Kaikoura Island to be protected and restored

  • Chris Carter

Kaikoura Island in the Outer Hauraki Gulf is to be protected, restored and used as an area for environmental education of New Zealand youth, Conservation Minister Chris Carter announced today.

"I am delighted to confirm that a joint venture deal has been struck to buy Kaikoura for $10.5m by combining resources from the government's Nature Heritage Fund, ASB Trusts, the Auckland Regional Council, and Auckland's territorial authorities," Mr Carter said.

"At 564 hectares, Kaikoura is the seventh largest island in the Hauraki Gulf. It is situated on Auckland's doorstep, next door to Great Barrier Island, in one of the world's most renowned sailing havens. As a home for kereru, kaka, morepork and kingfisher, it has immense potential as an important conservation area, once restored."

Mr Carter said the island was to be protected as public land under the Reserves Act, although it would be managed by a Trust representative of organisations which contributed to its purchase. The Trust would be appointed in the next few months.

"My hope is that Kaikoura Island will be a place where all of Auckland's communities can work side by side to restore a flourishing natural environment, as has occurred on another Gulf island, Tiritiri Matangi. The ASB Trusts have a vision of using Kaikoura as a centre for outdoor and environmental education of young people, and I heartily endorse that," Mr Carter said.

"The Labour-Progressive government's contribution to this purchase is occurring as part of our Public Wildlands Programme, which is designed to protect a wider variety of New Zealand's most spectacular and valuable natural areas in public ownership," Mr Carter said.

"Coastal environments and those in the South Island High Country have been a particular focus of the programme because they are poorly represented in the network of public conservation parks and reserves at present, and they are immensely popular recreation areas."

Key purchases in the government's Public Wildlands Programme to date include:

Location Area Region Purchase Price
Birchwood Station 23,783 hectares North Otago $10m
Part of Poplars Station 4,000 hectares North Canterbury $1.8m
Canaan Downs 758 hectares Nelson $1.8m
Waikawau Bay 149 hectares Coromandel $3.5m
Knuckle Point 378 hectares Northland $2.7m

(Molesworth Station in Marlborough spanning 180, 000 hectares, and over 130,000 hectares of former Timberlands forests on the West Coast, were also protected under this programme but did not require purchase.)

"I am very grateful to all the organisations that have said they will contribute to Kaikoura Island's purchase, particularly the ASB Trusts and the ARC, which have actually put their money on the table and enabled us to do a deal. I am also grateful to the New Zealand Native Forests Restoration Trust for their work in helping to bring the various parties together," Mr Carter said.

"I look forward to Auckland's territorial authorities deciding their level of contribution over the next few months."

Statement from the ASB Trusts

The ASB Trusts, which is the Community Trust for Auckland and Northland, has committed $2m to the purchase of Kaikoura Island.

The Trusts will also consider extending the amount of this donation if the local bodies of the Auckland region collectively make a substantial contribution to the project.

ASB Trusts members are taking a long-term view of the benefit to the region of this purchase.

Most especially, the Board has a vision of the island being included in a possible future Outward Bound in the Hauraki Gulf because it has a strong desire that the youth of the region are able to access and enjoy such a unique outdoor experience.

Kaikoura Island - Questions and Answers

Who is paying what in the deal for Kaikoura Island?
The government, through the Nature Heritage Fund, is paying atleast $6m. ASB Trusts will contribute $2m, although the Trusts will lift this contribution if the local authorities of the Auckland region also contribute. The Auckland Regional Council has already made a firm commitment of $250,000. Until the territorial authorities have decided what they will contribute, the government has underwritten the difference.

Why did Kaikoura Island cost $10.5m?
It was on the market for $12m. This price was based on the potential to subdivide, and provide an exclusive fishing lodge. The island was being marketed to overseas buyers, and the company that owned it had recent expressions of interest from parties wishing to purchase it.

What role has the New Zealand Native Forests Restoration Trust played in the purchase?
The Trust has acted as a catalyst in bringing the parties together and making an application to the ASB Community Trust and local authorities.

Where is the government's contribution coming from?
It is coming out of the budget of the Nature Heritage Fund, which is currently working on a significant government programme of conservation land purchases around the country, called the Public Wildlands Progamme. There have been at least six major purchases since 1999 in this programme, which is designed to increase the number of parks and reserves open to all New Zealanders, and protect a wider range of habitats for threatened native species.

How does Kaikoura fit into the Public Wildlands Programme?
It is a large island with a stunning location in the Ports of Fitzroy and Abercrombie. It has significant potential for restoration as a conservation area that is comparatively close to a major population centre, namely Auckland. There is a high level of community interest in the island, making it an excellent candidate for a community conservation initiative, and it is a popular recreation area for the yachting community.

Despite being highly modified, the island still sports regenerating native bush, notably manuka and kanuka. It has a significant stand of large ngaio on its eastern coast, which is both regionally and nationally important as ngaio of this size and number are now rare. The island is fringed by stands of pohutakawa, and sports some spectacular rocky outcrops and attractive beaches.

Kereru, kaka, morepork and kingfisher are found on the island, and will only increase in number once pest populations, such as deer and pigs, are eradicated.