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Monday, 29 September 2014

Waitangi National Trust charges for the Treaty Grounds

Newly elected Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis thinks that the $15 fee for New Zealanders to visit the Treaty Grounds at Waitangi is "outrageous". I agree - like Te Papa, New Zealanders should be able to visit the Treaty grounds for free.

Overseas visitors pay $25 to visit. When my wife Jen and I visited the Treaty Grounds back in 2008, it was free for New Zealanders. We only had to show our drivers licenses to get in. From Saturday we would have to pay the $15. In its defence, the Trust that owns and operates the Treaty Grounds (the Waitangi National Trust) points out that it receives no government funding, and international tourist numbers have dropped as a result of the global financial crisis.

According to its 2013 annual report (from the Charities website), the Trust brought in $1.998m from ticket sales, tours and events at the grounds. There were small grants totaling $34,500 and interest and dividends of $427,000 for a total income of . That year, 100,000 people visited the grounds, 55% domestic and 45% international. The Trust made a loss of $298,835 for the 2013 year.

Extrapolating this out, assuming that the same number of people choose to visit the grounds regardless of the price, and that of the 55,000 domestic visitors at least half are adults, you'd net $412,500 in ticket sales at $15 a pop. The Trust would return to surplus with $114,000 to play with.