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Te Wahipounamu – South West New Zealand

New Zealand
Factors affecting the property in 1994*
  • Forestry /wood production
  • Livestock farming / grazing of domesticated animals
  • Major linear utilities
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Water (extraction)
  • Water infrastructure
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Hydro-electric scheme (issue resolved)
  • Exportation of fresh water project
International Assistance: requests for the property until 1994
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 1994**
Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1994
Report prepared by IUCN
  1. PROPERTY: TE WAHIPOUNAMU (South-west New Zealand)
  2. DATE INSCRIBED AND CRITERIA: 1986. Extension 1990. ii, iii, iv.

There are three issues relating to this site which merit action by the Bureau:

  1. On 27 June, the New Zealand Minister of Justice was reported as saying that "small parcels of conservation of land may be returned to Ngai Tahu and other iwi (Maori tribes) to protect wahi tapu or sacred sites". While the Ngai Tahu iwi was associated in support of the New Zealand nomination, it has also pursued claims to land to the Waitangi Tribunal. This was set up by the New Zealand Government to consider Maori land grievances under the Treaty of Waitangi (1840) by which certain Maori leaders recognised British sovereignty and received various guarantees in relation to their interests. It is understood that the Ngai Tahu claims may include some land in the World Heritage site.While it will be noted that Ngai Tahu supported the nomination and while the statement by the Minister refers to only small parcels of land sacred to Ngai Tahu, IUCN considers it would be helpful for the Bureau to invite the New Zealand Government to report on the any implication of the Ngai Tahu Treaty claims for the World Heritage site and to seek an assurance that the integrity of the site will not be jeopardised by any settlement of claims which might affect land within the World Heritage site.
  2. It has come to IUCN's attention that continued cattle grazing is prejudicing natural values in parts of Mount Aspiring National Park including the Siberia area, the Wilkin Valley, Cattle Flat and Dredge Flat within the World Heritage site. New Zealand National Parks Policy is that cattle grazing in parks should be phased out and concern has been expressed that grazing continues and is causing damage to natural vegetation and preventing regeneration of forest edges. It is understood that the Department of Conservation as the management agency is aiming to implement the National Parks Policy. IUCN believes it would be helpful to strengthen the Department's resolve to do this as soon as possible if the Bureau drew to the State Party' attention concern at continued cattle grazing and invited them to report on proposals to end the grazing in the interests of maintaining the integrity of the site.
  3. When Fiordland National Park was listed as a World Heritage site in 1986, IUCN's evaluation suggested that consideration be given to the inclusion in the site of the Waitutu forest along the park's southern boundary. When Fiordland National Park was incorporated into the larger Te Wahipounamu site in 1990, part of the Waitutu forest in Government ownership was included. However, the coastal section of Waitutu forest which is in Maori ownership remained outside the site. It is a cause of concern among conservation interests in New Zealand that the owners of the coastal forest recently entered into a contract for logging to take place. This was seen as threatening the significant natural values on the Maori land and prejudicing the integrity of the adjoining Waitutu forest land within the World Heritage site.
A decision under the Resource Management Act on the application to log the Maori land is still awaited but, in the meantime, the New Zealand Government has entered into negotiations with the Maori owners in an endeavour to save the coastal forest from logging.

Becaupe of the key location of the Maori land on the coastal frontage of the World Heritage site and because of the land's potential for management compatibility with the site, IUCN recommends that the Bureau encourage the State Party to pursue its efforts to negotiate to seek an agreement which would maintain the integrity of the Waitutu forest land which adjoins the World Heritage site while recognising the interests of the owners of the land.

The Bureau is asked to send a letter to the New Zealand authorities with the actions suggested on
each of the above issues.
Decisions adopted by the Committee in 1994
SOC: Te Wahipounamu (New Zealand)

Te Wahipounamu (New Zealand)

In July 1994 the Bureau was advised of threats to the integrity of this site arising from cattle grazing in some parts of the Park and the impact of potential logging operations in Maori-owned coastal forests immediately adjacent to the Park. As requested by the Bureau, the New Zealand authorities have submitted a report outlining measures being implemented for mitigating these threats. IUCN has expressed satisfaction with these measures and no further action is required at the present time.

Te Wahipounamu (New Zealand)

The Bureau took note of the report by IUCN on the following issues: (a) legal matters, in particular land claims and sacred sites of the Maori people; (b) continued cattle grazing which has an impact on the natural World Heritage values and should be phased out, and (c) that the 1986 IUCN recommendation to include the site of the coastal forest (Waitutu forest) in the World Heritage area, was not taken up. Plans have been made by the Maori owners to sell the land for logging operations.

The Bureau requested the Centre to send a letter to the New Zealand authorities transmitting the above concerns.

Report year: 1994
New Zealand
Date of Inscription: 1990
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(viii)(ix)(x)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 18COM (1994)

* : 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.