• Nick Smith

The Minister of Conservation Nick Smith said today that all New Zealanders will benefit from an increase of 34,000 hectares of land for conservation, as a result of the Ngai Tahu settlement. As part of the settlement, the government will transfer three high country stations, on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, to Ngai Tahu. These are the Routeburn, Elfin Bay and Greenstone stations. Ngai Tahu will then, in a very significant gesture, gift more than 13,000 hectares of the peaks of this land to all New Zealanders. As well as the mountain tops, Ngai Tahu has agreed to lease 22,000 hectares of the surrounding land with high conservation values to the government in perpetuity, at a peppercorn rental. DOC will manage this land for conservation purposes. Access to all the land on these stations will be guaranteed, unlike the current situation.

"This is a huge gain for conservation. The beautiful and unique mountains surrounding Lake Wakatipu are of great significance for conservation in New Zealand. Having these peaks as public land administered by the Department of Conservation is a real bonus for all New Zealanders".

The settlement also transfers some conservation land, 930 hectares, to Ngai Tahu but the conservation values identified on that land are protected by covenants.

The title to Aoraki/Mt Cook will be transferred to Ngai Tahu, who will on the same day, gift it back to all New Zealanders. The public will still have access to the mountain, but will be asked to respect the cultural significance of Aoraki as an ancestor of Ngai Tahu.

"I wish to acknowledge the hard work and effort of all those involved in these negotiations. It is now up to the people of Ngai Tahu to decide whether they will accept this offer or not. If this offer is accepted, Ngai Tahu will become more involved in the day-to day management of the Department of Conservation".

More information about what this offer means for the Department of Conservation is available on the internet at http://www.doc.govt.nz/