Decision : CONF 001 VIII.2
Te Wahinounamu - Southwest New Zealand (New Zealand)
The Bureau recalled that at its last session the Committee was informed that the Government of New Zealand had approved an application from a private company for a licence to export water from this World Heritage site. The exportation of freshwater would require the construction of a dam, a buried pipeline and four large reservoirs at Jackson's Bay. The Committee noted that the visual and ecological impacts of the proposed development project were not clearly known and that the legal and economic considerations which guided the decision to approve the project were being actively debated in New Zealand.
The Bureau noted with satisfaction that the Minister of Conservation has subsequently indicated to the private company (Okuru Enterprises Ltd.) that he would not approve locating the pipeline inside the Mt. Aspiring National Park located within this World Heritage site. Authorities of the Okuru Enterprises Ltd. are now modifying their application to obtain water from a creek situated outside the boundaries of the National Park. The changes which the Okuru Enterprises Ltd. will introduce to the original proposal will be advertized for public comment and have to be agreed upon on a consensual basis. Following this procedure, a new report on the modified proposal will be submitted to the Minister of Conservation so that all relevant information could be re-assessed. The Bureau concurred with the New Zealand authorities that it will be some time before a final decision at Ministerial level is taken on the acceptability of the modified proposal. The Bureau noted that the New Zealand authorities have assured the Centre that the environmental impact of the modified proposal will be carefully considered and that decisions will not be made in haste, and that the maintenance of the values of the World Heritage area will be an important consideration in reviewing any project for water export. The Bureau requested the Centre and IUCN to remain regularly updated on the the review of the water-export proposal to be carried out by New Zealand's Department of Conservation.