Read the NZCA's advice to the Minister on the Federated Mountain Clubs proposal for a Remarkables National Park

To:  Hon Maggie Barry, Minister of Conservation
Date:  19 July 2017

Preliminary view on FMC Remarkables NP Proposal

You requested the NZCA provide some preliminary thoughts on the Federated Mountain Clubs (FMC) proposal for a Remarkables National Park. I have sought members’ views, particularly those from the lower South Island most familiar with the area, and from the Ngai Tahu’s representative, Sandra Cook (who resides in Southland).

The FMC has professionally presented the possibility of establishing a National Park from a number of land blocks (some not yet in the conservation estate) and argue that, if this aggregation of landscapes, ecosystems and, flora and fauna were to occur, it would provide some of the most beautiful vistas, special biodiversity and recreational opportunities in New Zealand (i.e. based on ‘face value’ and current documents it would indeed meet many of the National Parks Act Section 8 criteria). Indeed, the notion of a national park in this area was mooted in 1984 and some years ago the Board of Glenaray Station approached the Nature Heritage Fund promoting the concept of National Park for much of its 50,990 hectare pastoral lease.

While we concur with much of the FMC’s analysis, a number of factors suggest that intermediate steps should first be put in place. In particular, we note:

  • The Otago Conservation Board proposal to establish a Conservation Park on this land needs to be investigated alongside this proposal.
  • Large areas of the proposal are currently high-country pastoral leasehold land which is going through the tenure review process. Once that has been completed the land classification needs to be re-examined (refer Policy 2.5.2 of the Otago Conservation Management Strategy).
  • Extensive consultation with Ngai Tahu, who are opposed to further land in their rohe being given national park status, needs to be undertaken – both at the local level and with Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu.
  • Department priorities elsewhere in the country, which rightfully demand first call on already highly utilised planning and other resources, that would be required to undertake a formal national park proposal evaluation as specified in the General Policy for National Parks, need to be addressed.
  • The NZCA’s intention to review the General Policy for National Parks in light of significant changes in the external operating context, since its last substantive review in 2005. These changes include, the settlement of many Treaty claims, a boom in tourism numbers and increased participation of New Zealanders in conservation related activities, including recreation and pest and weed control.

Given these circumstances, the Authority’s preliminary advice is that:

  • The proposed review of the General Policy for National Parks be completed before any further new national parks are established – we anticipate this will include a careful consideration of Section 4 responsibilities in the post-Treaty Settlement era. While we have yet to confirm the project terms with the ‘new’ Authority, we would hope this work can be completed in 12-18 months.
  • Department consultation continues with Ngai Tahu (and other iwi) regarding further land being added to National Parks.
  • Further consideration be given by the Department to the merits of Conservation Park status being sought for land already under Crown ownership in the Remarkables ‘precinct’, as proposed by the Otago Conservation Board.
  • The FMC be commended for their strategic analysis and proposal; and advised that subject to the intermediate steps progressing soundly, further consideration may be given to establish a national park centred on the Remarkables Range.

I would be pleased to discuss any of the above matters with you.

Yours sincerely

Dr Warren Parker
Chairman, NZCA

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