New national park in Catlins if Nats elected

Tautuku Bay and Tautuku Peninsula, The Catlins. Photo: Getty Images
Tautuku Bay and Tautuku Peninsula, The Catlins. Photo: Getty Images
Two new National Parks - including one in the Catlins - have been promised by the National Party if they get elected.

It has also committed to building two new Great Walks, funding new predator-free ecological sanctuaries, working with Iwi to progress the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary and re-committing to the Predator Free New Zealand 2050 goal.

National's conservation policy to "protect New Zealand's backyard" is the second big announcement from the party today after this morning's law and order policy release.

Leader Judith Collins said establishing the new National Parks and the sanctuary in the Kermadecs would "protect and improve our biodiversity while ensuring more Kiwis get to experience our natural environment".

"We are the party of practical conservation, we want all New Zealanders to be able to enjoy our great outdoors."

National's conservation commitments include:

• Establish two new National Parks – one on the Coromandel Peninsula and one in the Catlins, alongside two new Great Walks. These would be formed on existing conservation land. One would be along the Kaimai Range from Mt Te Aroha to SH29.

• Re-commit to the "audacious" Predator Free New Zealand 2050 goal National set while it was last in government.

• Work constructively with Iwi on the establishment of the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, alongside further marine reserves.

• Ensure New Zealanders are able to continue to enjoy access to recreational fishing and whitebaiting, and that commercial fishing stocks are managed sustainably so
recreational fishers are not adversely impacted.

• Provide $15m in DOC funding to predator-free sanctuaries that have been devastated by a reduction in international visitors and public donations due to Covid-19. National said this would help sanctuaries like Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari, Wellington's Zealandia and Dunedin's Orokonui Sanctuary "continue their crucial work".

• Update the 1993 Tahr Management Plan "to ensure its stays true to its principles of balancing environmental needs with commercial and recreational hunting opportunities".

This year the High Court told the Department of Conservation it had to consult on its plans to eradicate tahr from the Aoraki/Mount Cook and Westland Tai Poutini National Parks.

Himalayan tahr. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
Himalayan tahr. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.

Hunting groups erupted in anger and took DoC to court but environmentalists said the eradication plan for the introduced Himalayan tahr didn't go far enough to protect the alpine landscape.

At the time, National's conservation spokesperson Jacqui Dean supported the High Court decision, saying it was a win for hunters and the $17m commercial tahr industry.

In its policy document today, National said - if elected - it would utilise groups like the Game Animal Council in the control of tahr, wallaby and other game animals.

"National recognises that for many New Zealanders, recreational fishing and hunting are a way of life, and one that we will work to protect.

"We also believe that the fishing and hunting communities have an important role to play in the conservation effort, as partners with government alongside local communities and NGOs.

"National will ensure that New Zealanders continue to enjoy access to recreational fishing and hunting opportunities, balanced with careful, sustainable management of animal stocks and strict enforcement of existing conservation rules to ensure sustainability and the continued recovery of our native species."

National's other conservation policy commitments include:

Guarantee freedom of entry to all public conservation land, and ensure that DoC huts, walking tracks and camping grounds are maintained to a high standard.

Amend the National Park management plans to allow for more recreational and commercial activities where these deliver a net conservation gain.

• Provide an opportunity for limited grazing on Crown pastoral lease land that has
been through tenure review, provided there is a net conservation benefit from that activity and a net financial benefit to the Crown.

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