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Canterbury’s Lake Pearson/Moana Rua Refuge

Canterbury’s Lake Pearson/Moana Rua has been gazetted a wildlife refuge, to protect the southern crested grebe/kämana, announced the Department of Conservation today.

“Wildlife refuge status is one of New Zealand’s highest forms of legal protection for terrestrial and aquatic wildlife habitats. The designation recognises the value of Moana Rua as a significant habitat for the southern crested grebe and other native waterfowl,” said Mike Cuddihy, Conservator Canterbury.

"We are pleased to make known this achievement in time to celebrate World Wetlands Day on 2 February at Moana Rua,” he said.

“This year is also Unesco’s International Year of Freshwater 2003. It’s an opportunity to reflect on the importance of water resources in our lives and wellbeing, and to focus our attention on protecting and valuing our freshwater.”

Lake Pearson (Moana Rua) is one of the scenic highlights for travellers along state highway 73 between Christchurch and Arthur’s Pass.

The lake is a key breeding site for kämana in Canterbury. With a New Zealand population of approximately 250, grebes are threatened and fully protected. Ngäi Tahu regards kämana as a taonga (treasure).

A ‘Women in Conservation’ volunteer project run at the lake in November last year discovered eight grebe pairs on nests with eggs. The women set stoat traps around each nest to protect the grebes during this vulnerable time. CONT.

Project leader Leslie Jensen said that the traps had caught seven stoats since being set and she was watching the progress of the nests with great interest.

“Three of the pairs have successfully hatched a chick, and the traps will stay and be checked until the remaining chicks have fledged,” she said.

Conservator Mike Cuddihy congratulated the women on their efforts and said that community involvement was an essential ingredient in establishing the refuge. “Lake Pearson (Moana Rua) holds a special place in the hearts of Canterbury people, and it is their contribution that has made the wildlife refuge possible.”

The Department of Conservation (DOC) worked closely with interest groups such as Forest and Bird, Ngäi Tahu, district councils and members of the public to gazette Lake Pearson as a wildlife refuge. “I wish to thank those who have contributed at each step along the way, providing advice and support as progress was made,” said Mr Cuddihy.

The Ngäi Tahu Claims Settlement Act 1998 recognises Ngäi Tahu’s mana over Moana Rua through statutory acknowledgement, as it is an important mahinga kai (food gathering) area for generations of Ngäi Tahu.

“Ngäi Tahu have played an integral part of the decision-making processes over the future management of Moana Rua, in partnership with the Department of Conservation,” said Mr Cuddihy.

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