In the “Stewart Island/Rakiura Conservation Management Strategy and Rakiura National Park Management Plan 2011-2021

The purpose of the Eastern/Tai Rāwhiti Place is to achieve the integrated management of conservation lands in the south-eastern part of Stewart Island/Rakiura outside of Rakiura National Park. The Place contains land under a variety of tenures, such as nature and scenic reserves, conservation stewardship land, and Māori land administered on behalf of its collective owners by the Rakiura Māori Land Trust Incorporated (RMLT). The RMLT is an Ahu Whenua Trust established under the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993.

This Place comprises four distinct but interrelated sections:

The RMLT buffer (administered by the Department of Conservation) - comprises the remaining portion of the Pegasus Nature Reserve and areas of conservation stewardship land. The Pegasus Nature Reserve (established in 1907) formerly covered most of southern Stewart Island/Rakiura, but most of this became part of Rakiura National Park in 2002. These lands could be used for future boundary adjustments in accordance with the provisions of part 15 of the Ngāi Tahu Claims Settlement Act 1998. For this document some submitters sought for the Department of Conservation to unify the land status of the public conservation lands within this Place.

RMLT lands (administered primarily by the RMLT) - these lands comprise four areas of Māori land administered primarily by the RMLT on behalf of its beneficial owners. Three of these blocks are the Lords River block, Toi Toi block, and Port Adventure block. This land was provided to Māori under the South Island Landless Natives Act 1906. The RMLT administers much of the land in the fourth area of Māori land at The Neck, which is within the boundaries of the Eastern/Tai Rāwhiti Place.

A settlement was negotiated between the Crown and the RMLT on 9 October 1999 for the Lords River block. This settlement was given effect by the Tutae-ka-wetoweto Forest Act 2001, which states that the RMLT is tāngata whenua and beneficial owners with the rights of ownership, possession and use of the Lords River block. However, this block is subject to a conservation covenant (under the Reserves Act 1977) which seeks that this land be managed with similar objectives to those of a national park. The RMLT prepared the Tutae-ka-wetoweto Forest Management Plan in 2003 to guide its management.

Some parts of the Lords River block are owned/administered by other individuals and organisations.

The boundaries, management, and final ownership of the Toi Toi and Port Adventure blocks have not yet been settled:

  • The East Coast reserves (administered by the Department of Conservation) - these reserves comprise the remaining conservation land in the Eastern/Tai Rāwhiti Place.
  • The Neck wildlife viewing sites (administered by the Department of Conservation) - this part of the Eastern/Tai Rāwhiti Place comprises part of the Glory Cove Scenic Reserve and the conservation stewardship area at the Old Sand Neck, both of which receive high use as sites for wildlife viewing. For continuity with the RMLT-administered lands on the greater portion of The Neck, these sites fall within with the Eastern/Tai Rāwhiti Place, but their usage is more similar to sites in the Oban/Paterson Place. The management of these sites will be as frontcountry recreational opportunities.

2.4.1 Spatial definition of the Eastern/Tai Rāwhiti Place

Map 12 - The eastern/tai rāwhiti place

The Eastern/Tai Rāwhiti Place (see Map 12) is made up of the following distinct sections:

The RMLT buffer:

  • Pegasus Nature Reserve (nature reserve)
  • Stewart Island Forest (stewardship land), south of Kopeka River and at Port Adventure
  • Lords River (stewardship land), east of Toi Toi Flat
  • Lords River (stewardship land), north of Lords River/Tūtaekawetoweto
  • Lords River (stewardship land), above Tutaepawhati Bay
  • Port Adventure Forest (stewardship land)
  • Shelter Point (stewardship land)
  • Owen Head (stewardship land).

The RMLT lands:

  • the Lords River block
  • the Port Adventure block
  • the Toi Toi block
  • Māori lands at The Neck.

The Toi Toi Wetland has a Deed of Recognition and Statutory Acknowledgement placed on it under the Ngāi Tahu Claims Settlement Act 1998. Most of this area is outside of public conservation land, but the northern portion of the wetland crosses into the remnant Pegasus Nature Reserve. The Deed of Recognition applies to the part of this wetland that is on public conservation land, whereas the statutory acknowledgement applies to the collectively owned Māori land and provides for advocacy under the Resource Management Act 1991.

