Mahanga Beach
Photo by Flickr

Locked gates over unformed legal roads

“The law is clear that landowners cannot put locked gates over unformed legal roads,” says Walking Access Commission chief executive Ric Cullinane. Landowners cannot put gates, locked or unlocked, on unformed legal roads without the permission of councils and if they do, the gate has to have a sign letting people know it continues to be public access.

The New Zealand Walking Access Commission Ara Hikoi Aotearoa is the Crown agent responsible for outdoor access issues.

Cullinane says the gate at the centre of the Mahia public access dispute is a shame.

"The council is doing a good job representing the law to the landowners. Locals and tourists have the right to walk freely on unformed legal roads.

Cullinane says the landowners are best to negotiate with locals and the council to find a solution that affirms that legal right but addresses some of the concerns the landowner might have.

"We have a lot of experience with these sorts of problems. There are often many other ways to address the concerns landowners have without removing people's outdoor public access - these might involve fences, signs or restrictions on some dangerous activities."

"We'd advise the landowner to give us a call so we can find a sustainable long-term solution that works better for everyone and gets the community and the landowner working together, rather than angry."