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PM opens National Park on Stewart Island

9 March 2002 Media Statement

Prime Minister opens National Park on Stewart Island

Prime Minister Helen Clark today said the creation of Rakiura National Park will protect Stewart Island’s untouched natural and scenic beauty for future generations.

Helen Clark officially opened the Rakiura National Park, New Zealand’s fourteenth national park, today.

“Stewart Island is one of the largest islands in the world where natural features are relatively unchanged by human contact,” Helen Clark said.

“The creation of a national park will bring the island under a single conservation management system, preserving its unique beauty in perpetuity. The park covers 157,000 hectares and eighty-five per cent of the island, excluding a buffer zone around the township of Halfmoon Bay, private and Maori-owned lands, and public roads.”

Helen Clark marked Rakiura National Park’s opening by unveiling a giant chain link sculpture by Russell Beck. The chain symbolises Stewart Island’s legendary link to the South Island as the anchor to Maui’s canoe.

Today’s opening coincides with the announcement of the Rakiura Education Trust.

The trust has been developed to help Stewart Islanders reach their full academic potential. The government is supporting the initiative with a $10,000 establishment grant.

Conservation Minister Sandra Lee said the Rakiura National Park will protect the island’s unique native plants and wildlife.

“Possums, deer, feral cats, and rats have all taken their toll on the island's ecosystems but active conservation management will enhance its conservation values.

Ms Lee said an impact study underway will make recommendations on the government’s contribution to the infrastructure costs associated with the new park.

ENDS

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