The East Coast reserves:

  • Glory Cove Scenic Reserve (excluding the kiwi protection area defined in the Glory Cove Scenic Reserve Bylaws 2005)
  • East Cape Scenic Reserve
  • Port Adventure Scenic Reserve
  • Port Adventure Islands Scenic Reserve (three small islands within Port Adventure)
  • Lords River Islands Scenic Reserve (two small islands at the mouth of Lords River/Tūtaekawetoweto, and one island off Owen Head).

The Neck wildlife viewing sites:

  • the part of the Glory Cove Scenic Reserve defined as the kiwi protection area in the Glory Cove Scenic Reserve Bylaws 2005
  • The Neck conservation area.

2.4.2 Rationale for the Eastern/Tai Rāwhiti Place

Conservation General Policy defines a ‘Place’ as an area identified for the purposes of integrated conservation management. The Eastern/Tai Rāwhiti Place has been determined by:
  • boundaries and land status - specifically those conservation lands in the south-eastern part of Stewart Island/Rakiura outside of Rakiura National Park that are adjacent to the lands administered by the RMLT;
  • commonality of management considerations - identification of high conservation values including national park values and similar management issues across the legal boundaries;
  • major recreation and tourism destination - mainly as a hunting destination;
  • unique management needs - conservation management issues such as possums, deer, cats and rats do not respect property boundaries. As such there is a specific need to:
    • integrate the management of public conservation land with the management of Rakiura National Park;
    • integrate the management of public conservation land with adjacent lands administered by the RMLT, under a formal relationship with the Trust.

Therefore while the boundaries of this Place are distinct legal boundaries (comprising all conservation lands in the south-eastern part of Stewart Island/Rakiura outside of the National Park), in order to achieve integrated conservation management it is practical to include all lands within the scope of this Place. The Department of Conservation seeks to work closely with the RMLT in relation to the lands that it administers, in order to achieve integrated management of the Eastern/Tai Rāwhiti Place.

2.4.3 Natural resources

The Eastern/Tai Rāwhiti Place is part of southern Stewart Island/Rakiura, and its landscape and ecology form part of this wider area.

Geologically, the south-eastern part of Stewart Island/Rakiura is subject to a slow tilting as the land is uplifted towards the west. The land is primarily granite in origin. As a result of these tectonic forces, the area contains a number of drowned former river valleys, such as Tikotatahi Bay, Tutaepawhati Bay and Big Kuri Bay.

The lower reaches of the Lords River/Tūtaekawetoweto also contain a drowned valley system extending up to eight kilometres inland from the coast. Behind the shoreline, the land is undulating in character, containing numerous small river systems and streams.

The exposed coastal sections of this part of Stewart Island/Rakiura are dominated by muttonbird scrub (puheretaiko), which undergoes a transition into virgin podocarp forest approximately 500 metres back from the coast. This lowland forest dominates and is unique due to minimal modification in the past.

The sections of forest in the south-eastern part of the Island are also remarkably free of introduced weeds when compared to other places on Stewart Island/Rakiura. The Tutae-ka-wetoweto Forest Act 2001 outlines that the Tutae-ka-wetoweto is to be managed as if it is National Park. However, the RMLT is responsible for the management of this land.

By a Deed of Covenant dated 9 October 1999, the Crown and the RMLT agreed that the RMLT would manage the Forest in perpetuity, in accordance with the covenant:

  1. to preserve the natural environment, landscape, amenities, wildlife, freshwater, and historic values of the Forest; and
  2. to recognise that the Forest contains scenery of such distinctive quality, and ecological systems and natural features so beautiful, unique, or scientifically important that the Forest should be preserved in perpetuity for its intrinsic worth and for the benefit, use, and enjoyment of not only members of the RMLT, but also the wider public, as if it were a national park; and
  3. to provide, subject to a management plan to be prepared under the Deed of Covenant, freedom of access to the Forest for the New Zealand public;

and the Act.

