• Nick Smith

Conservation Minister Nick Smith and Associate Fisheries Minister David Carter today announced that the Te Tapuwae o Rongokako Marine Reserve has received concurrence of Ministers and will be officially opened once the boundary survey and gazettal process is completed.

"This is a huge achievement for marine conservation and is very significant for Gisborne. Te Tapuwae o Rangokako is New Zealand's 16th marine reserve and is particularly significant as it is the result of a joint application by Ngati Konohi and the Department of Conservation," Dr Smith said.

The 2450 hectare Te Tapuwae o Rangokako Marine Reserve, near Whangara north of Gisborne, was approved by Dr Smith in July this year and was referred to the Ministers of Fisheries and Transport for their concurrence, as required by the Marine Reserves Act.

Mr Carter said the marine reserve would not have a significant long-term adverse impact on the commercial lobster catch of the area and will not unduly affect recreational fishers. "Successfully establishing a marine reserve requires the balancing of different interest group's views. This is reflected in the need for the Fisheries Minister and the Conservation Minister to work together on the proposal. After considerable consultation with all parties concerned with the Te Tapuwae o Rongokako Marine Reserve, I am pleased that both Conservation Minister Nick Smith and I have given the Government's approval to it."

"The establishment of this reserve is the culmination of nine years of leadership and work by Konohi Kaumatua the late Jack Haapu, to see his tribe's traditional customary food gathering area protected as a nursery and sanctuary for the benefit of future generations," said Dr Smith

Te Tapuwae o Rongokako recalls the legendary footsteps of a famous ancestor. Those 'footsteps' still hold a rich diversity of marine habitat ranging from sandy beaches to intertidal reef platforms, inshore reefs, kelp forests and sediment flats, which make this one of the spectacular and interesting marine environments in the Gisborne region.

"This reserve was only made possible with local people's cooperation and willingness to compromise. We will be planning an appropriate opening for the new reserve with Ngati Konohi," Dr Smith said.