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Groups join forces to buy Kaikoura Island

Groups join forces to buy Kaikoura Island

The Environmental Defence Society (EDS) and the Native Forests Restoration Trust (the Trust) have joined forces in a fresh attempt to get Kaikoura Island into public ownership. Kaikoura Island is located in Port Fitzroy, Great Barrier Island, and is for sale.

EDS successfully led the campaign last year to acquire Waikawau Bay on the Coromandel Peninsula, while the Trust has bought many thousands of hectares of private land around the country and turned it into reserves.

Announcing the joint venture, EDS Chairman Gary Taylor said that he believed the Kaikoura purchase was "do-able with a little more co-operation in the region and some greater commitment from government."

"Unfortunately the initiative was wrong-footed at the beginning by presenting it as an alternative to the proposed memorial for Sir Peter Blake at Queens Wharf," said Mr Taylor. "That tended to polarise opinion within the region."

"We want to de-couple it from that proposal and present it as a wholly worthwhile initiative in its own right.

"We can see purchase being viable if the costs are spread. This will require leadership and commitment from Mayors and councils, all of whom should chip in a contribution. I include the Auckland Regional Council (ARC) in that and call on the ARC to reconsider its earlier stated position.

"So far as central government is concerned, it is clear that existing, orthodox sources of funding will not do the job. The government has to work outside the square, as it did with the Waikawau Bay deal, and look to the consolidated fund to bridge the funding gap after all the other parties have contributed.

"Looking at a reasonable balance of who could contribute what, it is possible to come up with a reasonable sum that should be sufficient to complete the deal.

"We're going to work actively with the Trust to secure a combined regional contribution, to support an ASB Trust contribution and then to lobby government and the councils for the balance. We've done these multi-party purchases before and success really comes down to the timing of the respective commitments.

Meantime the Native Forests Restoration Trust's Geoff Davidson has just returned from a thorough field inspection of Kaikoura Island.

"I was enormously impressed by the quality of the regenerating forest cover on the island," said Mr Davidson. "With some careful management of pests and weeds, it will quickly recover to provide outstanding ecological values.

"The buildings on the island could be restored to provide for a range of possible future uses including school trip and other educational accommodation.

"It is a large island at 564 hectares and its addition to the public estate would complement the existing island reserves in the region.

"I'm very positive about the prospects of success with this project in 2004 and really appreciate the support from the Environmental Defence Society," Mr Davidson concluded.

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