What’s happened at the Dept. of Conservation?

What’s happened at the Dept. of Conservation?

Let me put it another way – When did DOC become just another  revenue grabbing government department ?

The Joe Average NZ citizen used to hold several of the countries government departments in very high standing – the Police, Dept of Conservation, Tourism & Primary Industries. Some departments are less highly rated – IRD, Army, Work & Income to name a few. Well after years of doing amazing things & being on the top podium, DOC are on a very slippery slope to being very un-cool. Now I hear you asking yourself – what’s Houghton on about?. Well read the story below. But first a wee story – I sat on a plane to Wellington a few years ago alongside a very senior police officer – he told me the public’s rating & trust in the police force took a huge dive when they merged with the traffic department. A dive that they have never recovered from, Joe Average (mostly) only ever has positive experiences with the police force. Post the merge the nice local police officer was writing them tickets for minor traffic misdemeanors.

A loud warning to those who are in the habit of trawling a lure while underway in the off chance of bringing in a kahawai… or better still, kingi.

While cruising in glorious weather down to the bottom end of Waiheke last Easter weekend we noticed a largish inflatable approaching us from the starboard quarter with the two aboard furiously taking snap shots, a common occurrence when you own a classic vessel. We politely waved and carried on. The inflatable drew alongside, the couple raised their hands and ordered loudly and officially to “Stop your vessel! Stop your vessel!”  of which we did. Noticing the customary khaki DOC uniforms it suddenly dawned that we were in a spot of trouble. The ultimate sin of trawling into a marine reserve had been committed. The photo taking wasn’t in admiration of our dearly beloved classic launch after all but to provide evidence of our bending, albeit fish less rod dragging through the water of which was immediately wound in. We politely obliged to the female DOCs’ authoritative request to come aboard. She appeared somewhat surprised to find the cockpit bereft of anything remotely fishy or suspicious, not even so much as a net or fish box was in evidence. After what seemed like a lifetime of lengthy questioning and much note taking they were finally satisfied that whilst we were aware of the marine reserve we had completely forgotten to take in our offending lure. Regardless, we had unlawfully trawled into marine reserve waters and had thereby committed an offence.

Friday evening 9th June, a court summons from DOC was hand delivered to our front door. Enclosed, if we wished to accept, was a diversion agreement to be completed and returned with a “donation” by 15th June. Failing to comply would lead to a court appearance or at worst, arrest. Of course we admitted our “offence”, completed and returned the diversion without delay and paid: (1) Reparation costs $250 to DOC  (2) Donation to Project Jonah of $400.00. TOTAL $650.00

Now, whilst we had no alternative but to plead guilty to the charge and ultimately pay a “fine/donation” to a worthy cause the like of Project Jonah, it does seem somewhat unfair that there are many out there who blatantly and regularly take undersized fish, reap more than the given quota etc. and yet somehow manage to sneak under the radar.

The moral of the story is be aware of marine reserves especially while towing a line.

This folks is an incredible example of the abuse of authority – all this misdemeanor deserved was a written warning. Action like this will only turn people off DOC, when a boatie sees a genuine case of law breaking i.e. under size or excessive catch happening, they may now be hesitant to ‘dob’ the offenders in.

Normally I would suggest we all write to the Minister of Conservation but folks the incumbent is none other than Ms. Maggie Barry – so do not waste your time – she is what they call around parliament ‘an oxygen thief’ 😦

12 thoughts on “What’s happened at the Dept. of Conservation?

  1. Well Alan, it seems to me that you don’t have to pay that “donation” at all since, based on the decision some years ago about the demanded school fee ‘donations’, it is not a donation if 1) the amount is specified and 2) it is a a requirement. Hence you have paid an ‘instant fine’ – which is possibly not legal?

    Re Maggie Barry – being our local MP, she is considered around here to be as you say – good at converting good oxygen in to Latin plant names, but otherwise just a colonel in the regime that a minority voted for.


  2. Next time you are down there, Alan, put about eleven rods out off the transom and steam straight through the reserve. When confronted by Baggie Mary and her henchwomen slowly wind your lines in showing that they don’t have a lure on the end. “Is there some sort of a problem, Orifices?”


  3. Next time you are down there, Alan, put about eleven rods out off the transom and steam right through the reserve. When Baggie Mary and her henchwomen challenge you, slowly wind the lines in showing that they don’t have a lure on the end. ” Is there some sort of a problem, Orifices?”


  4. $650, $500 for unwittingly dragging a lure; you pretty much need to break the speed of sound in your car in a school zone to get an equivalent fine which is a huge risk and DIRECT danger. Which is the greater offence??



  5. Since when was DOC in charge of fisheries .I wouldn’t stop for DOC .I would stop for MPI fisheries officers though.


  6. Same happened to me with doc i saw a boat with what appeared to be a dropper float in the water nearby.i went to tell them it was a reserve forgot i had a small lure behind,the float and boat was doc and they fined me $500.i now hate doc will never support them again and put a warning call over the radio whenever i see them.


  7. Yes, I never got a response from Maggie Barry when I complained of her using her position to try to affect the voting on the replacement flag referendum. Hers was the classic “referral to authority”, when in fact her opinion was no more valid than mine. Yes, “oxygen thief” is a good description. She should have stayed in her garden!


  8. Oh btw, don’t even think of taking your dog ashore at Mansion House bay. An over-nourished DOC khaki wearer will erupt form wherever she was and likely threaten your dog with being shot if you so much as speak. Poor old Caesar, he was mortified……


  9. Baggie Marry would be unlikely to give a continental fcuk about it. I mean, how hard do you have to work warming yer arse in a really safe National seat. Well I guess it is hard to say “That’s a procedural matter and I can’t comment” or “No comment” especially when you are a lousy gardener an a bit dull anyhow. Over paid under achiever.
    But yep, rules is rules and no matter whether a woodie or tupperware or rusty trawler. You’s breakin’ de law sonny and gotta pay.


  10. Times have change!
    My great grandfather Captain Charles Daniel (on the ANZAC) worked for the Marine Dept. and ended up a Fisheries Inspector then the Senior Fisheries Inspector in the 1930-mid 40’s covering the Waitemata Harbour.
    Even then – he was reprimanded folk who delighted in the bounty from the harbour, either under size out of season or just simply more than a fair share (Oysters were most commonly taken). A fine of 10 pounds and a court appearance was the recommend punishment, however after the run in with the “old salt” (the sheer size of the man was enough to frighten most) and with a promise not to over step again, the said bounty was duly confiscated (this was disposed of by the Daniel clan round the dinner table) and perpetrators were left to go on their way.
    He always said that the paper work and court time was too much bother and a waste of time, the result being he hardly ever issued fines or went to court, but he and his family did eat well!
    I dear say he may have taken these officers aside and had a word in their ear.


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