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Tongariro National Park

New Zealand
Factors affecting the property in 1998*
  • Management activities
  • Society's valuing of heritage
  • Volcanic eruption
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports

Increase of the possom population and use of poison (issue resolved)

 

International Assistance: requests for the property until 1998
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 1998**
Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1998
At its last session (June 1998) the Bureau was informed that Mount Ruapehu had erupted in 1995 and 1996 draining the volcano’s crater lake and creating a build-up of ash that blocked the lake’s outlet. When the crater-lake refills, probably within the next few years, and if nature is left to take its course, a rapid collapse of the ash dam could occur followed by a major lahar that could put both human life and some natural values at risk. The Bureau was informed that the Park authorities were in continuous consultation with the Maori people, who gifted the sacred volcanic peaks as a National Park in 1887, in order to find a solution that respects their spiritual, traditional and cultural values. An Environmental Impact Assessment is awaited. The Bureau commended the State Party for its recognition of the cultural and natural World Heritage values of Tongariro National Park. The Bureau requested the New Zealand authorities to keep the Centre informed about the outcome of decisions concerning the management of the ash build-up at the crater outlet of Mount Ruapehu.

The New Zealand, authorities in their letter of 11 September 1998, have pointed out that an eruption of the Mt. Ruapehu in 1953 caused one of the country’s major civilian disasters and that there is an inevitability of a lahar from the crater following the present eruption. The Minister for Conservation has called for a comprehensive environmental and cultural assessment identifying the risks and assessing impacts of options for mitigating them. The New Zealand authorities consider the following three as the most practical options at present:
(a) installing an alarm and warning system;
(b) building structures off the mountain to contain the lahar expected when the ashdam fails; and
(c) bulldozing a trench through the ash-dam itself, although the sub-option of hand digging a shallow trench has not yet been entirely dismissed.

The Park management is in regular consultation with the Ngati Rangi and the Ngati Tuwharetoa tribes to exchange information and views and it appears very clear that they do not like the idea of engineering works at the Crater Lake. Ngati Rangi consider that the excavation at the crater “challenges the indigenous integrity and strength of the cultural World Heritage status” of the Park. However, both tribes understand the risks to public safety and infrastructure (e.g. bridges and roads) and the Paramount Chief of Ngati Tuwharetoa intends to convene a consultation group to work through the issues with Park management. When the draft report on the environmental and cultural assessment is ready to be released both tribes will be consulted. The Department of Conservation is committed to a consultation process that will support an exemplary code of ethical conduct and field conservation practice that emphasise social responsibility and cultural sensitivity. The Director of the Centre is expected to attend the World Heritage Celebrations due to take place in Tongariro National Park during the week-end of 21-22 November 1998 and will provide an update on the situation in Tongariro at the time of the twenty-second extraordinary session of the Bureau.

Action Required
Decision required: The Bureau may wish to adopt the following text and transmit it to the Committee for noting:
“The Bureau commends the New Zealand authorities for the ethically and culturally sensitive manner in which they are addressing this issue. The Bureau requests the Centre and IUCN to submit a status update on the management of the ash build up at the Crater Lake outlet on Mt. Ruapehu to its twenty-third session in 1999.”
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1998

The New Zealand authorities in their letter of 11 September 1998, have pointed out that an eruption of the Mt. Ruapehu in 1953 caused one of the country’s major civilian disasters and that there is an inevitability of a lahar from the crater following the present eruption. The Minister for Conservation has called for a comprehensive environmental and cultural assessment identifying the risks and assessing impacts of options for their mitigation. The New Zealand authorities consider the following three as the most practical options at present:

(a)  installing an alarm and warning system;

(b)  building structures off the mountain to contain the lahar expected when the ash-dam fails; and

(c)  bulldozing a trench through the ash-dam itself, although the sub-option of hand digging a shallow trench has not yet been entirely dismissed.

