On Tuesday November 8 2016 New Zealand’s top Parks Agencies Managers, associate members and Generate members gathered at the Resort College in Queenstown for a strategic forum to discuss industry related topics.

Hosted by Queenstown Lakes District Council and sponsored by Asplundh Contractors, the meeting provided opportunities to network with a range of industry professionals and to engage in active conversations about what members are currently faced with in their area of work. The meeting would not have possible without the hard work and detailed assistance from Stephen Quinn and his parks team from Queenstown Lakes District Council. Stephen and his team sorted the venue, hosted us and sponsored the venue cost and assisted with all the set up and logistics.

The meeting provided participants with an update on the NZRA Green Flag Award programme in Australia and New Zealand, and a chance to take part in a specialist Parks Investment Working Group to explore and progress approaches to securing investment for the development and maintenance of parks. We also had an outstanding presentation from an Australian Parks Manager, Kristen Jackson from the City of Whittlesea, Victoria, Australia.

The occasion also saw the first Heads of Department meeting, which voted to continue and its February 2017 meeting will be held at Conservation House, Wellington, hosted by our National Parks Agency, the Department of Conservation (DOC). Also, an Investment in Parks Standing Committee was formed and the Heads of Department meeting for Parks Agencies was given the green light to continue. The Investment in Parks Standing Committee will look to have its first teleconference prior to the end of 2016 and eight volunteer managers have come forward.

The meeting adjourned and undertook a Peer Review session and field trip for the Queenstown Gardens and Queenstown Bay Development Plan, together with an overview of the Queenstown Lakes District Council Open Space Strategy.

Carlos shared that, “As a new comer to the industry it was a privilege to attend the Parks Agencies Managers Meetings in Queenstown. Learning about what leaders in the industry are working on and being a part of a nationwide discussion on a range of topics that everyone relates to. One of the main things that I took away from the meeting was an owe of how much everyone is willing to give and receive help”

To kick off the afternoon we heard from Phil Tisch who joined us from the Wanaka office of DOC to share DOC’s implementation of the recent Predator Free by 2050 project. The presentation went into depths on the techniques they are using, some of the research they have done so far into pest numbers and the identified pests in New Zealand. After Phil completed his presentation there was an open discussion on the test areas, pest controllers, past test records, funding strategies, tourism benefits and local community involvement in the project.

The Green Flag Award programme in Australia and New Zealand has seen the NZRA given the rights to award the Green Flag award. This involves, “Developing a standard in recreational sector from sports fields to benches and pathways and developing a database where people can easily source the information they need.”

A noteworthy part of the meeting was highlight for many of the ‘round table discussion’, involving all participants of the event. Participants have a time slot for sharing achievements and issues that they are facing in their area and opening up for discussion about each to positively support and contribute to everyone’s approach to bettering the industry.

Key sponsor, Martin Weaver of Asplundh opened the round table discussion by sharing the company’s drivers and also recent projects they have been involved in. This was followed by a range of topics like:

• Body cameras and screen monitoring – the positive effects it has had with park ranger and community interactions and the decreased level of confrontation and conflict on site.

• A rhetorical question asked by Christchurch City Council’s Park Manager Andrew Rutledge, “It is a good idea to think of what processes are in place if an ‘event’ was to happen in your city”. (Less than a week later the massive North Canterbury 7.8 Earthquake yet again brought tragedy and disaster recovery to New Zealand).

• Jude Rawcliffe raised the conversation about the 2017 Green Pavlova programme and its recent developments and next steps,

• Personal liability and issues from Health and Safety is a key importance industry wide

• ‘Pest free NZ’ is a project many councils are eager to hear of the government’s liaison plans for

• Various parks projects and funding announcements

• Canterbury concerns/ thoughts about building large sporting arenas to supply for demand when Christchurch is just over the bridge and could supply for demand

Kristen Jackson, from the City of Whittlesea, Australia shared about challenges faced in Australia and the correlation between Australian and New Zealand challenges agencies faced. Kristen spoke about two large artificial sports pitches that she has recently implemented in Whittlesea, with the main purpose of all year-round activity for use by local cricket and AFL teams. Following this presentation, discussion opened on the benefits and products used with the new sports facilities, including the concern for local community and traffic use. Within early days of the sports pitches being in operation they have been a success.

Kristen also touched on the preservation of the River Red Gum trees in Whittlesea and the impact that these 800-year-old trees have on the development of new and existing parks and residential areas in Whittlesea. Whittlesea also practice heat sink X-raying for the benefit of street trees to ‘air condition neighbourhoods.

The evening concluded with a 10-course meal at the local Blue Kanu Restaurant where networking and further in depth discussion about what people are up to and forwarding the industry took place.

Written by Carlos Charlton, Generate Member and Landscape Architect, of Geoff Canham Consulting. Carlos is now with BECA consultants. Carlos’ attendance was sponsored by the New Zealand Parks Agencies Managers Group.

Kristen Jackson, Manager of Parks and Open Spaces at Whittlesea City Council, Victoria, Australia

Stephen Quin, Parks & Reserves Planning Manager of QLDC

Martin Weaver of Asplundh

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