The Toi Toi Wetland, which has a Deed of Recognition placed on it by the Ngāi Tahu Claims Settlement Act 1998 as well as Statutory Acknowledgement under the Resource Management Act 1991, is of significant natural character due to its unmodified state. This also applies to part of the Toi Toi River which drains the wetland.

The coastal marine area is of extremely high natural character, with few structures. Lords River/Tūtaekawetoweto is a popular anchorage in a picturesque drowned valley. Port Adventure has shallow inter-tidal and subtidal flats, with remnant oyster and scallop beds. Offshore, there are several reef systems.

2.4.4 Historical and cultural heritage

Throughout Stewart Island/Rakiura there are sites of high cultural and spiritual values and the south-eastern part of Stewart Island/Rakiura is no exception. There are old trails across the island, mainly associated with the seasonal harvest of the southern tītī. Sheltered bays with good landings have been occupied by people travelling the coast to reach the tītī islands and to take advantage of the other resources of the Island.

This Place was important in the early years of interaction between Māori and Europeans. It is probable that sealers frequented this coast in the early part of the 1800s, operating from temporary camps while away from their more permanent establishments at places like Port William/Potirepo.

One such individual, James Joss, a whaler, became an important early settler and community member in the 1830s. James lived first in Glory Cove and later on The Neck, alongside Māori, offering fresh food as trade for passing ships, as well as running a store of other goods, milling some timber, building ships, and possibly doing some whaling.

Potiwetata (Port Adventure) was the site of a small settlement of about 36 people who had come from The Neck in 1843. It was at this settlement that Taranaki Māori and Chatham Island Moriori sought refuge after their 12 challenging years at the Auckland Islands.

The oyster industry also had a brief foray in Port Adventure, but over-exploitation soon led to its demise.

It was also here that the survivors of the wreck of the Grafton in the Auckland Islands first made landfall, during their incredible self rescue in a converted ship’s boat (a small boat carried on board a ship). In the late 1800s, Mr C Hansen led a shipbuilding enterprise here.

Parts of this area were set aside as pastoral runs - number 498 at Lords River/Tūtaekawetoweto and number 539 at Port Adventure. Run 498 was not taken up before it was cancelled and included in the Lords River South Island Landless Natives Act Block. Run 539 was issued in 1911 to Henry Roderique who held it until 1931.

Limited sawmilling was undertaken on the southern side of Paterson Inlet/Whaka a Te Wera by Mr Mackie at Hapuatuna, and then in South-west Bay. There has been no development of these areas since their designation for the preservation of flora, fauna and scenery and the setting aside of lands for Rakiura Māori under the South Island Landless Natives Act 1906.

There are a number of key political and legislative historical dates relevant to the south-eastern part of Stewart Island/Rakiura, in particular the 1864 Deed of Cession (the Crown purchase of Rakiura). This included provisions for reserves of land and education facilities for Rakiura Māori, but only a few small reserves of land were immediately granted, and only limited steps were taken to address the educational needs of the people.

Following many petitions from signatories to the Deed, enquiries under a Royal Commission and an enquiry by a joint committee of both houses of Parliament, a report recommended the fulfilment of the Deed with regard to reserves “to provide support and maintenance of landless and impoverished natives”.

The reservations were approved by Cabinet in 1893 and the first allocation, Lords River, was made in 1897. Port Adventure and Toi Toi River followed, with the matter being finalised in 1904. A total of 10,600 hectares was involved and about 4000 names were recorded at the time.

The South Island Landless Natives Act 1906 (SILNA) gave effect to this allocation, empowering the Government to proclaim the reserves and issue titles. The Lords River block was the only block to be fully surveyed. This has resulted in some unallocated land within the Eastern/Tai Rawhiti Place. Currently there is an outstanding Waitangi Tribunal claim regarding these unallocated lands. The owners did not have the substantial resources that would have been required to develop this land for the few uses to which it could be put. Most of the forest was unsuitable for timber milling and it was very expensive to clear the land for agriculture.

