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NZCA recommends Rakiura National Park for Stewart Island

The New Zealand Conservation Authority has decided to recommend that the Minister of Conservation create New Zealand’s 14th national park over the public conservation lands of Stewart Island/Rakiura.

NZCA chairperson Sir Duncan McMullin said the NZCA recommended the national park should be known as Rakiura National Park.

“Rakiura National Park could well be the first national park created in the new millennium. Stewart Island is clearly deserving of being home to a national park. It is a stunning landscape and home to many of our country’s most precious native species, and is valued nationally by many different people for its natural, cultural and spiritual values.

Sir Duncan said the outstanding issues brought forward by the tangata whenua, local community and other interested groups, such as the Deerstalkers Association, had been dealt with at their meeting, including revising the boundary between the township of Oban at Half Moon Bay and the national park. Some of these issues would be worked through with the public in the development of a park management plan.

“I’m sure the local community will be pleased with the recommendations we’ve made. The boundary issues have been settled, and we will be seeking financial support from the Government to support the possible impact of increased visitors on the Island’s infrastructure.”

“The park will cover the bulk of the public conservation lands on the island, in the order of some 150,000 hectares. This makes it our fourth biggest national park, and is New Zealand’s first ‘island’ national park.”

The NZCA would also refer to the Minister of Conservation the request by Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu’s for a cultural impact assessment on the park. It would also forward socio-economic reports on the impacts of creating a national park to the Minister for her consideration.

“This recommendation is the culmination of a year of investigation and consideration including consultation with the community. It is a major milestone in the process of establishing a national park. The next step is for the Minister to take the proposal to her Government colleagues and seek formal endorsement. It would then be gazetted as a national park. Once gazetted, the Department of Conservation would develop a Rakiura National Park Management Plan with public input.”

The NZCA has the statutory authority to investigate proposals and make recommendations to the government on new national parks. It is an independent body that represents the public’s long-term interest in conservation at a national level.

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