Easing protections at Te Urewera would put communities at risk, Tūhoe says
21 April 2020
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Allowing hunting and other recreational activities in Te Urewera would put small communities at risk, a Tūhoe chairman has said.
Te Urewera Board chair Tāmati Kruger said Tūhoe reviewed its responsibilities as voice of the land, and confirmed that protections currently in place within Te Urewera at Alert Level 4 would remain under Level 3.
That meant all Te Urewera huts, campgrounds, boat ramps, walks (including the Waikaremoana Great Walk) and freedom camping areas would remain closed.
Hunting and fishing would also not be permitted in Te Urewera while the country is in level three or four.
"We know that many keen hunters want to head in to Te Urewera, but we are asking them for patience," Kruger said.
"Tūhoe communities are trying to safeguard everyone from the risk of transmission of the virus. We feel as if transmission in our isolated bush communities would leave us defenceless."
"We want to do all that we can to reduce risks for everyone in Te Urewera. And if waiting a few more weeks is it – then that is the course of action we want to take."
Tūhoe and Te Urewera Board met remotely this week to consider the risks to local communities, the practical issues of staff remaining grounded, the long distances to reach Te Urewera for day activities along with health and safety needs of manuhiri.
With 2,127km2 of mountain range, Kruger said Te Urewera was perhaps the only significant wilderness or bush area in New Zealand with living communities within it.
Based on previous hunting numbers in Te Urewera during the roar season, an influx of hunters could pose a major risk to the safety of local residents and the hunters themselves.
"Tūhoe kaimahi will be checking tracks, huts and campsites to ensure these measures for public safety are observed," Kruger said.
"As kaitiaki of Te Urewera we are responsible for keeping people safe and ensuring this closure is respected. We look forward to welcoming back manuhiri, trampers, boaties and hunters when this crisis has passed, so Te Urewera can be enjoyed by all."