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Discussion Paper On Conservation Land Changes Next Month

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Gerry Brownlee
Gerry Brownlee

Wellington, Feb 23 NZPA - Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee today did not rule out changes to Kahurangi National Park to allow mining.

Kahurangi, at the northwest corner of the South Island, is New Zealand's second largest national park with areas of untracked wilderness, rivers, high plateaux, alpine herbfields, and coastal forests.

Mr Brownlee last year controversially started a stocktake of valuable minerals in Conservation land protected under schedule four of the Crown Minerals Act.

In his opening statement to Parliament this month, Prime Minister John Key said a discussion paper had been done and would recommend some land be removed from the schedule and other areas be added.

He expected "significant changes" to go ahead.

Labour's Charles Chauvel asked Mr Brownlee to provide reassurance that Kahurangi National Park would not be affected.

"Is he...able to rule out boundary changes for the Kahurangi National Park or alterations to schedule four that would allow easier access to mining in the park?"

Mr Brownlee said the public would get to express their views on proposals when the discussion document was released early in March.

The minister said that under the Labour Government 82 mines had operated on conservation land, and party leader Phil Goff had said a balance was needed between conservation and mining and less sensitive areas should be available.

Mr Chauvel also questioned whether cabinet minister Murray McCully had been involved in discussions about mining, Mr Brownlee said he had not.

A Labour website has highlighted the fact that Mr McCully owned shares in a company with mining interests this morning.

Mr McCully said he owned 184 shares worth $31.63 in a company called Widespread Portfolios. He had got rid of most shares but had not been able to sell the remainder because they were not in a marketable parcel. He declared the interest and had no involvement in the mining issue as confirmed by the Cabinet secretary.

Mr McCully said he would give the shares away but had not done so before because "it hasn't been top of my mind".

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