At a rowdy Back Benches pub TV show last night, Keith Locke made the observation that yesterday was a special anniversary.
On 23 September 1887, Te Heuheu Tukino of Tuwharetoa gifted the mountains of Tongariro, Ngaruhoe and Ruapehu to the people of Aotearoa. As Frog’s kiwidiary notes, this allowed all New Zealanders access and usage for recreation, but also gave us all responsibility to care for and protect these sacred mountains. Parliament passed the Tongariro National Park Act in 1894.
This anniversary was sullied by the fact that the Crown is now considering the Park’s mining potential. The Minister of Energy and Resources and the Minister of Conservation are undertaking a stocktake of high value conservation places listed in Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act, which includes all National Parks.
Despite the Acting Minister of Tourism’s attempts to play it down with the comment that “the Minister of Energy and Resources has not said anything about opening up national parks to mining”, that Minister Brownlee has refused to rule National Parks like Tongariro out of the stocktake, saying to Metiria: “The member knows which bits of the national parks are in schedule 4 — all of them, in fact. But we have said that we are doing a stocktake of the lands in schedule 4 — end of story.”
What a way to celebrate such a generous gift to the Crown and people of these lands – to include them in the Government’s treasure-hunt folly. I wonder what Te Heuheu Tukino’s mokopuna, National Minister Hon Georgina Te Heuheu, thinks of the idea?