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Waikato ecological "island" awarded $5.5 million

Rt Hon Helen Clark
Prime Minister of New Zealand

1 June 2006
Embargoed until 2.00 pm, 1 June 2006 Media Statement

Waikato ecological "island" awarded $5.5 million grant

Prime Minister Helen Clark announced today a government grant of up to $5.5 million for a project to reintroduce endangered species such as the kiwi and tuatara to Maungatautari Mountain.

The Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust has been established to lead a community project to restore the mountain, near Cambridge, to as close as possible to its natural state. The "island" project has benefits for conservation, and for visitors wishing to experience New Zealand's unique biodiversity.

The grant is one of six to be awarded under the Significant Community Based Projects Fund, set up to support major community projects which have regional or national significance.

Helen Clark said the grant would help the Trust restore more than 3,000 hectares of lowland podocarp/hardwood forest into a fully functioning forest ecosystem.

The project involves constructing a 47km predator-proof fence around the base of the mountain and eradicating introduced pests and predators, before reintroducing endangered species such as kiwi, tuatara, kakariki, saddleback, and stitchbirds.

The fund was announced in Budget 2005 to address funding issues faced by a growing number of large and important community projects. The fund is administered by the Department of Internal Affairs, which together with five other government bodies formulated recommendations to Cabinet for final decision.

Cabinet guidelines stipulate that the objective of the fund is to support major community-based projects, which have significant support from, and participation by the community, with a range of regional or national benefits.

Particular importance is attached to projects in the fields of arts, culture and heritage; sport and recreation; conservation and environment; tourism; and economic development.

Helen Clark said grants in this financial year had already been awarded to the Invercargill Velodrome (up to $1 million), the Dunedin Chinese Gardens (up to $3.7 million), and an eco-tourism attraction in the West Coast's Oparara Valley (up to $1.8 million). There will be further funding rounds

ENDS

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