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Unique legislation to protect "spectacular" forest

9 October 2000 Media Statement

Unique legislation to protect "spectacular" forest

Associate Conservation Minister Phillida Bunkle says the Government has introduced unique new legislation to underpin a major settlement with the Rakiura Maori Land Trust to protect 3515 hectares of indigenous forest at Lords River on Stewart Island.

The Tutae-Ka-Wetoweto Forest Bill is expected to complete its introductory stages next week.

Ms Bunkle said the previous administration signed a deed of settlement and paid the Rakiura Maori Land Trust $10.9m in consideration of the owners putting in place a covenant to protect the block.

"Legislating the Lords River settlement effectively safeguards a spectacular area of indigenous forest with extraordinarily high conservation values, which had been under threat from logging. This final step protects the block in perpetuity," Ms Bunkle said.

"It is outrageous that National funded the Lords River settlement by raiding much of the money from the next three years' allocation for two schemes set up to protect indigenous forests on private land," she said.

"I can confirm that the Government will restore funding of these two schemes—the Nature Heritage Fund and the Nga Whenua Rahui fund—from some of the funds to be spent over the next 5 years as part of the $187m Biodiversity Strategy package, announced in this year’s Budget. Of this package, $37m is set aside to protect biodiversity on private land."

Ms Bunkle said the unique management processes in the Bill acknowledged the Rakiura Maori Land Trust as the representative of tangata whenua. She said they also acknowledged Rakiura's wish to preserve and protect the unique native forest and wildlife "not only for their own benefit but also for the benefit of the New Zealand public."

ENDS

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