On the 7th May
2005 over 300 people joined locals to celebrate the purchase and opening of
Kaikoura Island as a Scenic Reserve. Rough seas prevented the Fullers ferry
from berthing at the island so the ceremony was relocated to The Port
FitzRoy Boat Club on neighbouring Great Barrier Island after a
circumnavigation of Kaikoura Island.
Five years after the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act was passed, the
Government had finally contributed almost $8 million of the $10.5 million
price of Kaikoura and was now investing $2 million for conservation work on
the seven Gulf islands. The funds spread over four years will go towards
pest eradication, track development, and signage on Kaikoura, Waiheke, Motuihe, Motutapu, Rangitoto, Rakitu and Great Barrier islands. The massive
planting programme required on Tiritiri Matangi is not necessary on Kaikoura
Island because of the natural regeneration of existing native bush.
Known as Project Hauraki, with the funding spread of four years, Prime Minister
Helen Clark and Conservation Minister Chris Carter spoke of how the project was
designed to raise the profile of the Hauraki Gulf as a visitor destination.
Community Trusts and numerous volunteers were acknowledged and it was
intended that Project Hauraki would complement their work in island
it Came About
In May 2004 Kaikoura Island came into public ownership after a lengthy campaign
which began when the island was for sale at $2m in 1995. At that time
a group called "Save our Islands Trust" attempted to have the island brought
into public ownership. However, the Department of Conservation,
Auckland Regional Council and Auckland City were not interested.
During the summer of 2002-2003 the island went back on the market for $10m
and the Native Forest Restoration Trust announced it's intention to begin
Again the Department of Conservation
wasn't interested saying "Kaikoura Island doesn't have the conservation value
to justify its price". Initially Conservation Minister Chris Carter
said he did not propose to purchase the island.
At the same time there was public
debate about the suitability of plans for a $10m glass building in memory of
Sir Peter Blake. This debate prompted Brian Rudman, Herald reporter to
make the suggestion, in his column, that Kaikoura Island would be a more
fitting memorial. "Blake's dream was to save endangered parts of the
planet for future generations and to educate the youth of the world about
the fragility of the eco-system. Where better to start than at home on
Kaikoura Island?" he asked.
The Herald was swamped by support of
the purchase of Kaikoura Island as a memorial to Sir Peter Blake. The
idea had the backing of Christ Carter, Conservation Minister, former Team NZ
Director and Blake mentor Sir Tom Clark and former world champion sailor
Tony Bouzaid. Sir Tom said it was a "wonderful idea, especially if it
acquired a camp where people could learn to sail and the island was
conserved as creatively as Tiritiri Matangi".
A TV One Colmar Brunton poll on the
16th of June 2003 revealed 72% support from New Zealanders to buy Kaikoura Island
and make it an environmental reserve.
In their editorial of 23rd June 2003
Jim Holdaway and Ted Lees urged those responsible for the stewardship of the
Hauraki Gulf to hold true to the early vision of the people of Auckland
which was to acquire and protect as many as possible of the 60 special
islands within its waters. The goal, they said, was always for the
Hauraki Gulf Park to be enlarged and enriched.
Also on the 23rd June 2003, in
Bernard Orsman's Herald column, it was reported that NZ's largest
conservation group Forest and Bird supported the purchase of Kaikoura
Island, calling for greater recognition of the Barrier islands in the Gulf
for threatened plants and animals.
In a presentation to the Council by
the Native Forest Restoration Trust spokesman Geoff Davidson said "it is the
last chance to buy Kaikoura before it is sold and subdivided. It is a
'reality waiting to happen' with cabin facilities already in place for an
outward bound type environmental education experience".
In August 2003 Auckland Mayors were
prodded into action to consider how councils could contribute to the
purchase of Kaikoura Island. The Nature Heritage Fund, an independently run
fund set up by the Department of Conservation is confirmed to contribute $1
million. Mayor Sir Barry Curtis is quoted in a Herald column by Anne
Beston as saying "I happen to believe the islands of the Gulf should be held
in public ownership for the benefit of future generations". The Native
Forest Restoration Trust applied to a number of Charitable Trusts and two
corporates had expressed interest in helping improve the island's
accommodation for children's camp type activities.
In October of 2003 Greg McKeown, an
Auckland City Councillor, wrote "While Kaikoura as a project stands on its
own, there are nevertheless good links with Sir Peter's life. It lies off
the coast of Great Barrier Island, which was described by Sir Peter as
probably his favourite island, and which captures the on-the-edge feeling
that characterised so much of what the great sailor and environmentalist
New Zealand is a world centre of seabird diversity, and Kaikoura would
provide an opportunity to establish new colonies for threatened species, as
well as becoming a breeding sanctuary for many natives. Islands
provide an advantage for breeding programmes and pest control. Furthermore,
a programme on Kaikoura would provide an incentive to eradicate pests on
Great Barrier, where the Department of Conservation has large holdings.
The argument that Kaikoura is too far away is nonsense. Many school trips
head off to National Park, and some even go overseas. We can make Great
Barrier and Kaikoura more accessible to more New Zealanders and there's
enough work to be done to make the project relevant for decades. Great
Barrier Island and Kaikoura offer a remote wilderness and island experience
quite different from the
inner Hauraki Gulf islands. The alternative of letting island assets such as
Kaikoura fall into international ownership and become the private
playgrounds of a few wealthy individuals should have no carry with the
Government and regional and local councils".
In his Herald column on 7th May 2004 Brian Rudman
announced that "the Government had stepped in to save a Hauraki Gulf jewel
from falling into foreign hands by buying Kaikoura Island for $10.5
million". The Government will contribute about half the cost
through the Nature Heritage Fund's 'Public Wildlands Programme'. The
ASB Trusts will contribute at least $2 million, Auckland Regional Council
$250,000 and a further $250,000 from the region's city and district