Kevin Hague
Conservation week – lords of the forest

Tane Mahuta, lord of the forest. A tree that is truly magnificent, along with Te Matua Ngahere, father of the forest, who is our second largest Kauri. Estimated to be over 2000 years old, this means that it is possible that it lived through the large Taupo eruption of 180CE. Both trees grow in the Waipoua Forest in Northland. As early as the late 1940s there was a campaign to save some of the remaining Kauri Forest in Northland into the protection of a National Park. Unfortunately the Forest Service (replaced by DoC and the NZ Forestry Corporation in 1987) was both canny, and somewhat more preoccupied with protecting the forests under its possession so that they could be harvested than preserving our crown jewels. They moved before support would have seen the creation of a national park and created the Waipoua Forest Sanctuary. Wouldn’t it be great to see the early work of Roy McGregor finished with Waipoua gaining National Park status? Currently we have no National Parks in the far North and Waipoua would seem to be the ideal candidate to remedy that.

While DoC ponders the National Park Question our great Kauri are under threat. Kauri dieback , caused by a fungus-like plant pathogen, is threatening our greatest trees. While the exact origin of the disease is unknown it is likely that it’s like Didymo a foreign invader. As our climate changes we need to be prepared to mitigate and prevent more pests, invasive species and diseases gaining a foothold in New Zealand. That is why we want to see more effort invested into becoming more proactive with our biosecurity.

5 thoughts on “Conservation week – lords of the forest

  1. The Waipoua is my backyard (literally was for 30 years)and I was always under the impression that its sanctuary status was in fact more of a protection than National Park status. The Roy McGregor Trust added another section to the Waipoua some years ago and the plantings are coming along well.

    Given the passion of people like Stephen King (who lives next to the forest on the McGregor side) I cannot imagine they would stick with a lower-status designation – a sanctuary is just that, a place that cannot be touched.

    Re the die-back, yes, that is a real concern. We saw it happen with the cabbage trees over some years – but they are now recovering.

    Some of the rest of what was Forest Service land, some of it in pines, has been given back to Te Roroa as part of their Treaty settlement. It’s all adjacent but different title.

    I think you would need to check with the locals as to how they/we feel about changing the sanctuary to a National Park – it’s never been an issue that I’m aware.

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  2. I wonder then what that was – I might be forgiven for wondering why Kate Wilkinson is so keen since her party is the one that wants to make a buck out of everything. Mountain bike tracks? Selective logging? Why the sudden desire for a change in status? By this government…

    I should add that the current Northland Conservation Board is pretty much a Nat-appointed group. I was on it some years ago with Jon Field but they didn’t want us back…

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  3. A quick search found that the Waipoua is governed by the Waipoua Forest Trust (which I sort of knew).

    Waipoua Forest Trust is an environmental organisation in New Zealand which is set up to protect the kauri forests in the Waipoua area.

    The objectives are stated as:

    “Recognising the special value that the natural taonga (treasure) of Waipoua has to all New Zealanders, the Trust was established as a bicultural partnership in 1998 to: “protect, restore, interpret and promote the internationally significant natural heritage at Waipoua for the scientific, educational and spiritual benefit of New Zealand”, and:

    1. To establish a millennial Kauri Forest to commemorate the second millennium and to celebrate the third millennium since the birth of Christ;
    2. To protect and restore the native fauna at Waipoua with particular emphasis on Kiwi, Kokako and reginally rare or regionally extinct species including Kaka, Kakariki and Korimako;
    3. To foster understanding of Kauri Forest and associated ecosystems through education and research, participation and management or other means, with special but not exclusive focus on the education of young people and Maori;
    4. To provide an advocacy role for the protection and restoration of Kauri and related forest ecosystems within New Zealand;
    5. To support the people known as Te Iwi O Te Roroa in their guardianship role for the protection of Waipoua Forest;
    6. To promote and protect Wahi Tapu and archaeological sites in accordance with Tikanga Maori;
    7. To assist and co-operate with others in New Zealand sharing similar aims.”

    I note that DOC’s proposal involves discussing with Te Roroa, local bodies – but not apparently this Trust. Or the local community per se.

    Time to do more checking on this – how will a National Park be more beneficial to Waipoua? If it isn’t why do it?

    I’m not anti it you understand, just puzzled.

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