Association denies certification claims

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The New Zealand Motor Caravan Association has denied claims freedom campers buying motor caravans are told they need to join the association to get their self­containment certificate.
Responsible Campers Association (RCA) founder Bob Osborne, of Wellington, claimed hundreds of people were misled into believing they had to join the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association (NZMCA) in order to receive their certificate.
RCA was formed in 2017 to promote fairer camping for everybody, regardless of the mode of transport or affiliation to a particular club, Mr Osborne said.
‘‘This has been an ongoing issue where NZMCA have been holding themselves out as an authority under the self­containment standard.’’
He said many caravan and recreational vehicle dealers were telling customers ‘‘they have to join the NZMCA to be issued certificates’’.

NZMCA chief executive Bruce Lochore said Mr Osborne and his association were making ‘‘wild claims’’ that were unsubstantiated and were ‘‘not real’’.
The motor caravan association, founded in 1956, was able to issue certificates but Mr Lochore denied anyone was pressured to join the association to receive their certificate.
To be certified as self­contained, motor caravans and caravans must be able to contain waste and provide fresh water for at least three days.
The certificates could be issued by a registered plumber or an issuing authority.
Mr Osborne said a caravan dealer told him last November he had sold ‘‘literally a couple of hundred caravans and he told people they had to join the NZMCA to get the actual certificates’’.
Mr Osborne’s organisation had complained to the Commerce Commission, which asked for evidence.

A commission spokesman told The News no investigation about any such the claims was under way.
The commission had received two complaints which mentioned self­certification of camper vans and the NZMCA in December and February.
‘‘They are going through our usual complaint assessment process and no investigation is currently open,’’ he said.

Mr Lochore said Mr Osborne was ‘‘completely barking’’ about his claims there were hundreds who were being misled.
‘‘I dispute that. That is not the case.’’
He recounted one instance of a woman who complained a dealer had told her she had to join the NZMCA. She had been offered her money back.

Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes district councils spokespersons confirmed neither council had received complaints related to campers being asked to join the NZMCA.

The News spoke to freedom campers at Lake Dunstan last week and all said they obtained self-containment certificates as part of joining the NZMCA.
However, not all knew they could be issued by a registered plumber.
Margaret and John Cullen, of New Plymouth, said they knew NZMCA issued certificates but were not aware of any others who could supply them.
Jeff and Joy Davis, of Gisborne, said they received their certificate through the NZMCA but knew certified plumbers could also issue them.
Alan and Gael Watt, of Gisborne, said they were concerned some freedom campers simply printed certificates off the internet, and thought more needed to be done to ensure certificates were genuine.

 

Ministry not involved


No governing body directly manages the certification process of self-contained motor vans and caravans.
The New Zealand standard for self-containment of motor vans and caravans was amended in 2017 and the Ministry for the Environment no longer had direct involvement in managing the certification process, a spokewoman said.
The standard was voluntary and certification entities were not appointed by the Government.
‘‘Under the standard, a vehicle can be inspected by either a self-containment issuing authority or a qualified self-containment testing officer,’’ she said.
The most well-known issuing authorities for the self-containment certification in New Zealand were All Points Camping New Zealand and the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association, she said.
Qualified plumbers were eligible to certify compliance with the standard.
‘‘The standard also provides for other entities to be issuing authorities if they have a suitable scheme of qualification for testing officers,’’ she said.
‘‘If any party makes false claims about their eligibility to certify or that a vehicle has met the standard, a complaint could be taken to the Commerce Commission under the Fair Trading Act.’’