Today the Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage has joined Ngāti Waewae to unveil the pou whenua for the Mokihinui addition to the Kahurangi National Park. This pou whenua acknowledges the role of Ngāti Waewae as mana whenua for this place and their role as kaitiaki.
"The unveiling of the pou whenua is a significant milestone to mark the largest-ever added to a national park," says Eugenie Sage.
"The Mokihinui River catchment is highly significant to Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Waewae. It contains a combination of geology, landforms, riverine habitat, vegetation, animal and plant life not found elsewhere.
"National park status ensures stronger protection of the Mokihinui area's significant cultural, ecological, historic and recreational values.
"I acknowledge Ngāti Waewae for operating in good faith throughout the process which has required compromise on their part.
"In the forthcoming review of the Kahurangi National Park Plan, the Department of Conservation will work closely with Ngāti Waewae I'm addressing their cultural interests and customary rights within the park.
"A hydro-electric dam was proposed for the Mokihinui River in 2007. The hydro scheme attracted considerable public interest and strong opposition because of its environmental impacts. It would have flooded the Mokihinui Gorge and inundated beech-podocarp forests and significant habitats of threatened plants and wildlife such as whio/blue duck, kaka, bats and giant land snails.
Kahurangi is our second largest park behind Fiordland National Park which covers more than 1,230,000 hectares. With the addition of the Mokihinui land, Kahurangi has increased in size by 14% to 517,335 hectares.
(With Inputs from New Zealand Government Press Release)