will never be a burden on taxpayers.