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Accountability Needed Over Disastrous Failure To Care For Te Urewera

The Taxpayers’ Union is demanding accountability from the Department of Conservation (DOC) and the Te Urewera board following a ruling by the High Court that the burning and removal of the huts in Te Urewera was unlawful.

According to information obtained under the Official Information Act, The Department of Conservation continues to resource the operation of Te Urewera to the tune of around $2.1m a year given to Te Ura Taumata, and also pays over $100,000 annually to the Te Urewera Baord to manage the operation.

Commenting on Te Urewera’s management and operational issues, Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Connor Molloy, said:

“Since Te Urewera was handed over to Ngai Tūhoe nearly a decade ago, taxpayers have coughed up tens of millions of dollars to resource the upkeep and development of the area, yet the governing body has now been found to have failed to adhere to its obligations under the Te Urewera Act, destroyed the majority of critical huts in the area, and has conducted all of its work without an operational plan for the last two years.

“There have already been growing concerns from conservationists over the demise in monitoring of endangered bird species as well as insufficient pest control, but with the governing body now actively disregarding their legal obligations, it’s clear that the current leadership arrangement and operational structure is simply untenable.

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“In the first instance, DOC’s director general must be held accountable for what has evidently been an appalling failure to oversee the management of Te Urewera. Additionally, an independent review into Te Urewera’s finances and operations must be conducted to determine whether the current monetary allocation has been spent responsibly and in accordance with legal obligations.

“As it stands taxpayers are essentially being forced to fund an operation with no plan, no checks and balances, and no evidence of success. It is vital that if Te Urewera continues to be resourced by taxpayers, it’s board and operational entity must deliver tangible results and effectively carry out its legal obligations. Currently, to the detriment of taxpayers, it appears to be doing neither.”

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