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Tuhua (Mayor) Island Protected As Maori Reserve


Tuhua (Mayor) Island Protected As Maori Reserve

Conservation Minister Chris Carter today announced the formal protection of Tuhua (Mayor) Island as a Maori conservation area, the first island to receive such a status. Located 35km from Tauranga Harbour, Tuhua is a volcanic island rich in Maori history and home to pohutukawa and native birds such as tui and kereru.

The island already has wildlife reserve status and the seas around the northern end of it are also protected as a marine reserve.

Mr Carter said the new status as a Maori reserve formally protected the indigenous vegetation under a covenant with the Maori owners, the Tuhua Trust, and recognised the special cultural values of the island.

"This is the first offshore island that has been formally protected under a Nga Whenua Rahui kawenata (covenant)," he said.

"I am delighted that future generations of Maori and Pakeha will be able to come here and see shining cuckoo, kingfishers and miromiro in their natural habitat."

Nga Whenua Rahui is a scheme established to protect Maori owned land that is valuable not just as a conservation area, but as a place of historical or spiritual significance to Maori.

The kawenata negotiated under the scheme place emphasis on Maori retaining ownership, management and control of their land, while agreeing to protect it as a reserve.

Tuhua island was occupied by Maori early in their history due to its rich deposits of the black glassy stone obsidian. It was the site of several fortress pa.

Nga Whenua Rahui chairman Tumu Te Heu Heu said that Tuhua Island was of "great cultural and spiritual significance to Maori".

"The formal protection of the native vegetation is an important step to ensuring this taonga is retained, " he said.

Tuhua Trust chairperson Magna Williams said the Trust's priority was to start work cleaning up derelict buildings on the island and to find a full-time caretaker of it.

A consideration payment of $160,000 has been paid to the trust in return for formally protecting its land.

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