Outdoors champion appointed to NZ Walking Access Commission board
Respected outdoors advocate Robin McNeill has been appointed to the board of the New Zealand Walking Access Commission.
The Southlander is the Enterprise Projects Manager at Venture Southland and the immediate past president of Federated Mountain Clubs, where he has had two decades of involvement in outdoor sector issues as a keen tramper, mountaineer, occasional hunter and member of the organisation’s executive.
He served for ten and a half years on the Southland Conservation Board, and has worked closely with NZWAC as a member of the technical advisory committee for the Walking Access Mapping System – a website that shows publicly accessible land in New Zealand.
Mr McNeill said he was looking forward to contributing to NZWAC’s work to enhance outdoor access in New Zealand and protect it for future generations. The Commission’s role was becoming even more vital as visitor numbers rose and New Zealand’s access infrastructure faced increased pressure from greater use, he said.
“I’ve long been a staunch advocate for the New Zealand Walking Access Commission because it has an extremely important role, and it has very high credibility among both landholders and outdoor users,” Mr McNeill said.
“Access to our backcountry is dear to my heart, but it can sometimes be difficult to know who to contact and when for permission, and how to find out about where access is available. Often what is needed is an honest broker like the New Zealand Walking Access Commission to make sure information is available and the needs of all sides are taken into account when access is being created or disputes arise.”
NZWAC Chairman John Forbes welcomed Mr McNeill’s appointment to the Board.
“Robin has a lot of mana in the outdoor sector. His expertise will be a valuable addition and will play a vital role in helping the board to ensure the Commission continues to enhance access opportunities and strengthens our country’s access culture and heritage.”
In addition to his work in the outdoors sector, Mr McNeill is a celebrated engineer and award-winning ‘rocket scientist’. He has been instrumental in developing broadband and space exploration opportunities in the Southland region and earlier this year was presented the 2016 Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand Rabone Award for Information, Communication, Electrical and Electronic Technology.