Hon Dr Nick Smith, Minister of ConservationConservation
The Minister of Conservation, the Hon Nick Smith, and the MP for Te Tai Rawhiti, the Hon Tuariki Delamere, completed a unique partnership between local Maori and the Crown today at Tukaki Marae near Te Kaha.
The Maungaroa Incorporation and the Iwiroa Trust near Te Kaha agreed to set aside 14 thousand hectares of indigenous forest on their own land for the enjoyment of all New Zealanders. The land is now part of an exciting scheme initiated by the Government as part of its indigenous forest policy.
The two Government Ministers today handed over a cheque for half a million dollars to the Te Kaha groups to help them manage the indigenous forest blocks.
Today's ceremony is a special moment for the Minister of Conservation, the Hon Nick Smith.
"This occasion highlights for me the fact that Maori land and conservation issues can work hand in hand. Often Maori and DOC are portrayed as groups with naturally conflicting principles, and always at loggerheads. I hope to change this broken record," said Mr Smith.
The Hon Tuariki Delamere also has a personal reason for visiting Tukaki Marae today.
"Tiopira Joe Phares who was the driving force behind this partnership deal with the Crown passed away earlier this year.
"His great contribution and understanding of the need for Maori management of conservation areas must be acknowledged.
"The indigenous forest could have been cut down to make way for pines. But the unselfishness and foresight of local Maori means the forests will be there for future generations to enjoy," said Mr Delamere.