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Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari changes visitor access to enclosure

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari has changed the way visitors access the Southern Enclosure due to ongoing and unresolved issues with a nearby block of iwi-owned land.

The Maunga, as Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari is often known, attracts 15,000 visitors a year to the community inspired sanctuary. It’s home to many of New Zealand’s endangered species, with more being introduced each year, and has the world’s longest pest-proof fence at 47km, enclosing 3,363 hectares.

Visitors to the Maunga cross from the Visitor Centre into the scenic reserve Southern Enclosure through a small block of land called Maungatautari 4G Section IV, which is owned by the Maungatautari 4G4 Block Trust.

Waipa District Council has a lease and easement agreement with the iwi land owners and Sanctuary Mountain staff, volunteers, contractors and visitors all cross this land to access the Southern Enclosure. Each year, Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari staff and volunteers must apply for land owner approval from the 4G4 Trust to cross their land.

Since January this year, the 4G4 Trust declined to approve some 42 key staff members, trustees and volunteers, including the general manager, office staff, and guides. No reason has been given for rejecting key staff; about 40 staff and volunteers do have approval from the Trust.

In March the Trust that governs the iwi-owned land informed Waipa District Council and Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari that from 1 May, the Trust would be checking approvals and preventing access to those not holding approvals. As of today, 7 June 4GIV agents are checking visitors to the Southern Enclosure entrance.

Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari General Manager John Simmons says the governance board for the Maunga has decided to re-route visitors to the Southern Enclosure.

"Nothing changes in terms of the visitor experience to our wonderful Maunga, but we will be prepared to transport people by minivan to the Southern Enclosure for the foreseeable future.

"We do want to enter into dialogue with 4GIV to acknowledge their generosity in allowing Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari and visitors access over their land, and achieve a long-term relationship. We recognise their close connection to their land and deeply respect their whakapapa ties that align them to this special place," Mr Simmons explains.

Mr Simmons says it is sad that Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari has been forced into this position, but the board is determined that this ongoing issue, thought to be caused by internal disputes, doesn’t affect the many visitors to the Mountain.

"This won’t detract from the experience on the mountain in any way, but we do seek understanding from our visitors while we continue to try to resolve this long-standing issue."

"We continue to request that Waipa District Council and the Maungatautari 4G4 Block Trust work with us to find a solution so visitors can properly experience the Mountain by walking from our Visitor Centre into the Southern Enclosure," he says.

"We have wonderful support from all our nearby landowners, many of whom are closely involved with us, but our important work on the mountain is stymied by one group of landowners."

He says Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari has strived for years to resolve issues with the Trust via the Council, but says its board will now have to consider expensive, permanent, alternative solutions to using the 4GIV block, such as an alternative access track. In the meantime, no Maunga staff, volunteers or contractors are using the 4GIV land to access the Southern Enclosure.

About 15,000 visitors a year experience Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari. It was recently announced as the national stronghold for western brown kiwi, which will see up to 500 new kiwi introduced to its reserve over the next five years.

For more information on the Maunga visit: https://www.sanctuarymountain.co.nz/

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