 The Park management is in regular consultation with the Ngati Rangi and the Ngati Tuwharetoa Tribes to exchange information and views and it appears very clear that they do not like the idea of engineering works at the Crater Lake. Ngati consider that the excavation at the crater “challenges the indigenous integrity and strength of the cultural World Heritage status” of the Park. However, both Tribes understand the risks to public safety and infrastructure (e.g. bridges and roads) and the Paramount Chief of Ngati Tuwharetoa intends to convene a consultation group to work through the issues with Park management. When the draft report on the environmental and cultural assessment is ready to be released, both Tribes will be consulted. The Department of Conservation is committed to a consultation process that will support an exemplary code of ethical conduct and field conservation practice that emphasise social responsibility and cultural sensitivity. The Director of the Centre, who attended the World Heritage celebrations in Tongariro National Park during the weekend of 21-22 November 1998 confirmed this extremely sensitive approach taken by the management in searching for solutions to this issue.

The Bureau commended the New Zealand authorities for the ethically and culturally sensitive manner in which they are addressing this issue. The Bureau requested the Centre and IUCN to submit a status update on the management of the ash build up at the Crater Lake outlet on Mt. Ruapehu to its twenty-third session in 1999.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 1998
22 BUR V.B.38
Tongariro National Park (New Zealand)

IUCN informed the Bureau that the Department of Conservation in New Zealand has recently submitted a progress report on a number of management issues at Tongariro National Park, inscribed on the World Heritage List under both natural and cultural criteria. The report was distributed to the Bureau.

IUCN reported that Mount Ruapehu had erupted in 1995 and 1996 draining the volcano’s crater lake and creating a build-up of ash that blocked the lake’s outlet. IUCN noted that the best available scientific opinion is that, when the crater lake refills, probably within the next few years, and if nature is left to take its course, a rapid collapse of the ash dam could occur followed by a major lahar. The Park’s managers are faced with the dilemma of either letting nature take its course and putting both human life and some natural values at risk or taking action to open up the outlet. The option currently being considered by the authorities is to excavate a trench through the ash at the crater outlet, an action that, on IUCN’s preliminary assessment should not significantly affect the natural values for which the site is inscribed. However, IUCN indicated that any interference with the summit area has implications in terms of Tongariro’s inclusion on the List as an associative cultural landscape because of the spiritual, traditional and cultural values to the Maori people, especially those who gifted the sacred volcanic peaks as a National Park in 1887. Consultation is proceeding with the two Maori tribes involved and with the Tongariro/Taupo Conservation Board on which Maori serve. One tribe has indicated its opposition to any interference with the summit whilst the other tribe has reserved its position. An Environmental Impact Assessment is awaited. ICOMOS commented on the report provided by IUCN by stating that the matter was of great concern.

The Bureau took note of the report and commended the State Party for its recognition of the cultural and natural World Heritage values of Tongariro National Park. The Bureau requested that the New Zealand authorities keep the Centre informed about the outcome of decisions concerning the management of the ash build-up at the crater outlet of Mount Ruapehu at Tongariro National Park so that the Centre in association with the Advisory Bodies can report back to the Committee and its Bureau.

22 COM VII.30
Reports on the State of Conservation of Mixed Properties Noted by the Committee

VII.30 The Committee noted the decisions of the twenty-second extraordinary session of the Bureau as reflected in the Report of the Bureau session (Working Document WHC-98/CONF.203/5) and included in Annex IV on the following properties:

Tasmanian Wilderness (Australia)

Mount Taishan (China, Peoples Republic of)

Mount Huangshan (China, People's Republic of)

Ohrid Region with its Cultural and Historical Aspect and its Natural Environment (Macedonia, Former Yugoslav Republic of)

Cliff of Bandiagara (Land of the Dogons) (Mali)

Tongariro National Park (New Zealand).

No draft Decision

Report year: 1998
New Zealand
Date of Inscription: 1990
Category: Mixed
Criteria: (vi)(vii)(viii)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 22COM (1998)
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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