17 December 2010
New Chums Beach to be protected under new framework
New Chums - a Coromandel beach regarded as one of the best in the world - could be protected forever under a framework being proposed by its landowners and the Environmental Defence Society to create a significant public reserve on the land adjoining the beach.
The framework would see the New Zealand Coastal Trust - a new trust established by the Environmental Defence Society for the purpose of protecting special areas of coastline - facilitating purchase of the land, which includes a regenerating kauri forest, with a considerable gift from the landowners.
Te Punga Punga Station landowner John Darby said the landowners have always recognised the important natural values of New Chums beach and had always planned to protect the beach in perpetuity.
"We have been in discussions with the Environmental Defence Society for some time on how we can protect special areas of the coastline through the establishment of the NZ Coastal Trust. Such a trust will allow private landowners to work with the Environmental Defence Society to partner with government and local government, and communities, to protect iconic, unspoilt areas of coast for the public good."
Mr Darby and Environmental Defence Society Chairman Gary Taylor have written to the government to formally invite to the Crown to be involved in protecting New Chums Beach (Wainuiototo) catchment for the purpose of creating a public reserve. Mr Taylor met with the Prime Minister last month to discuss the proposal and officials have been asked to report in the new year.
Mr Taylor said that New Chums is a special area of the New Zealand coast.
"It is a beach of exceptional beauty and conservation values. There has been considerable public debate over how the beach and land behind it can be preserved to maintain its natural, unspoilt feel. Clearly, if established as a public reserve, the area will be protected in perpetuity.
"The landowners are prepared to make a considerable private gift to help to establish this reserve. Given the public benefits which would accrue from the establishment of a reserve, we believe government should also make a significant and matching contribution.
"EDS has established the NZ Coastal Trust - an independent, charitable conservation trust, chaired by retired High Court Judge Hon Peter Salmon QC - which will be used to facilitate the arrangement. It could be the initial purchaser of the land, with contributions from both the landowners and the Government. It could then vest it in the Crown or local or regional government.
"Whichever approach is adopted, we believe this model carries the potential to create a new approach to protecting special areas through public-private conservation partnerships."
Mr Darby and Mr Taylor said they are in discussions with public agencies to gather support and funding commitments for the proposal.
"New Chums is a pristine beach. If it can be protected, it would be an exceptional asset for all New Zealanders, said Mr Taylor.
"Protecting New Chums will take a partnership - between public agencies, the community, landowners, and conservationists - to secure and protect this asset as a public reserve. Such a framework is appropriate and highly desirable," Mr Darby said.