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Celebrate Te Matuku Marine Reserve

4 August 2005 - Auckland

Hauraki Gulf Forest and Bird to celebrate Te Matuku Marine Reserve

Forest and Bird's Hauraki Gulf Islands Branch is gearing up to celebrate today's official commencement of the Te Matuku Marine Reserve.

"It has been a long process, and it is so satisfying to finally see it come into effect" said Leith Duncan, one of a number of enthusiastic promoters of the reserve.

"The significance of this reserve is that it started as one option of three put forward by Forest and Bird for Waiheke Island, with very widespread consultation. The Te Matuku Bay proposal was unique in that it gained 93% support from the community and also most of the user-groups" said Mr Duncan.

"Of the five south-facing estuaries on Waiheke, Te Matuku Bay is surrounded by the most intact native forest, with the highest biodiversity particularly with wading birds and the benthos (the creepy crawlies in the mud)," he said

It also contains regionally significant mangrove forest. Because of this, the Marine Reserve will act as a 'control site' by which we can measure the impact of human activities by comparing it with the other estuaries", said Mr Duncan.

"New Zealanders treasure the marine environment, so it is great to see this Bay given the special recognition and protection that it deserves" he said.

A recent poll taken in March showed that 95 percent of New Zealanders support more marine reserves.

The Te Matuku Marine Reserve grew out of the District Scheme Review process in 1989 and was initiated through a Forest and Bird proposal. The Hauraki Gulf Branch and supporters have been its main champions.

"It is fitting that Te Matuku Marine Reserve has been established during Conservation Week", said David Pattemore, Northern Conservation Officer for Forest and Bird. "This year's theme of 'Everything is Connected' reminds us that we need to protect the marine environment as well as our native forests. What we do on land and in the sea can have a long lasting effect on these special ecosystems".

"A network of marine reserves throughout New Zealand, representing the diversity of species and geography, would protect the nursery areas and biodiversity of marine species" said Leith Duncan.

"New Zealanders love the ocean and this new marine reserve will be a real asset for Waiheke", Mr. Pattemore said. "People are increasingly aware that marine habitats and species are just as important as those on the land and deserve the same attention and protection as our national parks".

ENDS

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