At the request of the New Zealand Conservation Authority, the Director-General of Conservation is investigating the establishment of a national park based on the Waipoua Forest in Northland. Land included in the investigation includes the Waipoua Forest (part of Northland Conservation Park), the Waipoua Sanctuary Area, the Gorrie, Katui, Marlborough Road and Trounson Kauri Park Scenic Reserves and the Maitahi Wetland Scientific Reserve.
A public discussion document is being released today, marking the start of a two-month public consultation on the proposal.
In releasing the discussion document, Director-General of Conservation, Al Morrison, said, “A national park at Waipoua has been talked about for more than a century, and I warmly invite anyone with an interest in this forest to participate in this public consultation.”
Public consultation is an integral part of the investigation process required by section 8 of the National Parks Act 1980. The purpose of an investigation is to help the New Zealand Conservation Authority assess whether the proposed area possesses outstanding scenic, ecological and landscape qualities. It also looks at the pros and cons of the proposal, including the social, economic and other impacts of making the area a national park.
The discussion document introduces the areas under investigation, the criteria for assessment of their values, and the likely impacts on the communities surrounding them. Waipoua is the largest remaining area of old-growth kauri forest, and has exceptional diversity of vegetation and species including numerous threatened species. It also includes ecological sequences from the coast to the heights of the Mataraua Plateau. Waipoua and the Trounson Kauri Park are well known for their groves of giant kauri including the iconic Tane Mahuta. The Maitahi Wetland is a rare example of gumland shrubland and swamp.
Waipoua Forest is the ancestral home of Te Roroa. Te Roroa Manawhenua Trust Board spokesperson Moengaroa Murray, noted that the previous investigation for a national park centred on the kauri forests of Northland foundered because the time was not right, with Treaty settlements incomplete. In 2008, Te Roroa settled its historical Treaty of Waitangi claims with the Crown, which has provided a platform for the current investigation. Part of the discussion document outlines Te Roroa’s history, views and aspirations for the park. All of the land in this national park investigation is within the rohe (area) of Te Roroa.
Public feedback on the proposal will inform the report to the New Zealand Conservation Authority, which then recommends to the Minister of Conservation whether or not a national park should be established.
A series of workshops and hui to inform people about the proposal and encourage feedback will be held around Northland over the next two months 2011. Submissions close on 18 July 2011.
It is fitting that the investigation is being carried out during the United Nations 2011 Year of the Forest, which recognises the importance of forests to the communities, which live in and around them.