Forest & Bird today welcomed the announcement by the West Coast Tai Poutini Conservation Board of its support for the Mokihinui River and catchment to be added to Kahurangi National Park.
Following Meridian Energy’s announcement in May that it was abandoning plans to build an 85-metre high hydro dam on the Mokihinui River, Forest & Bird called for the river and catchment to be given permanent protection by adding it to the adjacent Kahurangi National Park.
“During our long fight to save the Mokihinui River, we showed the conservation values in this area are too high to be put at risk,” Forest & Bird Top of the South Field Officer Debs Martin said.
“To ensure another developer does not come along and threaten this magnificent area, we must ensure permanent protection by putting it in Kahurangi National Park.”
“We are very pleased that the West Coast Tai Poutini Conservation Board has given its full support for this proposal and we are sure the support for including the Mokihinui in the national park will continue to grow.”
The Mokihinui River is one of New Zealand’s largest and most pristine remaining wild rivers, supporting endangered wildlife including the whio (blue duck) - which only inhabits fast flowing rivers – as well as the South Island long-tailed bat and two unique species of giant land snails. The river itself is home to endangered natives including the longfin eel and the giant and short-jawed kokupu.
The area is also hugely valuable for recreation with a planned new mountain bike trail from Lyell to Mokihinui on the “Old Ghost Road” as well as kayaking, rafting, tramping, hunting and fishing.
“The natural and recreation values of the Mokihinui are too great to jeopardise. Now is the time for it to be protected forever and to save taxpayers and non-profit groups like Forest & Bird from the huge expense of having to prove it all over again in the future,” Debs Martin said.