PHOTO: MATTHEW TSO/STUFF – Glenn Carr, from Wainuiomata, is a caretaker of Omaio hut and loves bringing his family and friends out to the hut. Having fun and socialising with other hut members was a big part of the hut community.

A community of huts tucked away in the hills near Wainuiomata could be lost within 20 years if a licence arrangement with the Department of Conservation is not changed.

More than 50 private huts in the Orongorongo Valley, in the southern reaches of the Rimutaka Forest Park, are held under special  DOC licences and are set to expire in 2050 or upon the death of the licence holder, at which point they pass into the ownership of DOC.

Marcus Coomer, president of the Orongorongo Club – an association of hut licence holders, caretakers and users –  said the average licence holder was now aged in their 60s or 70s.