Te Tapatoru a Toi (Joint Management Committee) have recently farewelled and thanked former committee members Dave Field, Anthony Olsen and Don Herdman for their valued contribution and hard work throughout their term on the committee. These three men have worked diligently to develop the foundations of the committee alongside remaining members Rapata Kopae, John Hohapata-Oke and Te Runanga O Ngati Awa Chairman Te Kei Merito.
Te Tapatoru a Toi was the first joint committee of its kind in New Zealand with representatives from Ngati Awa, Minister of Conservation and East Coast Bay of Plenty Conservation Board. The committee is an integral part of the cultural redress package agreed between the people of Ngati Awa and the Crown for settlement of historical Treaty of Waitangi claims in 2005. Te Tapatoru a Toi jointly manages three reserves; Ohope Scenic Reserve, Tauwhare Pa Scenic Reserve and Moutohora (Whale Island) Wildlife Management Reserve.
The first five years of the committee has seen the development of Te Tapui Tokotoru Conservation Management Plan for the three reserves that it jointly manages. The Management Plan outlines the priorities for the management of the reserves and formalises the approval role they have for some activities, such as commercial, tourism and research permits.
Although the committee has farewelled Dave, Anthony and Don, existing committee members have also welcomed the three new ministerial appointments, Ron Russell, Maggie Bayfield and Hera Smith. These three join the Ngati Awa members for the next 5 year term of the committee. The new members bring a broad range of skills including technical, practical and community based experience.
The Ngati Awa Claims Settlement Act 2005 (NACSA) received assent on 24 March 2005. One of the treaty settlement cultural redress obligations is for a Joint Management Committee (JMC) which has a total of six members who include representatives nominated by the Department, independent nominations from the Ngati Awa governance entity, and a nomination from the East Coast Bay of Plenty Conservation Board. The JMC have strategic management, leadership and advisory functions in a range of interactions in relation to specified reserves areas recognised in the settlement legislation. The JMC have some express delegated powers under the Reserves Act 1977 (RA77). The first five year term of the committee ended on 31 October 2010.
The JMC provides a vehicle for the Department with Ngati Awa and community representation to enhance co-operative conservation input and planning for these reserves. Another practical benefit of the JMC is that it complements and fine tunes the extent of the Department’s general treaty obligations (i.e. Section 4 of the Conservation Act 1987).
The vision of Te Tapatoru a Toi is that the communities and agencies represented by the committee cherish taonga entrusted to them and are working together for the preservation and protection of the natural and cultural values that make them significant.
This JMC was the first of its kind to date to be formalised through a treaty settlement cultural redress obligation. It is an exciting opportunity for the future conservation management of reserves with significant ecological and cultural values. The JMC is providing a role model, experiences and lessons for future treaty claims redress options or other purposes where formal mechanisms of joint management of conservation land might be appropriate.