Clark has no memory of Hollyford road change

Helen Clark.
Helen Clark.
Former minister of conservation Helen Clark says she has ''no recollection whatsoever'' of the Haast-Hollyford road reserve being removed from maps during her tenure.

Those wanting to build a toll road along the route through South Westland, from near Haast to near Milford Sound, have been questioning government departments in recent weeks over how the road reserve came to be removed.

Their focus has narrowed to the period around 1989 when Ms Clark was minister of conservation (August 1987 to January 1989) in the fourth Labour government led by David Lange.

An April 21 post on the Friends-of-the-Haast-Hollyford-Highway facebook site pointed the finger directly at Ms Clark.

It said it had been ''confirmed'' the transfer of the map to the electronic database was completed in 1989, and that was when the road reserve between Cascade and the Pyke River disappeared from official maps.

''Investigation now is focused on the actions of the Labour Minister of Conservation in 1989 and her counterpart in land information and what instructions were given by whom in relation to the line's removal and non-inclusion in the electronic cadastre.''

Doc administers the land either side of the route of the proposed toll road.

Ms Clark is now administrator of the United Nations Development Programme and is based in New York.

The full response received by the ODT from Ms Clark's office yesterday read: ''Helen Clark has no recollection whatsoever of the matter referred to.

She also notes that she ceased to be minister of conservation on January 30, 1989.''

Haast Hollyford Highway Ltd project co-ordinator Bruce Smith said yesterday: ''Look, she says she knows nothing about it. And that's great''.

Asked if he took Ms Clark at her word, Mr Smith said he was awaiting an Official Information Act request for documents from Doc.

''Once we have been provided the information, we will be able to make an informed comment on whose finger is in the pie.''

Mr Smith has provided the ODT with a 1976 letter supporting his belief there was a legal road reserve.

The letter was from the Chief Surveyor in Hokitika, Mr O.L. Amor, to the resident engineer of the Ministry of Works and Development.

Mr Amor wrote the Public Works Act of 1882 defined a road as ''being a public highway whether carriageway, bridle path or footpath'' and his conclusion was the road ''would be legal'' under Section 110a of the Act.

Letters from various government officials at the time contained the same conclusion.

 

mark.price@odt.co.nz

How many others?

How many other roads have been whited out in the hope that over time they will be forgotten?