The new conservation park on Great Barrier Island will ensure greater protection for the island’s unique flora, fauna, birds and wildlife, while also increasing tourism opportunities for the local community and Auckland, says Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye.
“I am absolutely delighted that Minister of Conservation Nick Smith has accepted a proposal I put forward last year to establish a conservation park on Barrier – this means that more than 12,000 hectares will receive higher status and better protection,” says Ms Kaye.
“Since it was first proposed in September last year, I have talked with many locals and Aucklanders who are very supportive of having another park, along with the benefits of greater protection for Barrier’s precious wildlife and plants.
“The area included in this new park is home to some of New Zealand’s most special native plant and wildlife. The park is the largest park of conservation status in Auckland, comparable in size to the Auckland Council’s Hunua and Waitakere Ranges parks.
“In particular I hope that young Aucklanders will visit the new park in the years to come. I have met many who have never visited the islands in the Hauraki Gulf. The park will be a major draw card and great for enhancing conservation education.”
The Aotea Conservation Park also presents the community with increased recreation and tourism opportunities, which can only benefit the island, Ms Kaye says.
“I welcome Minister Smith’s decision and look forward to working with residents on the next steps, which include ensuring strong island and iwi representation on the park’s advisory committee. I want to specifically acknowledge Ngati Rehua and the importance of ensuring it is an integral part of this committee.
“The estimated more than 50,000 visitors to the island each year are the main source of income for the island and local businesses.
“The Government has already invested around $1 million to ensure the island has better cellphone and broadband coverage. The $2.5 million announced today to help repair recent storm damage to island infrastructure, and ensure the Aotea track is in good shape, is crucial for the economic development of the island.
“The next project that I would love to see happen for the island is the designation of Aotea track as one of the ‘New Zealand Great Walks’. To have it recognised alongside the Milford, Tongariro, Heaphy and Routeburntracks would be an additional boost for tourism for the island and Auckland.
“Finally, I would like to thank the Minister of Conservation for his work in considering the proposal and submissions. This is a great day for Great Barrier Island and Auckland.”