By the 1970s the bulk of the allocated Māori land was being managed by the Department of Lands and Survey as if it were scenic reserve. In the late 1970s, Rakiura Māori organised themselves to resume control and Rakiura Māori Land Incorporated was established in 1981.

The RMLT is an Ahu Whenua Trust established under the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993. It is responsible for the administration of the private land adjacent to the remnant Pegasus nature reserves and other lands within the Eastern/Tai Rāwhiti Place and elsewhere on Stewart Island/Rakiura. The Department of Conservation acknowledges the ongoing property rights that have been established under this Act.

The Deed of 9 October 1999 between the Crown and the RMLT, as well as the Tutae-ka-wetoweto Forest Act 2001, refer to the members of RMLT as tāngata whenua and beneficial owners with rights of ownership, possession and use of the SILNA sections. These documents state that the RMLT is the kaitiaki and registered proprietor of the SILNA sections.

2.4.5 Public benefit and enjoyment

Large parts of the Eastern/Tai Rāwhiti Place are nature reserve, representing land that was not included within Rakiura National Park, in order to facilitate any future Treaty Settlements in the area. Prior to the creation of Rakiura National Park, much of southern Stewart Island/Rakiura was part of the Pegasus Nature Reserve. Almost all other nature reserves within New Zealand are offshore islands, with the Pegasus Nature Reserve being a remnant. It is expected that the land status of this reserve will be changed in the future. However, until this time it will be administered consistent with the Reserves Act 1977. Any change in status of the nature reserve will need to be justified on ecological grounds, such as no longer holding values that require such a high status of protection.

Nature reserve is generally a land status that is reflective of the highly vulnerable species and ecosystems of the area. In order to protect these values access is by permit only. Few requests for permits are received by the Department of Conservation and there has not been a need to limit the number of permits authorising access into this nature reserve.

Tramping is very limited in this part of Stewart Island/Rakiura because there are no managed tracks. However, while past use of the land has been limited due to its remoteness and difficult access, recreational hunting is a popular activity on public conservation land within the Eastern/Tai Rawhiti Place and also on RMLT land.

There are six hunting blocks on public conservation land within this Place, four of which have six-bunk hunting huts. These are the Upper Lords River block and the North Tikotatahi block within the Pegasus Nature Reserve, the Kellys block on conservation stewardship land, the Bosom block on scenic reserve, and two hunting blocks in the Glory Cove Scenic Reserve. The Chewtobacco hunting block and hunter hut is administered by the RMLT.

The Bosom block in Port Adventure is the most popular of these blocks in terms of bed nights per year. Port Adventure itself is used extensively for many recreation activities, including fishing and diving. The Upper Lords River block is also popular. While it does not have an existing hunting hut it has a long-standing informal campsite for hunting that exists at the head of the Lords River within the boundaries of the remnant Pegasus Nature Reserve.

The Department of Conservation has a hunting permit system for access to the hunting blocks on public conservation land. The RMLT operates a similar permit system for the hunting blocks under its administration.

Through the consultation for this document, it has been requested that more opportunities for concessionaire activities are enabled in the Eastern/Tai Rāwhiti Place. Appropriate commercial ventures include eco-tourism, where the activity has a minimal impact on the natural values of the environment. Given that access is largely by sea and river, commercial ventures are likely to include a combination of land- and water-based activities.

Any unification of the status of public conservation land would simplify the patchwork of existing reserves so that all public conservation lands within the Eastern/Tai Rāwhiti Place would be managed for a consistent legal purpose. If the land status was unified to scenic reserve, for example, this would resolve the need for entry to require a permit (as is required for a nature reserve) and potentially enable management of this area to be better integrated with the adjacent National Park.

2.4.6 Outcome, objectives and policies

Outcome

The conservation values of the Eastern/Tai Rāwhiti Place are recognised and protected. The unique and remote natural landscapes, including rivers and wetlands of significant natural character, remain relatively unmodified. Conservation land is unified under an appropriate land status, and public access to these lands is further enabled consistent with the backcountry or remote recreational opportunity setting.

