The New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement (NZCPS) is the only environmental national policy statement that is compulsory under New Zealand statute. All others are optional. A NZ Freshwater Policy Statement has also been adopted. What is exciting is that a revision of the NZCPS adopted in to legislation in December 2010 has protected a number of what are now ‘nationally significant surfbreaks’.
The NZCPS is the penultimate policy guideline for the coastal area of New Zealand. It sits above the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) and Regional Coastal Plans (RCP). RCPs, which are also compulsory, are written by the different Regional Councils and set rules for those regions’ coastal areas. The NZCPS and the RMA are the centralising axis for these plans and an RCP cannot contradict what is laid out in the NZCPS and the RMA.
The RMA allows for a review of the NZCP every ten years. This review is now taking place and Surfbreak Protection Society Inc. (SPS) are taking part.
A new policy has arisen in the draft review of the NZCPS and that is Policy 20 (P20). P20 gives protection to surfbreaks. This is a first for New Zealand.
In August 2006, just as SPS was formed, DoC released it’s ‘Issues and Options’, inviting interested parties to submit to the first draft of the revised NZCPS that was yet to be written. The catalyst for formation of SPS was the Whangamata marina debate that involved the lobbing of the then Minister of Conservation. Both the District Council and the Regional Council in the Whangamata area lobbied hard against surfbreak protection to the New Zealand Environment Court. The Court agreed with the Councils that surfbreak protection was not necessary. The then Minister of Conservation, who unlike the rest of his Department, was sympathetic to surfing, invited SPS to submit to the review of the NZCPS.
Other surf protection groups also submitted to the review and the combined weight of the submissions must have convinced the policy writers to add P20 to the draft allowing for protection of surfbreaks. This draft was then put out to the public of New Zealand for submissions in March 2008, which were followed by hearings. These hearings took place in many main town centres around the country. SPS organised for different members to speak to the hearings at the different venues. Other local surf riders and surf protection groups also submitted.
On 10 October 2008 SPS took 4 hours to present its main submission in Auckland, with professional support from lawyers, planners and scientists who were the pioneers of surfbreak advocacy in New Zealand, at the expert level.
The 4 person team which makes up the Board of Inquiry into the review of the New Zealand Coastal Policy statement is presently reviewing submissions and are deliberating on the final wording of the new NZCPS. This will then be presented to the Minister of the Environment who will look at the review and decide whether to take it to the Parliament for it to be made into Law.