November 3, 2010

Beyond the Waikumete incident

Whenever boy racers are asked why they act as they do on our roads, one reason usually given is "because there's nowhere else to go". Other reasons are that it's fun and it pisses-off "authorities" which range from the police, to parents, to anyone over 30. Last night, viewers of TV One's Close Up programme were probably appalled, and rightly so, that a 21 year old had taken his father's elderly Toyota Surf and done some urban off-roading in the huge and obviously inviting Waikumete Cemetery, driving over graves and leaving some fairly serious ruts. He was caught by hidden cameras.

I suspect that there's some of the boy racer reasoning behind this awful transgression – of all places to try urban off-roading! – in that there are few opportunities to go four-wheel-driving in this SUV-laden newly-combined city of 1.4 million, and it's getting worse all the time. One by one, local authorities took away access to paper roads that provided some opportunities if you knew where they were. Beach access has been restricted, or threatened. Access to the local forests has for the most part been curtailed. The Jeep Woodhill 4WD Park has opened, but the Extreme 4WD Park has closed. Even clubs are often found scratching their heads over locations for trips.

Over the years, the organised 4WD movement has made sensible approaches to local bodies, including the Auckland Regional Council, for permission to use some "rubbish" land that's good for little else but off-roading. These approaches came to nothing. Perhaps recreational 4WD enthusiasts need to get in the public's face a bit more because lack of off-roading opportunities will only lead to further incidents like the one at Waikumete.


  1. So glad I live in Timaru -- wide open spaces and lots of places to go four-wheeling without desecrating cemeteries.

  2. It's stretching the point to say that because 4WD opportunities are limited in Auckland people are going to start trashing cemeteries. And have you considered that the guy who was caught in Waikumete was just wanting to trash something and had no interest at all in 4WDing, as such?