9 Dec 2013

DoC recommends Great Barrier pest-free park

11:18 am on 9 December 2013

The Government says a move to create New Zealand's largest pest-free park would make it harder for businesses to get the go-ahead for mining and hotels on Great Barrier Island.

Conservation Minister Nick Smith says a discussion document by his department supports the upgrade of 12,100 hectares of stewardship land on the island into a new park.

Stewardship land is the lowest classification of public land and offers the least protection.

Dr Smith says he supports the proposal as it would make it harder for major commercial activities to gain approval, while enhancing the island's recreational and tourism opportunities.

He says it would provide more legal protection and greater access to funds for species enhancement.

The Parliamentary Commissioner released a report in August criticising the governing of stewardship land, saying the laws are confusing, contradictory and often poorly administered. Commissioner Jan Wright said the law needs to be clarified and stewardship land graded into high or low conservation areas.

Public submissions close on 28 February 2014 and hearings take place in March and April.