New marine reserve off the Taranaki coast

  • Steve Chadwick

The establishment of the new Tapuae Marine Reserve off the Taranaki coast near New Plymouth was announced today by Conservation Minister Steve Chadwick.


"The reserve comes into effect today and will protect 1404 ha off the Taranaki coast. This is another important step in protecting New Zealand’s diverse marine environment," Steve Chadwick said.


The reserve adjoins the Sugar Loaf Island Marine Protected Area (SLIMPA) and stretches from Herekawe Stream in the north to Tapuae Stream in the south.


"Our marine environment is a large part of who we are as New Zealanders, and I am pleased to able to announce another move in protecting these precious natural resources.


"Taranaki is known for its rugged coast, but the Seal Rock/Waikaranga Island provides a natural shield, resulting in a wide variety of habitats and sheltered areas. It’s this complexity that has allowed a diverse range of marine life to flourish."


Schools of pelagic and reef fish are found within the marine reserve area. The islands and associated coastline are important breeding and haul-out sites for New Zealand furs seals and contain their northernmost breeding population.


"The marine reserve is the result of years of hard work by the applicants, the Ng? Motu Marine Reserve Society, to safeguard this unique marine area on the west coast of the North Island."


A Marine Park was established in 1986 and in 1991 the Sugar Loaf Islands Marine Protected Area Act prohibited mining and established a protected area. The Ng? Motu Marine Reserve Society formed in 1999 and in 2005 they applied for the area to be declared a marine reserve.


In June 2006 the then Conservation Minister addressed concerns from Ngati Te Whiti and fishers about recreational and customary fishing by reducing the proposed reserve by 143 hectares.


"The Tapuae Marine Reserve has outstanding biodiversity values, both from a species and a community perspective, and establishing the reserve demonstrates the government’s commitment to marine protection."







Background information:


·        The marine reserve overlaps a part of the Sugar Loaf Islands Marine Protected Area (SLIMPA) and extends south-west adjacent to an area of the coast between the Herekawe Stream and the Tapuae Stream.  The establishment of the reserve increases the protection status of the SLIMPA where it overlaps it. The status of the remaining area of the SLIMPA continues to be governed only by the Sugar Loaf Islands Marine Protected Areas Act 1991.


·        This overlapping area of the marine reserve and the SLIMPA contains diverse habitats of rocks, canyons, caves, crevices, overhangs, boulder fields, sand, mud and lahar reefs, supporting a great variety of marine animal and algal life.


·        The marine reserve area contains both typical and the unique underwater scenery, natural features and marine life.  There are intertidal rocky platforms over two thirds of the length, interspersed with sand areas. This intertidal habitat is representative of the Cape Egmont Coastal Unit.


·        Paritutu and the Sugar Loaf Islands are distinct from the rest of the Cape Egmont Coastal Unit, being eroded from the hard andesitic intrusives (the remnant of an eroded volcano).  They provide the most shelter on an otherwise exposed coast and consequently support the most diverse communities.


·        Large schools of pelagic and reef fish, rock-lobster, paua, sponges, bryozoans, hydroids and a variety of other invertebrates are found within the marine reserve area.