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Coastal paradise saved from developers

Coastal paradise saved from developers

An untouched slice of Northland's coast has been saved from developers and preserved as a new scenic reserve, Conservation Minister Chris Carter announced today.

"The Nature Heritage Fund has paid $2.7m for 378 hectares of privately-owned land known as Paeroa at Knuckle Point on the Karikari Peninsula," Mr Carter said.

"Overseas buyers were prepared to pay up to $5 million for the block. But fortunately Paeroa's owners wanted to do something for future generations of New Zealanders and decided to sell the land to the Nature Heritage Fund and the Department of Conservation instead.

"I thank them for their foresight and urge other private landowners with surplus property rich in indigenous species to consider this option."

Mr Carter said Karikari Peninsula was an unspoiled headland with an unusual ecosystem worth protecting.

"It features a steep, rocky coastline with kanuka, towai, kohekohe and pohutakawa forests, estuaries and a wetland. Wildlife in the area includes the North Island fernbird, several varieties of skink, and a snail species native to the peninsula.

"Naturally, overseas buyers are attracted to the beauty of land like this but there are alternatives for landowners. The Nature Heritage Fund, which purchases private land for the conservation estate, is one way of reversing the current trend of coastal development."

Mr Carter said Karikari Peninsula was of great significance to Ngati Kahu. Among other things, the great explorer Kupe was understood to have spent a long time at Paeroa.

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The new reserve would be managed by the Department of Conservation under the Reserves Act 1977. Public access was assured, he said.

A spokesman for the Kauhoehoe Trust that owned the land, Pat Durham, said he had been keen for the block of land to remain in New Zealand hands so that generations of New Zealanders would continue to have access.

“We had lots of inquiries from buyers all over the world, keen to snap up this piece of land, but we were very pleased to see it pass into the Department of Conservation’s hands,” Mr Durham said.

“The land is very special to Ngati Kahu and going there is like entering another world. It’s very rugged yet accessible, and it has a huge amount of potential as a reserve.

“I’d really like to encourage other landowners in a similar position to put aside the commercial aspects of land-selling and ask themselves if they’d like to do something for New Zealand, for their children and grandchildren.”

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