Understanding the rights and responsibilities relating to outdoor access can involve complex "shades of grey" situations. Sometimes landholders have genuine reasons for denying access to their land, sometimes the reasons are not so clear. Long-term access rights can change with new owners, or new developments, and lack of awareness can also lead to issues. The aim of the Both Sides of the Fence resource is to illuminate responsible behaviour and the rights of both parties.
The following are further activity suggestions. Teachers are encouraged to adapt them to suit their lesson plans, and the local needs and interests of their students.
Understanding different views
The eBook on this website is a valuable outdoor education resource that introduces the New Zealand Outdoor Access Code. The Outdoor Access Code provides information about responsible behaviour when accessing the outdoors. It explores the rights and responsibilities of those wanting to access land, and the rights and responsibilities of the landholder or managers.
Students could be asked to do the following activity:
- divide a large piece of paper into two columns – headed "wanting access" and "landholders/managers"
- identify a place where access is wanted - for example wanting access to a local busy farm to create a school mountain bike track
- working in groups or pairs, one group considers or roleplays the responsibilities of those wanting to access the land
- working in groups or pairs, the second group considers or roleplays the rights and expectations of the landholder or manager of the land
- each group lists these in the relevant column on the paper
- students then discuss the lists made by others in the class, and consider situations where views about access might differ
The art of negotiation
The Commission has regional advisors who can be called upon to help when there is an access issue. Finding a way where both parties can feel happy involves understanding both points of view, and being able to negotiate a solution.
Before using this resource, teachers might like to ask students to consider an area in their school or region which currently has restricted access, or has had in the past. Students could be encouraged to consider how the access rules were set, by whom and why.
This could be followed by discussion about the concept of fairness in providing access, and the rights of the landholder or manager in this area.
The role of maps
Being responsible in the outdoors can include being prepared and knowing where you will be going before setting out. Teachers might like to encourage students to consider the role of maps in this process. Maps can assist us in discovering the tracks, trails and places that are open to the public or where landholders have provided access.
Maps can also be used when exploring our local region or somewhere new - for example the planned location for an education outside the classroom (EOTC) activity, school camp, or a holiday.
The New Zealand Walking Access Commission has developed an online mapping system - the Walking Access Mapping System ( www.wams.org.nz) - to assist the public to identify land in New Zealand open to recreational access on foot, and to provide other access related information.
A first learning activity could be to use the Walking Access Mapping System to find your school, and to discover any recreational spaces in your region that people like to access. This approach could contextualise the concept of 'access' by associating what places students enjoy accessing in their school or local neighbourhood.
Identifying the Issues - Role play
Role play can be a useful tool for encouraging students to empathise with people in different situations, and to help them come up with possible solutions.
Students could be asked to work in pairs, or small groups, in the following way:
create two sets of character cards listing characters such as those featured in the Explore scenarios, or as listed below:
- set 1: a landholder, a farmer, a gardener, an orchardist, a representative from a marae
- set 2: a Crown land user, a tramper, a cyclist, a mountain biker, a fisherman, a camper, a walker, a swimmer, a runner/harrier, a school group, girl guides, boy scouts.
Ask the students in their pairs or groups to
- draw a card from each set
- identify an access issue that could occur between their two characters, or character groups
- write a scenario/script highlighting their chosen issue
- present their own access issue story in a way that will be interesting and thought-provoking for the other students
- role play their issue
Students could then be asked to swap issues and roleplay scenarios created by others in the class
- ask the rest of the class to become involved by acting as investigative journalists, asking the 'characters' relevant questions about their views of the access issue
- ask the students to suggest positive solutions that could work for both sides.
Planning an outdoor trip
You could consider undertaking this activity with your students as part of the lead up to a field trip, school camp, or before a planned tramp or other outdoor education activity:
- ask the students to use WAMS to find tracks and access routes to the intended location
- identify which areas and land are privately owned or are public
- see if there are any 'unformed legal roads' available
- identify any access issues that could occur
- consider what the Walking Access Code suggests as guidelines about rights and responsibilities
- consider contacting the landholders or managers who may have guidelines about the use of their land
- discuss drafting a letter to the landholder or manager seeking information and/or permission to access the land
Developing guidelines for negotiation
Wherever there are opposing points of view, effective negotiation is vital. This debate-based activity encouraging understanding of outdoor access issues may be worth considering for older age groups:
- brainstorm with the students any recent or past disputes about access to places in their region.
- they could research local news sources to find out about the history of the access, why access was an issue, and the points of view from both sides of the fence.
- in pairs, or in small groups, students could devise statements that open the way for rigorous debate. For example, these could begin.
* People should be allowed to….
* People should not be allowed to….
- students could be asked to form debating teams, and to debate one of the issues using the rules of a fair debate.
Alternatively, students could be asked to develop a set of guidelines that encourage positive negotiation. These could be used to help people on 'both sides of the fence' to reach resolution and consensus. Students could consider:
- are there rules?
- is anyone in charge?
- persuading - through logic and argument
- suggesting compromise
Creating posters and fliers
Conflict may be avoided and issues resolved easily if facts are communicated in an informative, reasonable, and timely fashion. Posters and fliers are versatile and easily circulated. Students could be asked to:
- create posters or fliers that educate and encourage responsible behaviour in the outdoors.
This could be part of a class or school-wide competition. Your students could develop a rubric outlining the requirements of a successful collaborative poster.
The following propositions could be developed into a full teaching and learning unit based on the BCUSS Social Inquiry model.
- "Everyone in New Zealand is is entitled to access the outdoors"
- "People have differing views about entitlement to access"
Adapt the ideas, issues and activities to suit the specific needs of your students.