Responsible Campers Association wants pooping in public law change

Pooping in public
"There is no evidence linking any specific group to this undesirable practice." Photo credit: Getty Images

The Responsible Campers Association Inc (RCAi) has called for a change in Aotearoa's laws that allow someone to poop in public if they don't think they are being watched.

The group wants to see the law tightened amid accusations so-called freedom campers are overwhelmingly to blame for such pooing problems.

"There is no law in New Zealand that forces one to poop their pants if caught short, and RCAi believes minimising the more undesirable aftermath would be the most appropriate way of addressing the problem in the short term," the organisation said.

It has also called for more toilet facilities to be made available to travellers as the ideal long-term solution to the issue, calling for the Waka Kotahi, the NZ Transport Agency to fund these alongside state highways.

"At the moment section 32 of the Summary Offence Act provides a legal defence to a charge of urinating or defecating in a public place if a person believes they will not be observed," spokesperson Bob Osborne said.

"While many groups and NIMBYs like to blame freedom campers, there is no evidence linking any specific group to this undesirable practice which affects travellers every day all over New Zealand.

"As an advocacy group for freedom campers, it has been noted that it is not so much the action which creates concern, but the visible after effects."

The group's suggestion would see two additional clauses added to 'not being observed' before a defence to defecation could be presented.

They are that all waste must be buried to a depth of at least 15cm and that any "business" is done at least 50 metres from a waterway.

That would bring the law closer to what the Department of Conversation (DoC) recommends for anyone caught out while in the wilds of Aotearoa.

As well as burying any waste and doing it away from a waterway, DoC also advises using as little toilet paper as possible or using soft leaves or bark.

"Don't use bleached toilet paper or wet wipes. Bury your poo and all toilet paper with soil, filling the hole to the top," the website states.

At the moment, anyone who urinates or defecates in any public place other than a public library can be fined up to $200, if they don't prove they had "reasonable grounds for believing that he would not be observed".

RCAi said it had been "shocked" to find the need to highlight the issue, while defending against unjust allegations made about freedom campers, and specifically the suggestion that they were solely responsible for roadside and bush toileting.

"There remains no evidence pointing to any specific group and frankly, as a group, freedom campers are the least likely group to need to do so or at least recognise the need for burial," it said.