MBIE review of the Adventure Activity Regulations

Recreation Aotearoa and Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) have been contributing to MBIEs Expert Reference Group (ERG) and attending a series of workshops. You can view the make up and kaupapa of the ERG here.

At each workshop, MBIE has submitted a series of 'issue-papers' on topics such as Natural Hazard risk; the role of the Regulator (WorkSafe); Mātauranga Māori in natural hazards; the audit and guidance system; public transparency and evaluation; and funding. After being subject to a process of critique and shaping, these issue papers will be rolled up in to a discussion document which MBIE will release as part of its public consultation process in the coming months. Recreation Aotearoa is encouraging its members and indeed anyone involved in the Adventure Activity sector to submit to that public consultation process. It is probably true that MBIE and WorkSafe would have to undertake a review of the Adventure Activity regime at some point in the next few years, but the Whakaari/White Island tragedy has brought it forward. It is absolutely true that the coming months will provide the sector with a very rare chance to influence the regime by which it is regulated.

In order to best reflect and advance the interests of our members and the sector as a whole Recreation Aotearoa has run a survey which may have come across your computer screen. Thanks to all those who took the time to complete that survey. Additionally, we have undertaken a series of long-form one-on-one interviews with a variety of operators, auditors, technical experts and senior leaders. This has really helped us crystalise and articulate the views we already held as well as glean new perspectives on various aspects of the Adventure Activity regime. Here are some of our observations so far.

  • There is general agreement that the Adventure Activity Regulations has improved safety over the last decade and that external audits by industry professionals is the best way to get an objective independent view of the safety of an Adventure Activity operation.
  • However, the role of qualifications is undervalued in the current system. Rigorous and respected qualifications should be given greater regard by the regulations.
  • Natural Hazards are generally well identified and managed. Safety Management Systems and the audit process give due credence to the risks that natural hazards present, currently. There is a wariness of a regulatory over-reaction or mis-targeted reaction to the Whakaari/White Island tragedy.
  • The audit process can be costly, especially for smaller operators. Any reform of the regulations should seek to minimise any cost increases or ideally, reduce costs for operators.
  • Activity Safety Guidelines (ASGs) and the SupportAdventure website on which they are held, are highly valued, especially be new entrants to the sector. The workshops and hui that were held in the formative years of the regime were helpful. There is a demand for more of that kind of collaboration and information sharing.
  • Advice received from auditors and technical experts is highly valued. The current regime limits the ability of auditors and technical experts to share knowledge and experience. This is regarded as a wasted opportunity.
  • Most operators do not fear some form of 'spot-checking' or mystery-shopper process, but it should not be at the cost of the operator and they should be ynderayke by someone with experience in the sector. There is a wariness around how such processes would work, operationally.
  • There is general, but not passionate, support for a range of notifiable events to be formulated and made compulsory to report. This would create a universal and useful data set from which to draw lessons.
  • Surveillance audits, while inexpensive, provide very little value to operators and do not enhance safety.

As soon as public consultation commences, we will let you know. It is really important that organisations and individuals take the time to submit their perspectives to MBIE, before any final decisions are made.

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