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Lee Determined To Resolve Te Urewera Issues


Conservation Minister Determined To Resolve Outstanding Te Urewera National Park Issues


The Minister of Conservation, Hon Sandra Lee, said today she was determined to resolve the range of long outstanding issues related to the Te Urewera National Park that had been complicating the relationship between stakeholders.

"Since becoming the Minister of Conservation, I have had to deal with a number of difficulties within the Park including:
 Long standing roading arguments;
 Illegal logging inside the DOC boundary;
 Unsafe structures on the road to Maungapohatu;
 Complaints about signage;
 Complaints about sewage;
 The relationship between the Department and the tangata whenua;
to name but a few."

"Problems in the National Park, and its lake Waikaremoana in particular, are not new and most certainly predate my time as Minister.

"The former Ministers of Conservation and Maori Affairs, Hon Nick Smith and Hon Tau Henare, conducted a joint ministerial inquiry in an attempt to address many of the difficulties."

Ms Lee said the National Party's joint ministerial inquiry focussed on appropriate measures to build closer relations with the local community at Lake Waikaremoana. (See attached recommendations from pages 19-20 of the Joint Ministerial Inquiry report, 27 August 1998).

"The possibility of setting aside an appropriate site or sites for tangata whenua use is one additional option that might be considered by the Department of Conservation in that overall process," she said.

"For National to describe Nohoanga sites as apartheid is laughable," Ms Lee said. "They introduced the proposition in the Ngai Tahu settlement, and it was their inquiry in 1998 that recommended just such a marae site at the Lake."

"I make no apology, as the Minister with a vicarious responsibility for ensuring that there is no repetition of the Cave Creek disaster, for focussing on the health and safety of structures and roads within the National Park."

"I have had discussions regarding Tame Iti's concerns about signage, the Chairman of the Trust Board's concerns about the state of the roads, another claimant group's concerns about illegal logging, and a range of complaints about sewage and a myriad of other matters."

"I have since been advised that the Department of Conservation has an engineering report that confirmed that not only are the bridges unsafe but that the road is unsafe as well," she said.

"I am aware that the local Conservation Board has not wanted to make a full contribution to the $260,000 cost of upgrading the road, and my own preference is for the work to fall under the Department's national asset management plan.

"I am sure the Director-General of Conservation will have regard to the views of the conservation board," the Minister said.

She said the prophet Rua Kenana attempted to retain a land base at Maungapohatu, and set up a settlement there, but his community was broken up by armed police in 1916 and he was placed under arrest.

"This incident has been described as the last battle of New Zealand's land wars," she said.

"In the meantime, I am pleased that the rededication of the Aniwaniwa Visitor Centre, which has been refurbished along with the remounting of a Colin McCahon painting, has been scheduled for 22 September."

Ms Lee said she had engaged in discussions with a wide range of interested parties and was confident that the rededication of the Centre would be welcomed by all.

"I am hopeful that the entire community will join in the occasion, from the Chairman of the Tuhoe Trust Board to the younger Maori who had voiced concern about crown responsibilities," Ms Lee said.


EXTRACT FROM JOINT MINISTERIAL INQUIRY REPORT ON LAKE WAIKAREMOANA (pages 19-20)

5.3 The Electricity Corporation take steps to avoid, mitigate or remedy erosion that is occurring particularly at Mokau Landing and Home Bay.

5.3 The Department is considering prosecuting the trespasser for the felling of rimu within the Te Urewera National Park.

5.3 The Department and tangata whenua engage in dialogue to determine an appropriate level of harvest for indigenous plants for food and cultural purposes.

5.3 The Department should better mark the boundaries of the National Park where there are issues of park visitors trespassing onto private land.

5.3 The Department encourage trespassers to remain on public land.

5.3 The Department ensure that water quality at the Home Bay camp be tested regularly by the Wairoa District Council and results be made available to tangata whenua.

5.3 The Department ensure that the sewage system is working efficiently and commit to technological upgrade to the sewage system when justified.

5.3 The Department facilitate to the extent possible without compromising its role, and the Minister's role, as ultimate decision maker, the establishment of a marae for local communities at Lake Waikaremoana, if the desire of those communities to establish a presence at the Lake is pursued.

5.3 In consultation with tangata whenua the Department should initiate applications to the New Zealand Geographic Board to correct "incorrect" place names where they occur within the National Park and on land administered by the Department.

5.3 The Department continue to give due consideration to local residents when employment opportunities arise.

5.3 The Department, tangata whenua and the Trust Boards agree to meet and negotiate a formal management agreement for Lake Waikaremoana, that gives tangata when a more inclusive and transparent role in issues relating to the management of the leased area at Lake Waikaremoana than at present.

SUMMARY OF FINDINGS

5.3 We have identified at pages 19 and 20 how the issues that might arise from the terms of reference might be addressed.

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