Date: 18 March 2013
Due to the extreme fire risk, the Department of Conservation (DOC) have consulted Te Tapatoru a Toi (Joint Management Committee) and closed Moutohora (Whale Island) to all visitors through commercial access operators White Island Tours and Diveworks as well as all DOC staff.
"The extreme fire risk and closure will be monitored on a regular basis. By removing people from the island we remove the majority of the risk. We thank all involved for their cooperation” says Deputy Principal Rural Fire Officer, Malcolm Smith.
Last week Nga Tapuwae o Toi walkway tracks through Ohope Scenic Reserve were also closed to public access due to extreme fire risk.
- Moutohora (Whale Island) lies 6 km northwest of Whakatane in an area of frequent volcanic activity. The 143-ha island is a remnant volcanic cone, which has been eroded leaving two peaks, Motu Harapaki (353 m) and Raetihi (189 m) which fall away to cliffs on the north and north east.
- The island is currently managed for ecological restoration of its ecosystem. This includes protection of habitats for indigenous plants and animals and conservation of historic and cultural resources.
- Ngati Awa holds manawhenua to the island and are Tangata Whenua following the Ngati Awa Settlement Act 2005, the Department of Conservation and Ngati Awa jointly manage Moutohora through Te Tapatoru a Toi, (Joint Management Committee) a committee consisting of members nominated from Ngati Awa, the Bay of Plenty Conservation Board and Minister of Conservation.
Deputy Principal Rural Fire Officer
Phone: +64 6 8690460 or +64 27 4998 527