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The Future of Aroha Island - 27 January 2007

Aroha Island

A Public Meeting about The Future of Aroha Island will be held at The Centre, Kerikeri on Thursday 8th February, 7PM.

The widespread disquiet over plans to lease Aroha Island Ecological Centre near Kerikeri to a commercial operator has prompted the call for a public meeting.

The meeting will address the likelihood that a commercial lease of Aroha, which is being sought by the owners the QE II National Trust, would mean the island's loss as a place open to the public, a kiwi sanctuary and a ecological centre.

Aroha Island is located in an area zoned “conservation” and a wahi tapu is registered over 2 hectares of the 7 hectare land area.

The Kiwi Foundation says the lack of any statement in the lease documents published by the real estate agents that the island must be used for ecological or conservation purposes leaves the door open for the site to be used in ways which could damage the wildlife, severely limit public access, and lead to the loss of the education and ecological facility located on the island.

It is hoped other conservation and community groups as well as individuals interested in Aroha will attend the meeting.

Tim Robinson and Terry Quinlan are organising the public meeting. Tim Robinson, a member of the Kiwi Foundation and resident of Rangitane where Aroha Island is located says: “Aroha's loss will be a huge blow to saving kiwi in this area which has the largest number of wild kiwi living within populated places, not to mention kiwi throughout the Far North”.

“The fate of wild kiwi lies not so much with DoC in Northland, but with private land owners. With such a huge responsibility, it is essential that Aroha remains a centre where ordinary New Zealanders can learn how to save and protect kiwi.”

Terry, a member of the NZ Kiwi Foundation and a neighbour to Aroha says: “More than 5,000 people visit Aroha Island each year either to ask about or for pest control and conservation advice or to camp or walk on the 7 hectare property. By calling a public meeting we hope to draw attention to what is happening and what could happen to Aroha”. He adds “The Kiwi Foundation is currently in the process of preparing a submission for a tender for a lease of the Island. We want members of the public to consider options for how they would like the island to be managed.”

The Foundation would also like to take the opportunity of this public meeting to determine who among the attendees would support the Foundation and how they would be prepared to help the Foundation in the management of Aroha should the Foundation become the successful applicant.

The meeting will be held at The Centre, Kerikeri on February 8th at 7pm. Entry is free.

INVITATION TO THE PUBLIC AND THE MEDIA

The meeting will start at 7pm at The Centre, Kerikeri

To editors - for more information contact Helen Sissons 021 407397 or Tim Robinson 09 401 7104