Tawharanui Takahe Release
Today we have all been welcomed here by Mana Whenua for the land mark release of 10 takahe; New Zealand’s rarest birds, with the support of the mana whenua of Te Waka Pounamu. I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute and to sincerely acknowledge the commitment, courage, patience, aroha and leadership made towards achieving this momentous event here in the Tawharanui Open Sanctuary.
Nga mihi rangatira, ki a koutou katoa
We together acknowledge and celebrate the spiritual, cultural and ancestral connections of Ngāti Manuhuri to this place and their continued kaitiakitanga over Tāwharanui. This peninsula is beautiful and it is not difficult to understand why it means so much to the people of this land.
We would like to acknowledge the important relationship that Te Papa Atawhai (DOC) share with the mana whenua, Ngaitahau. And in turn, highlight the importance of the relationships that Auckland Council has with 19 Mana Whenua Iwi groups.
I also would like to pay tribute and to acknowledge the foresight of those who came before us who had the imagination and vision to acquire and develop the regional parks network of which Tawharanui is a part. When reflecting on the development of an open sanctuary, with park bordered by a marine reserve, it is imperative that we make mention of the late Jim Holdaway who in his role’s at both ACA and ARC encouraged the purchase of coastal farms including Tawharanui in 1973 and also instigated the establishment of the Tawharanui Marine Park.
I make special mention of the Tawharanui Open Sanctuary Society. TOSSI has worked tirelessly, for more than a decade, on making this place a safe haven for native species. We thank them for their fundraising efforts for the takahe project, for the hours of volunteer time here on the park and, in advance for the continued work they will do to make sure these new residents are looked after.
I pay tribute to the dedication of staff at Auckland Council for whom working in Parks is more than just about financial rewards but a passion. Many staff also work as volunteers in their own time. For staff operating in this constrained budgetary environment there are many pressures with Parks facing a 40% cut over the next 10 years. Budgetary cuts will mean no more land purchase for regional parks. I’m absolutely determined that we are going to resolve this and it is one of my key priorities going into the Long Term Plan.
The Tawharanui Open Sanctuary and the release of the takahe is a marvellous example of collaboration between council, the community, iwi, the Department of Conservation and the commercial sector.
This event here today is an historical occasion that will benefit our future, our future generations, Auckland and all of New Zealand. Many years ago in my life time we believed takahe to be instinct. Their recovery acts as a reminder to us and gives us hope that it is possible to turn things around. As we release these special native birds into the sanctuary today we wish for them to thrive and prosper. I personally believe that what is required for us moving forward, is to create an awareness of the importance of these parks, of issues of biosecurity and pest eradication, encouraging New Zealanders to take pride and share in the responsibility of our natural environment. The legacy of those early dreamers should inspire and encourage us to strive for our dreams and hold fast to our vision of a future New Zealand.