Minister Disappointed At Mt Hikurangi Challenge
Conservation Minister Nick Smith is disappointed that Public Access New Zealand is to legally challenge the return of Mt Hikurangi to Ngati Porou and the new access agreement that has been negotiated for the mountain.
"The agreement reached in 1990 on the future of Mt Hikurangi makes good sense for all New Zealanders and actually gives greater security of public access than existed prior to the agreement. Sadly there are some people who refuse to acknowledge the role of Maori in conservation and think we can go on locking them out of an involvement with their ancestral lands."
"The Government walks a fine line between some Maori radicals who wish to deny the rights of other New Zealanders, and a few radicals like Mr Barr who wish to exclude Maori. The Mt Hikurangi arrangement has been criticised by both extremes - a good indication that it is a fair deal."
Prior to the agreement people could only climb Mt Hikurangi with the consent of the previous pakeha owner. All New Zealanders now have guaranteed access under the Walkways Act to the mountain whereas previously it was at the farmer's discretion. The Walkways Act covenant is exactly the same as hundreds of others around New Zealand. It does allow the owner to close the walkway on agreed days where it would interfere with farming operations.
Mr Smith said the Government would be vigorously defending the legal action.