Update 25 October 2022
Below is a copy of a protest letter written by a group of Ngāi Tūhoe Kaumātuas which is to be delivered to the New Zealand Parliament today.
If you wish to sign a petition "STOP Te Urewera Hut Removal", go to this link https://www.change.org/p/stop-te-urewera-hut-remov...
A Waitangi Deed of Settlement between a New Zealand Maori grouping named Ngāi Tūhoe and the New Zealand government was signed on 4th June 2013. Ngāi Tūhoe’s area of land interest is based around the Te Urewera National Park in New Zealand’s North Island which was established in 1954 and comprises 2,127 square miles (212,673ha).
Te Urewera National Park is now a new legal entity - Te Urewera Board, established by way of an act of parliament, The Urewera Act 2014; https://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2014/0051/latest/DLM6183601.html The Act sets out governance and management arrangements including the protection of natural, historical and cultural heritage and public access which are intended to ensure the land is managed to an internationally acceptable standard for national parks. It was designated that the Te Urewera land was to be managed by the Department of Conservation (DoC) and Ngāi Tūhoe and In terms of the Treaty Settlement. And therefore, in 2014 the former Te Urewera National Park was duly turned over to Ngāi Tūhoe to be managed in partnership with the New Zealand Department of Conservation as required.
Soon thereafter a spokesperson for Ngāi Tūhoe was quoted as saying “co-governance is not our term, Mana Motuhake is our term, self determination, with the principle being autonomy and control”.
Subsequently it became necessary to close the Te Urewera Park to the public from time to time because several of the remote huts and some swing bridges were deemed to be in need of repair however Ngāi Tūhoe wouldn’t allow repairs to be carried out notwithstanding that DoC indicated a willingness to fund repairs. Furthermore, it was reported that Ngāi Tūhoe didn’t consider repairs were necessary and suggested that if DoC didn’t like the situation, they could remove the structures.
Fast forward to October 2022
It has recently been reported that fifty five back-country huts are to be demolished and one of the huts had already been removed. A spokesperson from the Tūhoe authority - Te Uru Taumatua, indicated that it plans to have the rest removed by the end of 2022. The plan will eliminate all existing accommodation facilities presently available for the very many sightseers, trampers, hunters, wildlife observers, mountain bikers and fisher people etc who seek to enjoy the magnificence of the Te Urewera region.
The New Zealand Conservation Minister, Poto Williams has signed off on the plan which would appear to be a deliberate strategy to exclude visitors who are not of Tūhoe descent.
How can the Department of Conservation watch on while this network of fifty five iconic back-country huts is eliminated in contradiction with the terms and intentions of the 2013 Waitangi Deed of Settlement. It is outrageous!
Former New Zealand prime minister Rt Hon Jim Bolger is a member of the board of Te Urewera and it is to be hoped he is not asleep at the wheel with regard to current Te Urewera governance matters.
Is this how the concept of co-governance in New Zealand is intended to play out in a wider sense?