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More Pacific Sites Wanted for World Heritage list

Media Release
5 February 2004

More New Zealand and Pacific Sites Wanted for World Heritage list

The Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, Koïchiro Matsuura has concluded a week long visit to Samoa, Tonga and New Zealand urging Pacific countries to more nominate sites for inclusion on the World Heritage List.

754 sites of ‘outstanding and universal significance’ are on the World Heritage List. Only three sites from New Zealand and one from the Pacific are included. They are Tongariro National Park, Te Wahipounamu, and the sub-Antarctic islands and East Rennell, the eastern part of Rennell Island in the Solomon Islands, which is an important site for the science of island biogeography.

A visit to Tongariro National Park was a highlight of the Director-General’s visit to New Zealand. At Waihi Marae on the shores of Lake Taupo, he was hosted by the Paramount Chief of Ngati Tuwharetoa Tumu te Heuheu whose ancestors gifted Tongariro to New Zealand. Mr Te Heu Heu also leads the New Zealand delegation to the World Heritage Committee to which New Zealand was elected a member last September. Mr Matsuura said the World Heritage Convention now enjoys near universal membership with 177 countries party to the Convention.

“I would like to see increased representation of Pacific cultrual and natural heritage on the World Heritage List in the years to come. We hope that the World heritage List will be futher enriched by the traditions and spirituality of the peoples of this region. Furthermore we would like to see more models of co-operative management that are grounded in spirituality, tradition and custom.”

Mr Matsuura said Tongariro, which was the first site in the world to be recognised for both its natural and cultural significance, would continue to be used as a leading example to the region and the world.

In Wellington, UNESCO’s Director-General met the Governor-General, the Prime Minister and various Ministers and officials for talks on subjects under UNESCO’s mandate: edcuation, science, culture and communications.


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