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Call to tighten New Zealand law that allows public pooing if no one watching | New Zealand

  • July 5, 2022

A New Zealand law allowing people to poo in public – so long as they do not think they are being watched – must be tightened, says a freedom camping association, amid long-running allegations that campers are to blame for much of the human waste in the natural environment.

It is currently an offense to defecate or urinate in a public place (other than in a public lavatory), but, if the person can show they had reasonable grounds for believing they were not being observed, they may be able to escape a $200 fine .

The Responsible Campers Association Inc argues the law should also require people to show they conducted their business at least 50 meters from a waterway and the waste is buried to at least 15cm.

“It is not so much the action which creates concern, but the visible after-effects,” said Bob Osborne, the group’s spokesperson.

The group started in 2017 to advocate for freedom campers – people who stay free of charge on public lands – on the basis that the mode of camping should not be targeted, but rather individuals behaving badly.

Freedom camping has hit the country’s headlines in recent years over concerns about its impact on the environment, especially when it comes to campers’ personal waste.

Reports regularly crop up in local media linking freedom campers to increases in excrement and toilet paper littering popular tourist destinations, while some local councils have opted to the campers tires from hotspots altogether.

Frictions between campers, locals and the government peaked in late 2020, when tourism minister Stuart Nash told the national broadcaster, RNZ, that freedom campers in non self-contained vehicles “pull over to the side of the road and … shit in our waterways” .

But Osborne said it was unfair to blame freedom

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