Help us create Aotea (Great Barrier) National Park

25 Feb 2014

Forest & Bird is working to ensure that the public conservation land on Great Barrier Island is made into a national park.

No Man's Land

A third of the conservation estate is in limbo, waiting for its natural values to be rated. This unclassified land – known as stewardship land, deserves recognition because currently it is no man’s land. It has a low level of protection resulting in poor conservation outcomes and has cost organisations, like us, a lot of money. Last year, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE), Dr Jan Wright, identified Great Barrier as a piece of stewardship land that had high conservation value, yet low protection. The Minister of Conservation directed DOC to amend the status of this land.  To find out more about stewardship land, see here:

Photo: Craig Potton.

Sixty percent of Great Barrier’s land lies in the conservation estate and it is home to a number of rare and threatened species. 

This island has it all; white sand ocean beaches, untouched wetlands, thermal streams, and a network of deep water fiords, edged by untouched native forest.

Most of this publically-owned land is stewardship land (12, 109ha), which is unclassified by the Department of Conservation (DOC).

DOC has put forward a proposal to turn  this land into a conservation park.

A significant focus for a conservation park is on recreation – conservation park status gives the land no greater protection against destructive activities like logging.

We believe national park status will give this stunning unique sanctuary the protection and recognition it deserves.

Why is it ecologically important?

The island contains the largest area of forest in New Zealand that is known to be possum-free.

Mustelids, Norway rats and hedgehogs are also absent, so with a little hands-on management many species are beginning to recover after the cessation of many habitat-destroying activities such as mining and logging.

Some of the species that live on the island, include -  

•    The nationally vulnerable Taiko/black petrel (Procellaria parkinsonii), which nest principally on Hirakimata and other high points on Aotea as well as on Hauturu/Little Barrier Island.
•    Titi/Cook’s petrel (Pterodroma cookii), which breeds only on Aotea, Hauturu/Little Barrier and Codfish Islands.
•    Stronghold populations of North Island kaka (Nestor meridionalis septentrionalis) and mohopereru/banded rail (Rallus phillipensis assimilis).
•     Thirteen species of lizard, including niho taniwha/chevron skink (Oligosoma homalonotum), which is found only on Aotea and Hauturu/Little Barrier Island.
•    The only island population of pepeketua/Hochstetter’s frog (Leiopelma hochstetteri).
•    Stronghold populations of endangered pateke/brown teal.

Additionally it is an Important Bird Area (IBA) for seabirds, which means that it is recognised internationally as important for bird conservation.

From Land to Sea: National Park Status

The island is an integral part of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park (HGMP) which is recognised as New Zealand’s first marine national park.

Aotea is the largest island in the Hauraki Gulf’s archipelago of 50 islands, so it is appropriate it should be accorded national park status.

Scenic and recreational reserves to be added

There are several reserves that lie alongside the boundary of the conservation estate which should be included in the national park.

These pockets of land meet the National Park criteria and will allow these areas to finally receive proper protection.

By adding these parcels of land to the national park, it would join Abel Tasman and Rakioura National Park as New Zealand’s third national park to have easily accessible coastal features.

Furthermore, it would give conservation authorities a coherent administrative & policy platform to manage this public land.

New Zealand’s first Northern National Park? 

There are currently four national parks on the North Island – Te Urewera, Tongariro, Whanganui, Egmont – which cover a vast patchwork of Central North Island forest types.

Great Barrier holds a forest type that is typical of our Northern forests, including kauri forests, shrubland associated with rhylotic rocks and areas of pohutukawa-dominated forest.

The range of wildlife & plant-life is both representative and in some cases unique and best of all can be enhanced and restored comparatively easily.

As well as protecting this key forest type, national park status would –

•   Allow the local people, Auckland Council and the Government to formulate a protection, enhancement and economic development strategy to secure Great Barrier Island’s future.
•    Put it on the map for visiting international tourists, bringing year-round economic benefits for operators and locals.
•    Safeguard this land for eternity, so authorities and the local community can further enhance the conservation estate through re-introductions of long-lost species, such as kokako.
•    Create a park of national significance on the doorstep of New Zealand’s largest city.
•    Further improve the walking tracks throughout this area.

Submissions wanted!

Join us in our call in make the public land on Great Barrier into a national park!

You can either write your own submission (see documents below), or use our e-submission form here. 

Submisions must be received by 5pm February 28th, 2014.

•    Read DOC’s Aotea Conservation Park Proposal

•    Forest & Bird's submission and supporting information.