MBIE: Adventure Activity Regulations Review

Many Recreation Aotearoa members will be familiar with the Adventure Activity Regulations, which have been in effect in New Zealand for almost a decade now. Indeed, many of our members organisations are Adventure Activity providers and are thus required to have their Safety Management Plans audited in accordance with the regulations.

Recreation Aotearoa has been contributing to a targeted review by MBIE of the adventure activities regime. The review ran from August to December last year and had a major focus on the role of natural hazards in adventure activities - clearly a response to the tragic incident on Whakaari/White Island.

WorkSafe has released its findings from phase 1 of the review. At 28 pages, including annexes, it is relatively (and mercifully) short and worth a read for Outdoor Recreation professionals.

Pleasingly, MBIE has concluded that the Adventure Activity Regulations and their legislative framework are working as intended. Safety standards have improved and there has been a downtrend in fatalities.

MBIE also concluded that the scheme could be improved identified by WorkSafe strengthening its regulatory leadership role. Recreation Aotearoa would welcome this, as it has been our observation that ourselves and Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) have worked above and beyond our remit (and resourcing) as industry associations, to support the implantation of the regime.

MBIE noted that the safety audits should include a greater focus on natural hazards and that improvements could be made to the actual mechanics of the certification scheme.

Phase 2 of the review, yet to commence will consider broader and more systemic issues identified in the targeted review. The most interesting questions will be around the financial sustainability of the two remaining certification bodies and what it would mean if either or both withdrew from the market. At a more fundamental level, it will also consider whether third-party auditors should be used at all. Should WorkSafe conduct the audits themselves?

Recreation Aotearoa will be seeking a greater commitment from the government to support the work it does in partnership with TIA. The provision and maintenance of the SupportAdventure website is a significant cost, as is the development and maintenance of the Activity Safety Guidelines (ASGs) on the site.

Recreation Aotearoa will continue to highlight the financial burden of the audit and certification process to government. The case for government funding is strong. Margins are tight, many adventure activity providers are non-profit and there is a vast array of economic, social and environmental spill-over benefits attributable to the adventure activity sector.

This review is also an opportunity for Recreation Aotearoa to continue to advocate that having qualified staff is essential to the professionalism and safety within the adventure tourism sector. Flowing on from that, is the importance of having accessible qualifications that are fit for purpose.

Webinar: MBIE Review of the Adventure Activity Regulations
When: Thursday 25 February 2021, 2:30 - 3:30pm

Join us for a webinar in which we explore the findings of the MBIE Review of Adventure Activity Regulations, what they mean for your operation and where to from here. Join us as we 'plain-language' them for you and take a look at the tea-leaves for what the future holds.

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