DOC delays review of national parks after talks with iwi

7:53 pm on 4 February 2019

The Department of Conservation (DOC) has delayed its review of two South Island national parks.

Mt Cook/Aoraki National Park.

Mt Cook/Aoraki National Park. Photo:

Public feedback on the Aoraki/Mt Cook and Westland Tai national park draft management plans closed on Monday afternoon before hearings were meant to take place.

However, a Supreme Court decision relating to Ngāi Tai has halted the process.

The Auckland iwi argued DOC didn't properly consider the issues relating to the Treaty of Waitangi when granting concessions for commercial activities.

Last December, the Supreme Court found Ngāi Tai needed to be considered in the decision by asking whether the concession opportunities should be preserved for the economic benefit of Ngāi Tai and whether there was any basis for the preferential grant of concessions to the iwi.

DOC permissions and land planning director Marie Long said DOC decided to pause the process after speaking with Ngāi Tahu last week.

"It is important to understand what the decision means for us and our Treaty Partners before we go any further on the review process for the national park management plans," Ms Long said.

"This provides an opportunity to ensure consistency between the Supreme Court decision and these plans. Any changes deemed necessary will be communicated with Conservation Boards and submitters."

Dogs in national parks, a gondola to view glaciers and changing the number of aircraft landings permitted are among the proposals mooted for the parks.

The plans describe how the parks will be managed while considering the impacts of tourism and climate change.

The decision to pause the process was not expected to affect existing submissions.

"The submissions are still valuable because the viewpoints will be considered as we determine how we manage the parks in the future and what the next steps will be," she said.

Existing National Park Management Plans will continue to be used in the interim.

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