A Conservation Park for Great Barrier Island
Department of Conservation land.

A greater level of protection?
by Liz Westbrooke

Map of Proposed
Conservation Park

Kaitoke Stream and wetlands are a significant
conservation asset.  Photo: Fenella Christian

The Minister of Conservation proposed in September that the public conservation land on Great Barrier be given greater protection by being designated a new Conservation Park. DOC has started a process of public consultation with Aotea iwi and the Great Barrier and Auckland communities and will then prepare a report on the proposal for the Minister.

Some preliminary discussions with interest groups and key stakeholders on the proposed Park have been held on the island and DOC’s proposed timings from here are:

• Early December 2013 –Compilation of discussion document and public notification of the proposal

• From the date of public notification there will be 40 working days for people to submit on the proposal

• Feb–Mar 2014 – Analyse submissions, and run hearings for those wishing to speak to their submission

• DOC prepares report for the Minister of Conservation by May 2014 on the proposed Conservation Park, and Minister makes decision whether to gazette a new conservation park.

You will be able to make a submission and make your thoughts known from the public notification date which will be widely advertised on island and in the major newspapers. Some of the questions I have asked are:

Why a Conservation Park?

81% of the public conservation land here is in Stewardship, a hangover from 1987 when the Department was formed from parts of Lands and Survey, Forestry etc. The Conservation Park status will create a stronger layer of protection from activities such as mining and provides for recreation and tourism. A Park provides a single marketing and management entity.

How will it work with the existing protection status such as Historic or Scientific Reserve?
All the current legal protection mechanisms (such as Historic Reserve) will remain in place. The Conservation Park can be seen as an underlying layer.

Will DOC review and add some more layers of reserve where there are none but the area is of high ecological value e.g. Te Paparahi?
The main focus is the land currently managed as stewardship land; however DOC will also look at some other DOC reserves and make sure that their classification is appropriate.

How do Rakitu and Motu Kaikoura fit in?
They are not included at present. Motu Kaikoura is run by a separate Trust therefore not administered by DOC and the lease on Rakitu expires this month and will revert to Crown administration. Both Motu Kaikoura and Rakitu are scenic reserves and have a high level of protection already under the Reserves Act.

Can this be a stepping stone to a National Park at some point in the future?
(The last Local Board’s submission on the Conservation Management Strategy (CMS) suggested a National Park status for the DOC land on Aotea).

The definitions of National Park and Conservation Park are as follows:
A National Park is an area of land (or land and water) containing scenery of such distinctive quality, ecological systems, or natural features so beautiful, unique or scientifically important that they are of national interest.

• Kiwiriki Bay has some of the largest mangroves on Great Barrier. Some people think mangroves create muddy conditions, but of course they do not make the mud. Fine sediments are often the result of human activities in surrounding catchments, and the mangroves simply trap the sediments with their protruding breathing roots. mangroves. “As I paddled up the creek I watched a pied shag chasing juvenile parore underwater beneath the mangroves.”
Photos: J Ogden

 A Conservation Park is an area of land (or land and water) containing predominantly natural systems, managed to ensure long term protection and maintenance of biological diversity, while providing recreational and visitor opportunities.

So in summary a Conservation Park provides protection while still giving weight to recreation opportunities with fewer restrictions than a National Park. Think about this difference and decide what is most appropriate here.

Then is a Marine Reserve being considered as well?
No, it is not part of this process.
It’s a great step forward and congratulations to the Minister and Department of Conservation for starting the ball rolling! As we said in our submission to the Conservation Management Strategy, the purchase of Glenfern Sanctuary into the public conservation estate (it is for sale) would mean that Fitzroy House could make a superb historic Park HQ.
Remember to watch out for the Discussion Document before Christmas and please make your submissions over the holiday period.

The Conservation Park. Hauturu (Little Barrier Island) viewed from Maungapiko. 
Note the healthy kauri rickers in the foreground.  Photo: J Ogden