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Covenant agreed for substantial Waikato forest

Covenant agreed for substantial Waikato forest

A 1600 hectare block of Maori-owned forest in the Waikato is to be protected as a conservation reserve under a new kawenata (convenant) signed with the owners, Conservation Minister Chris Carter announced today.

The land, known as Taumatatotara A5 Trust Block, is part of Taumatatotara Forest, which spreads from Pirongia Forest Park in the north to Tawarau and Wharerino Forests in the south.

"This forest is culturally and spiritually significant to Maori in the area," Mr Carter said.

"It contains many ancient trees - rimu, tawa, rata, rewarewa - and a number of interesting geological features, such as limestone formations, and possibly unrecorded caves.

"The Taumatatotara A5 block is one of the largest tracts of privately owned native forest in the Waikato. Another block in the area known as Hauturu West was protected as a reserve recently and that appears to have been the catalyst for other Maori owners to consider setting their trust lands aside as reserves for future generations," Mr Carter said.

The Taumatatotara block has been protected under the Nga Whenua Rahui scheme. A kawenata or covenant has been placed over it protecting the indigenous forest while ensuring Maori retain ownership, management and control of the land.

Conservation pests within the area include possums, goats, pigs, and red deer. Cattle and sheep occasionally stray on to the property and extensive fencing is to be erected to keep them out.

Tamatatotara A5 chairman Pare Joseph said that the forest was being damaged by pests and the new kawenata would improve the situation.

A management plan for the property would scope initiatives such as control of, weeds and pests, and the possible development of walking tracks.

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