Conservation Week launches with new proposal

Conservation Week runs from September 8 to September 15. Photo / Richard Robinson
Conservation Week runs from September 8 to September 15. Photo / Richard Robinson

Conservation Week has launched today with a proposal for a new conservation park on Great Barrier Island and a pest eradication programme on Rakitu Island in the Hauraki Gulf.

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith said $190,000 from the Nature Heritage Fund was being committed to rid Rakitu Island of rats.

"These pests are a major problem for native birds on the island like the teal duck, morepork, grey warbler, shining cuckoo, silvereye, little blue penguin, and moko, copper and ornate skinks.

"It would also make the island safe for native birds like bellbirds and whiteheads."

The rat eradication programme on the 327 hectare Rakitu Island would take two to three years to plan and complete and would involve an extensive programme of brodifacoum poisoning.

Ngati Rehua Ngatiwai ki Aotea trust board chair Nicola MacDonald said the iwi had kaitiaki responsibilities for Rakitu and knew removing the rats was a vital step to reviving the mauri of the island.

"We are looking forward to working with DOC to restore Rakitu's natural heritage, its wildlife and its forest, for everyone to enjoy."

Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye said Great Barrier Island was a natural treasure and deserved a higher conservation status than stewardship land.

"A new conservation park on Great Barrier Island would be a great asset for Auckland and would help build the recreation and tourism potential of the island.

"My proposal is for the 15,000 hectares of public conservation land on the island, currently stewardship land, to be designated a new Conservation Park.

"This makes up about 55 per cent of the island and is found in the north and east portions."

The legal effect of the change would result in greater protection for the island's flora and fauna and an increased emphasis on recreation, Ms Kaye said.

"I look forward to talking to residents, and Aucklanders, about my proposal for this new Conservation Park.

"If adopted it would be of similar size to the Hunua and Waitakere Ranges Regional Parks and would be the largest DOC Park in Auckland."

Dr Smith said the conservation park proposal was consistent with the recent Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment report seeking a review of higher value stewardship land.

"I am instructing DOC to report on the proposal and initiate a process of consultation with the local iwi and the Great Barrier and Auckland communities."

Conservation Week runs from September 8 to September 15.

More information can be found here.

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