Whirinaki Te Pua-a-Tane Conservation Park contains an ancient podocarp forests described by Professor David Bellamy in the 1980s as representing an internationally significant taonga (treasure).
To the iwi of Ngāti Whare, Whirinaki Te Pua-a-Tane is of enormous cultural and spiritual value, containing many wāhi tapu and other sites of significance, as well as being the habitat of numerous species of trees, plants, birds, fish and rongoā prized by Ngāti Whare. Other iwi and/or hapū and local communities also have strong connections with, and interest in the conservation, enjoyment and use of the Park.
Throughtout the Treaty Settlement Claims process, Ngāti Whare sought to establish an ongoing and active partnership with the Crown in relation to Whirinaki Te Pua-a-Tane Conservation Park. The Ngāti Whare Claims Settlement Act 2012 acknowledged the significance of the Park to the Ngāti Whare as kaitaiki (guardians) and provided for an on-going co-governance partnership.
Following the settlement, the Department o fConservation, Ngāti Whare and the Bay of Planty Conservation Board have worked together to produce a conservation management plan for Whirinaki Te Pua-a-Tane Conservation Park that will guide the future management of the Park.