Minister of Conservation meets successful DOC/iwi Joint Management Committee in Whakatane
Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication.
Date: 17 December 2018
On Friday 14 December 2018, the Honourable Minister of Conservation, Eugenie Sage made her first trip to an offshore pest-free island as Minister to accept the Annual Report for 2017-2018 from Te Tapatoru ā Toi (Joint Management Committee).
Te Tapatoru ā Toi was established under Subpart 5 of the Ngāti Awa Claims Settlement Act 2005 and is an integral part of the cultural redress package agreed between Ngāti Awa and the Crown for the settlement of historical Treaty of Waitangi Claims.
Te Tapatoru ā Toi jointly manages three iconic reserves in the Bay of Plenty, Moutohorā (Whale Island) Wildlife Management Reserve, Ōhope Scenic Reserve and Tauwhare Pā Scenic Reserve.
Te Tapatoru ā Toi and DOC support staff led by Te Kei Merito, current chair of the committee, welcomed the Honorable Minister and her party with a pōwhiri, which was followed by the presentation of the Annual Report. Mr. Merito is proud of the work accomplished by the committee in his tenure as chairman, “As the three iconic reserves in the care of Te Tapatoru ā Toi flourish, opportunities abound for future generations to enjoy their unique cultural and ecological dynamics.”
The Minister received presentations regarding the settlement history of the island and its successful restoration. Moutohorā is a prime example of a cohesive and unified approach in the creation of a pest-free sanctuary for threatened native species on offshore islands. The Minister was impressed by the collaborative work which has occurred on the island and appreciated seeing threatened species such as saddleback/ tīeke and tuatara flourish.
Jade King-Hazel, Operations Manager for DOC, was also pleased with the historic day. “This is the first time the Minister of Conservation has come and received this important report kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face) from Te Tapatoru ā Toi. Everyone really appreciated the effort of the Minister to make this special trip which is also the tenth anniversary of reporting on the Conservation Management Plan milestones and outcomes for the committee.”
Minister Sage also took time in the afternoon to walk the Whakatāne Kiwi Trust’s new Kiwi Wandering Trail which features 10 bronze life-sized kiwi sculptures which are place through town to create a family-friendly scavenger hunt. Thanks to the hard work of kiwi trust volunteers, the Whakatāne kiwi population has grown from eight birds in 1999 to over 300 presently. The Whakatāne Kiwi Trust works closely with Te Tapatoru ā Toi to ensure the kiwi populations are thriving in Ōhope Scenic Reserve and on Moutohorā (Whale Island).
Te Tapatoru ā Toi (Joint Management Committee) includes representatives of the Minister of Conservation, Ngāti Awa, and the Bay of Plenty Conservation Board.
Moutohorā, Ohope, and Tauwhare Pā reserves are important sources of evidence of traditional practices. For example, kumara was grown at all three locations in pre-European times, kuia (grey-faced petrel) harvests continue to occur, and all three reserves feature significant pā sites.
Moutohorā is one of the first New Zealand off shore islands to be managed for ecological restoration. The island was purchased by the Crown in 1984 and a planting programme began soon after followed by species translocations after the eradication of pests on the island. Landing on Moutohorā is not allowed however members of the public can experience the island through several authorised guiding concessionaires.
Mike Jones, Senior Community Ranger
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