Park closure puts the boot into Kiwi businesses

The Government’s support of a rāhui preventing Kiwis exploring the Whirinaki Conservation Park is a kick in the teeth for tourism businesses who were counting on holidaymakers visiting the region this summer, National’s Tourism spokesperson Todd McClay says.

“Kiwis should be able to holiday in a national park or at a public lake like Waikaremoana without restriction. New Zealanders have done everything asked of them over the last two years and deserve the freedom to holiday where they please this summer.

“Putting restrictions on conservation land will mean Kiwis miss out on their summer holidays. A church group that runs an annual holiday programme in Whirinaki for underprivileged children will miss out this year because of these restrictions.

“Telling businesses to cancel bookings and turn away customers during a normally busy summer period will push these small businesses closer to failure. Local businesses will be left to bear the cost of restrictions, and many will consider whether to remain open. 

“Just last week, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan said that she did not believe the rāhui was necessary. Now, DOC says the Government department is ‘supportive of the intent behind the rāhui.’ New Zealanders deserve honest answers from this Government.

“In her final speech this year, the Prime Minister said New Zealanders ‘bloody deserve’ a wonderful break. Kiwis are tired of empty platitudes – it’s time for the Government to walk the walk and fix this situation before more tourism businesses close and Kiwis are locked out of their holidays.”