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5 June 2020

The New Zealand tourism industry is suffering right now.

The closure of our borders with the rest of the world (unless you're somehow involved in the movie industry and can cosy up to the right politicians before dazzling them with your limelight). This means that the steady stream of international visitors that used to fill our hotels and queue for the many tours and attractions we have to offer -- has gone. Instead, our tourism industry will have to make do with domestic tourists and their much thinner wallets.

With this in mind, I thought I'd take a look around and see what was on offer.

To be honest, I didn't find much to surprise (except the prices -- OMG NZ tourism attractions are expensive!).

However I did find one thing that gobsmacked me... a lot!

Apparently nothing is free any more in this country, or at least not around Lake Taupo.

Read on and weep...

During my research, I stumbvled across the Love Taupo website and thought I'd check out the offerings.

It's all pretty standard fare with lots of pretty pictures promoting the region as a tourist destination and showcasing the many attractions that are to be found there.

And then I stumbled on this page.

Now as someone who has great interest in making videos and getting pictures of bits of New Zealand that I can then use to promote the country through my YouTube channels, a page that is titled "Filming in Taupo" obviously caught my eye.

What I wasn't prepared for was the fact that it would seem I'd need to pay all sorts of money (and koha) to obtain permits and approvals to do any kind of video filming or photographs in the area.

Yes, the page starts out by mentioning "large-scale film productions" but then it goes on to say "Any filming or photography undertaken on Māori owned land or in areas of significant cultural importance particularly mountains, rivers and lakes, will require support of local iwi/hapu".

"Any filming or photography"?

I don't know of any photograpy that requires large numbers of people, crew or equipment of the scale that film production requires so that's a surprise.

The page also states:

"Project coordinators will need to consult with iwi about the proposed project, especially around any intended use of the content and whether any indigenous history, stories and legends will be shared in the production. Consultation also applies to photography."

It seems also that if you want to film on the water (the lake or rivers) then youj'll also need to apply for permission and wait up to 60 days, with no guarantees that you'll get that permission.

What's more, the page goes on to say "To film anything for commercial purposes on public conservation land, you must have a concession from the Department of Conservation. Depending on what you plan to do, when and how you want to do it, you will either need a one-off concession or a longer-term concession. The concession application process may also require iwi consultation".

So, if I'm filming or photographing with a view to putting that imagery on my monetized YouTube channels and receiving compensation for that then my activities are arguably "commercial" and I'd need to go through all this red tape to get permission.

I can understand this farting around if you're one of those blessed "movie industry" types who want to bring scores of people onto the land and make millions... but what happens if I'm just a YouTuber who would, at beast, make a few tens of dollars from my videos?

And just in case you're thinking "no, this won't apply to one guy with a camera", I went to the Tuwhareatoa Maori Trust Board's website and found this:

"Individuals, Organisations or Companies wanting to conduct filming or photography on Taupo Waters will need to complete a Filming and Photography Application form which will need to address the guidelines contained in the policy document."

The application fee is a mere $250 and further consultation, if required, will invoke a fee of just $150 per hour.


But surely my minor commercial use for my "monetized" YouTube channel would be exempted... right?

Well no, apparently not. The only exemption from the daily charge applies to: "Student production or Charity, TV News & Current Affairs or Tuwharetoa in-house Funded Productions" -- and even those seem to require the payment of some koha.

Commercial activity is clearly defined as:

"A Commercial activity is any which is undertaken by any entity or individual, on Taupō Waters, which produces or supports the production of, any product, or any service, for which charges or fees are imposed, on any private individual or body, or any public body, for the gain or reward of that entity or individual"

Which pretty much guarantees that a YouTuber like myself making video for reward. even though the goal is to promote the district, would be deemed "commercial" and have to pay not only the application fee ($250) but also the minimum daily fee of $300.

Seriously... does anyone really think I'm going to part with $550 just to make a 4 minute video that would (at best) return me about $10-$15?

Ah well, so much for that idea. I guess Taupo's tourism industry doesn't need MY help after all -- and perhaps now we understand why the prices are so high. Simple greed.

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