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Calls For New Zealand’s Public Pooping Law To Be Reviewed After Surge In Human Waste

It's currently perfectly legal apparently, so long as no one is believed to be watching.

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Rachael Funnell

Social Editor and Staff Writer

clockJul 4 2022, 14:14 UTC
toilet roll in the woods for public defecation
From legal loopholes to poop holes, the situation is kicking up a stink. Image credit: Simon Vayro / Shutterstock.com

If a camper poops in the woods and no one’s watching, does it make a mess? According to aggrieved New Zealanders yes, yes it does, and the act – which comes with unique legal loopholes – is threatening the security of the country’s waterways.

A perplexing rule in New Zealand means that, legally, if people are able to prove that they only pooped publicly because they were certain no one was watching them, they can swerve a $200 fine. However, in the face of what could be their busiest summer yet, with borders finally opening fully following the COVID-19 pandemic, some are arguing it’s time to tighten the rules around public defecation.

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A request to change the public pooping law comes from a camping association following reports that people enjoying the country’s wild spaces are leaving increasing volumes of toilet paper and human waste in their wake, and potentially even contaminating waterways. While public defecation is an offence under New Zealand law, the $200 fine it comes with can be waived if the person can show that they didn’t think anyone was watching.

However, the Responsible Campers Association (RCAi) announced on July 4 that they are trying to change this law to prevent human waste from accumulating to a hazardous degree during busy periods for the country’s tourism.

“At the moment section 32 of the Summary offence Act provides a legal defence to a charge of urinating or defecating in a public place if a person believes they will not be observed,” said spokesperson for the RCAi, Bob Osborne, in a statement.

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“As an advocacy group for freedom campers, it has been noted that it is not so much the action which creates concern, but the visible after effects. As such we seek a small change in Section 32.”

The requested change means that not only does a public pooper have to show that they believed that they weren’t being watched, but also that the business was conducted at least 50 meters (164 feet) from a waterway and buried at a minimum depth of 15 centimeters (6 inches).

While pooping is perfectly natural, where the brown stuff gets tricky is the fecal-oral route for disease transmission as one human’s waste becomes another’s infectious disease. Everything from SARS-CoV-2 to Ebola and skin-wriggling parasitic worms can infect us should we come into contact with contaminated feces, which is why keeping poop and waterways very much separate is of such high importance.

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As such, the RCAi hopes New Zealand’s government can work with them to create a set up in which people can relieve themselves without getting into – or making – a mess.

“There is no law in New Zealand that forces one to poop their pants if caught short, and RCAi believes minimizing the more undesirable aftermath, would be the most appropriate way of addressing the problem in the short term,” they said.

“Provision of more toilet facilities for the travelling public of New Zealand would be the most appropriate long term solution, with [New Zealand Transport Agency] funding such facilities along State- highways.”

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[H/T: Guardian]


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