Waikaremoana staying closed to protect communities and manuhiri
21 April 2020
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Lake Waikaremoana will remain closed to the public during Alert Level 3.
Te Urewera Board chairman Tamati Kruger said the huts, campgrounds, boat ramps, walks (including the Waikaremoana Great Walk) and freedom camping areas will remain closed at Alert Levels 3 and 4. Hunting and fishing would also not be permitted in Te Urewera at those alert levels either.
This was to protect the health and safety of potential manuhiri (visitors) and local communities, he said.
“We know that many keen hunters want to head into Te Urewera, but we are asking them for patience,” said Mr Kruger.
“Tuhoe 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.”
Tuhoe 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 and the health and safety needs of manuhiri. It just didn’t add up, said Mr Kruger.
“Te Urewera is perhaps the only significant wilderness or bush area in New Zealand with living communities within it. Based on historical hunting numbers in Te Urewera during the roar season, which would happen in a compressed timeframe thanks to the lockdown, an influx of hunters could pose a significant risk in terms of transmission of the virus between communities, the safety of local people and the safety of hunters themselves.
“The health and safety of manuhiri and tangata whenua in Te Urewera is of the utmost importance to Te Urewera Board and Tuhoe. We have to play our part, just as all New Zealanders must, to eliminate Covid-19, and to minimise the risk and demand on emergency services in what is a 2127 sq km mountain range that is remote from most parts of the country and emergency services.”
Te Urewera Visitor Centre also remains closed to the public.
Mr Kruger said Tuhoe kaimahi (staff) would be checking tracks, huts and campsites to ensure these measures for public safety were observed.