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Save Heaphy & Hollyford petition launched on track

14 May 2001

Petition to Save Heaphy and Hollyford launched on track

Green Party co-convenor Richard Davies begins a three-day walk tomorrow along the Heaphy Track gathering signatures for a nationwide petition opposing the Collingwood-Karamea and Haast-Milford road proposals.

Mr Davies and Green Party MP Ian Ewen-Street will launch the petition on Tuesday morning at a gathering of supporters at Brown Hut at the Collingwood end of the Heaphy Track.

The petition calls on Government to reject requests for funding for these projects, including assistance for further feasibility studies. The roads will compromise the special conservation values of Kahurangi and Fiordland National Parks, and threatens the benefits to tourism that have been generated by the Heaphy and Hollyford Tracks.

"Our message is that the conservation and tourism values of the Kahurangi and Fiordland National Parks are not only worth preserving but that sustainable economic development will suffer if the roads are built," Mr Davies said.

"These high maintenance roads are environmentally destructive and economically unviable. Our petition aims to end this debate once and for all."

Mr Davies, who runs a homestay in Golden Bay, walks the Heaphy at least once a year. He will be accompanied on the walk by tourists from Japan and Germany: Hiro Kuwahara and Hans Arns.

"I enjoy walking the Heaphy very much, as do many of the people who stay at our homestay. Tourists and New Zealanders I've spoken too are dismayed that a road may go through here. They come here to enjoy the wilderness, and a road will undoubtedly spoil the experience for them."

Mr Davies intends to walk the Hollyford Track in spring.

Note to editors/reporters: The launch takes place at 11am, 15 May. To reach Brown Hut drive to Collingwood from Takaka, and turn south (signposted) toward Bainham and the Heaphy Track. Allow 3 hours drive from Nelson. A factsheet outlining issues about the roads accompanies this release. A feature article written by Richard is also available.

ENDS

Reasons not to build the Collingwood-Karamea & Haast-Milford roads

*Both roads will compromise the remarkably high natural and recreational values present in Fiordland and Kahurangi National Parks. Fiordland National Park is a World Heritage Area. Kahurangi is the most ecologically and geologically diverse region in the country and is itself an outstanding candidate for world heritage status.

*The coastal section of the Haast-Milford road would unavoidably disrupt presently undisturbed coastal habitat for tawaki (Fiordland crested penguin) and fur seals which use the coast for shelter and breeding.

* Introduced pests and weeds pose a significant threat to fragile ecosystems. Roads through wilderness regions merely act as highways for possums and other pests and weeds, putting a further burden on stretched resources to combat them.

*The Kahurangi road will divide the park in two, and will introduce new threats to endangered birds such as great spotted kiwi and western weka. It will also disrupt the unbroken sequence of ecosystems from alpine zones to the coast which are now rare anywhere in the world.

*The roads will destroy the integrity of theTasman and the Red Hills Wilderness Areas which are legally designated places of low or no human impact which were fought for by citizens groups over many years. Such areas are rare in the world.

*Adding approximately 170 km to the road network will not significantly enhance the range of forest and mountain driving experiences in New Zealand. There are already many fine forest and mountain drives through wild country in New Zealand that are accessible to most tourists.

*Anyone of moderate fitness can access these areas from a range of short walks or by walking the comparatively easy Hollyford and Heaphy Tracks.

*Road-end tourism does work. People stay longer in Golden Bay than on the West Coast - a through route. Golden Bay and Milford Sound have succeeded and are growing as tourist destinations - without the construction of through routes.

*Building the Karamea-Collingwood road would reduce Golden Bay to a toilet and lunch stop; would destroy the charm of Golden Bay; and compromise the efforts of tourism authorities to promote high value sustainable destination tourism in the area.

*A recent survey of Takaka businesses showed overwhelming opposition to the road.

*Businesses and communities in Murchison, Reefton and Makarora, which have developed their own tourism momentum, will undoubtedly lose out if tourists are directed away from them.

*Both roads are economically unviable. Both cover difficult, high rainfall regions, subject to winter snow. Taxpayers are not willing to pay for more high maintenance highways.

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