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Tuatara tourism and tangata whenua

Tuatara tourism and tangata whenua

Wildlife ecologist Associate Professor Doug Armstrong has backed a proposal by a Mäori tourism company to fly people to Stephens Island to see and touch tuatara.

Dr Armstrong says it is a good opportunity for tangata whenua to gain value from land in reservation, says an island-conservation specialist.

Associate Professor, a wildlife ecologist at the University, says he doesn’t see anything wrong with the proposal, given that the Department of Conservation is involved and the appropriate rules put in place.

“It is good to see the value of our native species being recognised, as this should increase our ability to invest in their conservation,” Dr Armstrong says.

A public hearing was held in Nelson yesterday to provide a forum for debate over how close people should be allowed to get to native wildlife. A decision will be made by a Government appointee in the next two months.

Stephens Islands is northwest of Cook Strait, and home to 50,000 tuatara - 90 per cent of New Zealand’s total population. Potential risks to the population, as debated by DOC, Forest and Bird Society and university academics, include the increased risk of fire, the introduction of pests and disease.

ENDS

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