The positive relationship between the Department of Conservation and the Rakiura Māori Land Trust continues ensuring the integrated management of the Eastern/Tai Rāwhiti Place. Historical and cultural heritage, including archaeological sites, are protected and respected. The Department of Conservation works with iwi and the RMLT to identify and protect archaeological sites. Recreation and tourism opportunities that respect the natural environment, have minimal impact on significant natural values and potentially enhance these values, are enabled.

Management objectives

  1. To provide for the continued protection and restoration of native species, habitats, biodiversity and ecosystems within the Eastern/Tai Rāwhiti Place.
  2. To acknowledge the RMLT as a key long-term stakeholder on Stewart Island/Rakiura and to work closely with the RMLT in an ongoing relationship to manage the Eastern/Tai Rāwhiti Place.
  3. To provide for the protection and management of historical and cultural heritage, including archaeological sites, within the Eastern/Tai Rāwhiti Place.
  4. To seek that the land status of reserves within the Eastern/Tai Rāwhiti Place is appropriate to achieve the outcome for these lands as a Place, including enhanced access.
  5. To manage recreational and concessionaire activities on public conservation land within the Eastern/Tai Rāwhiti Place so that they are consistent with the land status and the outcome sought for Place and recreational opportunity, and have minimal impact on the natural environment and other visitors.

Management policies

  1. Will manage the Eastern/Tai Rāwhiti Place in order to protect and restore its native species, habitats and ecosystems.
  2. Will manage the rivers and wetland systems within the Eastern/Tai Rāwhiti Place to protect their significant natural character and unmodified state.
  3. Should work with tāngata whenua and the RMLT to protect the nationally significant Toi Toi Wetland.
  4. Should manage the RMLT buffer section of the Eastern/Tai Rāwhiti Place as a remote recreational opportunity.
  5. Should manage the East Coast reserves section of this Place as a backcountry recreational opportunity.
  6. Should manage The Neck wildlife viewing sites section of this Place as a frontcountry recreational opportunity.
  7. Should authorise concessionaire opportunities that are consistent with the outcome sought for the Eastern/Tai Rāwhiti Place, and are low impact activities that do not require the development or extension of infrastructure and foster an appreciation of the area’s conservation values.
  8. Should manage concessionaire opportunities within the Eastern/Tai Rāwhiti Place to a level that is consistent with the recreational zoning of the area (see policies 4, 5 and 6 above).
  9. Will manage wildlife viewing on public conservation lands within the Eastern/Tai Rāwhiti Place in accordance with section 1.5.6 - Wildlife viewing.
  10. Will continue to liaise, consult and support an ongoing relationship with the RMLT regarding the management of the Eastern/Tai Rāwhiti Place. Work collaboratively with cross-boundary issues such as introduced plant and animal control, protection of native flora and fauna, access and managing impacts on the land.
  11. May, where resources allow, undertake work to identify historical, archaeological and cultural sites in the Eastern/Tai Rāwhiti Place and to undertake protection, monitoring and management measures where appropriate.
  12. Should work with the RMLT to undertake protection, monitoring and management of historical, archaeological and cultural sites on lands administered by the trust.
  13. Should consider initiating a process to unify the status of public conservation land in the Eastern/Tai Rawhiti Place to a legal status appropriate for managing this area consistent with the outcome sought for this Place under scenic reserve status. Gazetting all public conservation land in this area as scenic reserve may be an option.
  14. May investigate the possibility of a hunter hut under the existing Rakiura Hunter Camps Trust concession within the Upper Lords River hunting block, to reduce the environmental impact of the existing informal and long-standing campsite in this area. This should be considered in accordance with section 1.6 - Accommodation and related facilities.
  15. Should share research and monitoring information with the RMLT to help achieve the integrated management of the Eastern/Tai Rāwhiti Place with Rakiura National Park and with RMLT land.
  16. Should work with the Southland Regional Council to ensure that proposals for aquaculture activities that arise adjacent to the Eastern/Tai Rāwhiti Place occur on a limited basis and that the adverse effects on the naturalness and natural character of the area, as well as adverse effects on indigenous biodiversity, public access and navigational safety, are avoided or mitigated. In addition, public conservation lands should not be utilised for any infrastructure associated with any aquaculture proposals.

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