Ambassadors help freedom campers act responsibly 04 February 2020 Our team of six Responsible Camping Ambassadors has been meeting and greeting freedom campers since mid-December, helping them find the right places to stay and providing information on where to find public toilets and rubbish disposal facilities. (Photo: Responsible Camping Ambassador John Freer (right) speaks to a freedom camper in Tairua) “We have received really good feedback from campers and the ambassadors themselves about the positive interactions that are happening,” says Brian Taylor, our Council’s Regulatory Manager. “We have also heard from residents around our more popular sites saying that these spots appear tidier than previous years. Our infringements and warnings are slightly down on last year which we would love to attribute to the ambassadors’ interactions,” Mr Taylor says. “But as the programme is still going we haven’t had a chance to evaluate it completely,” he says. The ambassadors started on 16 December 2019 and will continue until 23 February 2020. From 15 December to the end of January, our Council’s bylaws enforcement staff issued 214 freedom camping infringements and gave 356 warnings. In the same period the summer before, 301 infringements were issued and 432 warnings. “The intention of the ambassador programme was to provide better education and advice to freedom campers to allow them to make more informed choices of where to stay and ultimately see our compliance rates increase,” says Mr Taylor. John Freer is one of our ambassadors, based in the district’s South East Ward. He visits the freedom camping sites from Whangamata up to Cooks Beach. “I’m seeing a minimum of 30 vehicles a day,” Mr Freer says. “People are on holiday, they’re relaxed, they’re receptive to the information we’re providing them about staying in designated freedom camping sites, using certified self-contained vehicles, using public toilets and not leaving rubbish behind. The freedom campers are mindful of leaving this place as they find it, and that’s at the heart of the Tiaki Promise of care for New Zealand that we’re helping to promote,” Mr Freer says. The ambassadors hand out Council pre-paid rubbish bags and pamphlets describing our Council’s freedom camping regulations. “We also provide a personal touch. We talk to the visitors and give them our own recommendations of where to go and what to see on their visit. They appreciate it because you can’t always get the feel for a place from an app or a guidebook,” Mr Freer says. The ambassadors carry mobile devices equipped with the “Ambassador App”. It allows them to record data on their interactions with freedom campers and build up a data set of how many freedom campers visit the Coromandel and which sites they’re using. This data can then be used to help inform our Council on planning and decision making. Our Council received funding of $721,774 from central government's Responsible Camping Fund to pay for the ambassadors ($71,532), the educational material they’re handing out to freedom campers, a design on our portable rubbish compactors that explains how to use them (see more on the compactors below), and enhanced servicing of 59 public toilets in visitor hotspots. As this external funding is only for this summer, it means the extra level of service will not be carried over to the 2020/21 summer period. For more on our Freedom Camping Bylaw and where designated freedom camping sites are on the Coromandel, visit our website tcdc.govt.nz/freedomcamping. Meet the ambassadors (Photo: Ken Ward, far left, our Council's Bylaws and Compliance Team Leader, with the Responsible Camping Ambassadors. From left: Phil Andrews, Joke Streukens, John Freer, Liz Thomas, Nigel Airey. Missing: Carl Redaelli) Take the Tiaki Promise The Tiaki Promise is a nationwide initiative our Council is participating in to help visitors to New Zealand care for our people, place and culture, for now and future generations. You can find out more about the Tiaki Promise here. Check out our new-look portable rubbish compactors (Photo: One bag of domestic rubbish at a time in the portable compactors, please.) If you've got bagged domestic rubbish you wish to dispose of, you can drop it one of our portable rubbish compactors for $2 in coins per bag. The compactors’ current locations are: Kuaotunu Boat Ramp – also known as Quarry Point Boat Ramp. SH25 opposite 88 Kuaotunu-Wharekaho Rd. Opoutere - beside the public toilets on the corner of Ohui and Opoutere roads, near the campground. Old Coroglen Saleyard site – immediately south of the SH25 bridge over the Waiwawa River. 1909 SH25 Tairua-Whitianga Rd, near the junction with the Tapu-Coroglen Rd. The compactors have been around for a few years, but we've recently covered them with a colourful design that better illustrates what they are and how they can be used. For more information on the portable compactors, go to tcdc.govt.nz/rubbishcompactors. Communications Survey - would you like a $500 petrol voucher? We would really appreciate your feedback on how we deliver council news to you. Yes, there is a prize – we are offering a $500 petrol voucher to somebody selected at random from among those who complete our annual survey. Please be honest, critical (constructively) about what we can do to improve our communications. Please try to give full answers. The survey is really quick and should only take a few minutes Take the survey here. And here's another chance to win a $500 petrol voucher If you love and use our iconic Coromandel coastline, make sure you have input to an important Council project, through our Coromandel Coast survey. Take the survey online here. It includes questions about the activities you enjoy around the Coromandel coast (eg surfing, swimming, boating, hiking, gathering shellfish or dog walking), your thoughts on coastal hazards and sea level rise and where you go for information on coastal hazards and risks. On completion of the survey, you’ll go in the draw to win a $500 petrol voucher. The information we gather is important for our Council as we are underway with our Shoreline Management Planning (SMP) Project, which is focused on developing resilient coastal communities. Find out more about our Shoreline Management Planning on our website tcdc.govt.nz/coastal.