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Lake Taupo Exploration Is Vital

The Tuwharetoa Trust Board's denial of permission for submarine exploration of Lake Taupo is an affront to science and the New Zealand public, ACT New Zealand Deputy Leader and Science and Technology spokesman Ken Shirley said today.

"The claimed spiritual and cultural issues simply don't make sense. The reality is that the public at large have every reason to feel outraged by this. This outcome makes a mockery of the assurances given by former Prime Minister Jim Bolger and the Tuwharetoa Trust Board when in August 1992 the Government transferred ownership of the lake bed to Tuwharetoa. At that time all parties assured New Zealanders that full public access to the lake would remain.

"An earlier survey using the same German min-sub was successfully completed in 1998, with a 60 Minutes documentary, titled "Fire in the Lake" screening on Labour Weekend of the same year. Why was this preliminary survey deemed acceptable, but the follow-up has encountered so much difficulty and obstruction?

"We have recently been told that the Lake Taupo eruption was the world's biggest in the last 75,000 years erupting an estimated 1200 cubic kilometres of ash. What could be more in the public interest than a geological survey by volcanologists to better understand the "timebomb" of Lake Taupo.

"I believe this unfortunate saga has left a lot of questions and over coming days I intend to use my Parliamentary position to get some answers.

"For example we need to know how much the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Science spent on this aborted programme.

"In addition we also need to know what demands the iwi made of the institute and what expectation it had of payment for giving access to the lake.

"Once I've had some answers to these questions I will be calling on the Government to intervene and clarify the public access issues," concluded Ken Shirley.

Ends


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