18 Aug 2014

DoC praised for work on preserving sacred trees

9:10 am on 18 August 2014

A Moriori leader is praising the Department of Conservation for helping protect their sacred carved Kopi trees.

The ancient trees in the Hapupu Reserve on the Chatham Islands have been prone to natural disease and vandalism.

The Hapupu Reserve on the Chatham Islands.

The Hapupu Reserve on the Chatham Islands. Photo: HOKOTEHI MORIORI TRUST

The Hokotehi Moriori Trust and DoC have been working together to preserve the last of the trees, which are considered a taonga.

The trust's general manager, Maui Solomon, said the partnership with DoC has proven very beneficial and said he had been told by the department that saving the Kopi trees was a prime concern.

He thanked DoC for its help and including Moriori as the traditional caretakers, particularly because the Hapupu Reserve is, by law, under the department's management.

Mr Solomon said the Chathams has a new DoC regional services manager on the island, Connie Norgate, who has hit the ground running and is forging positive relationships with tangata whenua.

Maui Solomon said the Department of Conservation's regional director Damien Coutts, who is based in Wellington, has said the preservation of the carved Moriori trees, are a priority.