3 Jul 2011

Te Roroa elder criticises haste over national park

11:00 am on 3 July 2011

A Te Roroa elder says the proposal for a Kauri National Park in Northland is hasty and ill-considered.

Gary Hooker says the Department of Conservation's plan for a small fragmented park based on Waipoua Forest does not consider its impact on Te Roroa or their wahi tapu (sacred sites).

He says it also ignores the iwi's desire for co-governance of the forest with the department - something the National Parks Act does not allow.

He says the act is quite old, and the country has moved on a great deal since it was written.

Mr Hooker says Te Roroa has suggested to the Crown that it should pass special enabling legislation to allow a true partnership between the department and tangata whenua.

He says there is some suspicion among Te Roroa that the Government wants to be able to announce the good news of a new national park before the election. But he says it is more important to get the proposal right rather than rush it through.

Conservationist also disappointed

The department's proposal has also disappointed veteran conservationist Stephen King.

Mr King, chairman of the New Zealand Native Forest Restoration Trust, has lived and worked in Waipoua forest for 20 years.

He says the proposed national park is too small and does not include surrounding lands, including the trust's, which should be part of it.

He says there is no point in giving Waipoua national park status unless the Government is prepared to put money into the park. It may make more sense to make it a national reserve, he says, because that would allow tangata whenua a greater governance role.