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Te Urewera National Park

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Te Urewera National Park
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Te Urewera National Park is the fourth largest national park in New Zealand, and the largest in the North Island, covering 212,673 hectares.

Te Urewera National Park lies between the Bay of Plenty and Hawke's Bay in the North Island of New Zealand. The nearest towns are Whakatane, Murupara and Wairoa. With the adjoining Raukumura Forest Park, Te Urewera preserves most of the remaining virtually untouched bush left in the North Island. In the southern part of the park lie the legendary Lakes Waikaremoana and the smaller Lake Waikareiti.

The park's remoteness and inaccessiblility has helped protect much of the park's native wildlife. The park is unique in that it contains the full complement of North Island native forest birds apart from Hihi, the stitchbird.

Otamatuna, The Northern Te Urewera Ecosystem Restoration Project, a mainland island where the largest population of Kokako are to be found, was implemented in the northern end of the park in 1996.

There is a well defined network of tracks, including the Waikaremoana Great Walk.

Te Urewera is the home of the Tuhoe people, the park's original Maori inhabitants. Crown ownership of lands within Te Urewera National Park has been disputed by tangata whenua on the basis of the legality of the means by which land was acquired by the Crown. Formal proceedings have been initiated through the Waitangi Tribunal. Tangata whenua still retain land enclaves within the national park.

Due to its geographical isolation and its mountainous nature, Te Urewera was one of the last regions to come under control of the British during colonization in the nineteenth century. Te Kooti, the Maori leader, found refuge among Tuhoe from his pursuers, with whom he formed an alliance.

The Maori prophet, Rua Kenana also influenced development in the region. Around 1906 he set up his own religious group at Maungapohatu encouraging his followers to clear bush, grow grass and raise sheep and cattle. Rua is remembered as the first Maori leader to bring prosperity to the valleys of the Urewera and it is partly due to his power of persuasion in getting Maori owners to sell land to the Crown that this tremendous and unspoiled park will remain for all New Zealanders to enjoy.

(page last updated  6 July 2007)