Barbara Stuart returns to the NZWAC board

Nelson farmer and outdoor-access supporter Barbara Stuart has been appointed to the Board of the New Zealand Walking Access Commission.

The appointment heralds Mrs Stuart's second tenure on the board, where she previously served from 2008 to 2011.

New Zealand Walking Access Commission chairman John Forbes said Mrs Stuart had long been a champion of walking access and her return was very welcome.

“Barbara shares our values and our commitment to improving outdoor access for New Zealanders. She and her husband Ian have achieved a great deal over the past few decades, through building strong relationships within and outside their community,” Mr Forbes said.

In 2013, Mrs Stuart and her husband Ian received one of four Walking Access Awards for their contributions towards improving public access to New Zealand's outdoors.

The Stuarts were among the first private landowners to create a formal public walkway across their farm when Ian's father established the Cable Bay Walkway in 1984. Their property near Nelson also has three covenanted areas of coastal bush, totalling 200 hectares, and a family-owned holiday park enjoyed by people from all over New Zealand.

Mr Forbes said Mrs Stuart and her family exemplified the New Zealand landholder tradition of granting access to those who asked permission to access their property. They often received requests from recreational groups that wished to cross their property, whether they be climbers who came to scale the bluffs, or hunters, kayakers and 4WD groups wanting to explore the area.

Over the past two decades, the Stuarts had also supported and contributed to the work of organisations such as Rural Women New Zealand, Federated Farmers, the New Zealand Landcare Trust, schools, the Tasman Environmental Trust and the Horoirangi Marine Reserve Management Board.

“Barbara's support of her local and rural community, and her tireless efforts to encourage a collaborative approach among the different parties that have a stake in how local walkways are used, have meant better access, and more enjoyment for walkers,” Mr Forbes said.

Mrs Stuart will replace outgoing board member Maggie Bayfield, whose contribution to the board since the Commission's establishment in 2008, and beforehand on the Walking Access Consultation Panel, was immense, Mr Forbes said.

“During her time on the board, Maggie has actively championed our cause and helped us advance some major projects, including the Walking Access Mapping System, Enhanced Access Fund and Outdoor Access Code,” he said.