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Lake Pearson/Moana Rua Earmarked As Refuge

Saturday 25 May 2002
Lake Pearson/Moana Rua Earmarked As Wildlife Refuge

Conservation Minister Sandra Lee has today made a significant step towards the protection of the southern crested grebe/kamana on Canterbury’s Lake Pearson/Moana Rua.

Ms Lee has given approval to the Department of Conservation to publicly notify the intent to gazette Lake Pearson/Moana Rua as a Wildlife Refuge.

“It is clear to me that the lake holds a special place in the hearts of Canterbury people," said Ms Lee.

"This has been reflected in the amount of interest in the progress towards establishing a Wildlife Refuge over it. The lake is a key breeding site for southern crested grebes (kamana) in Canterbury.

"With a New Zealand population of approximately 250, grebes are threatened and fully protected. Ngai Tahu regard kamana as a taonga. This species has suffered a severe reduction in range and abundance, probably caused by predation, competition and ongoing degradation and loss of suitable wetland habitat. The breeding potential of pairs on this lake must be safeguarded to improve the survival of the species in New Zealand,” said Ms Lee.

“Wildlife Refuge status is one of New Zealand’s highest forms of legal protection for terrestrial and aquatic wildlife habitats. The designation will recognise the value of Lake Pearson/Moana Rua as a significant habitat for the southern crested grebe and other native waterfowl.”

Ms Lee said the lake was one of the scenic highlights for those travelling along state highway 73 between Christchurch and Arthur’s Pass.

DOC has been working with interest groups such as Forest and Bird, Ngai Tahu, district councils and members of the public to gazette Lake Pearson as a wildlife refuge. This is a legal process through Section 7 of the Conservation Act 1987 and Section 14 of the Wildlife Act 1953.

“It has been a long process and I wish to thank those who have contributed at each step along the way, providing advice and support as progress as been made towards gazettal of the lake,” said Ms Lee.

The Ngai Tahu Claims Settlement Act 1998 recognises Ngai Tahu’s mana over Lake Pearson/Moana Rua through statutory acknowledgement, as it is an important food gathering area for generations of Ngai Tahu.

“Ngai Tahu have played an integral part of the decision-making processes over the future management of the lake in partnership with the Department of Conservation,” said Ms Lee.

"The lake has always been a popular spot for fishing, camping, swimming, picnicking and kayaking. Over the last few years, it has also become an increasingly popular area for power boating, jet skiing, water-skiing and windsurfing."

DOC Canterbury Community Relations Manager Cheryl Colley said it had been a long journey towards gazettal of Lake Pearson/Moana Rua as a Wildlife Refuge.

She said the first step was the setting up of the Lake Pearson Advisory Committee in 2000, to provide advice to the department and work through the range of issues surrounding the lake. Its membership reflected the diverse views of the various public interests in the lake, with representatives from DOC, recreation clubs, Ngai Tahu and environmental groups.

"In October 2000 a voluntary boating ban was put in place on the lake until more formal regulations could be enforced," Ms Colley said. "This was to protect the grebes during their breeding season from the noise and disturbance caused by this activity.

"By April 2001, the bed of the lake had become public conservation land, with a legal transfer from management by Land Information New Zealand, to management by the Department of Conservation.

"In November 2001 Environment Canterbury imposed a by-law on Lake Pearson restricting the speed limit to 5 knots over the whole lake. This effectively meant jet skis and powerboats were excluded from the lake."

The public notice announcing the intent to declare Wildlife Refuge status over Lake Pearson will appear in local newspapers on Saturday 25 May 2002. Members of the public have 40 working days to make their views known to the Conservator, Department of Conservation, Private Bag 4715, Christchurch.


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