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Updated at 10:53 pm on 16 July 2012
The largest remaining wetland forest on Taranaki's Ring Plain has been opened, following six years of preservation work by Maori land owners.
It's been fenced off to prevent cattle from destroying the regenerating bush, which includes tawa, ikau and pukatea.
The 20 hectare Pipiriki Forest at Oaonui was officially launched at Te Potaka Marae.
Kaumatua from Pipiriki on the Whanganui River joined Ngati Tara and Taranaki iwi Tuturu owners for the celebrations.
They remembered the six-day journey their ancestors used to make from Pipiriki to Parihaka in the 1960s, to see the prophets Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi.
Te Uraura Nganeko, of Taranaki, has been associated with the project from the beginning.
He says the forest is significant for local whanau, because it rekindles their relationship with the Whanganui people, and given the amount of wetland forest that was cleared for farming, it stands as a legacy.
Mr Nganeko says the project is the result of Maori landowners working together, with funding from the QEII National Trust, the Taranaki Regional Council, the South Taranaki District Council and Te Puni Kokiri.
The work to preserve the forest was facilitated by the Whanganui office of the Maori Trustee, Jamie Tuuta.
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