In this occasional series, David Barnes attempts to unravel and demystify the different types of conservation land.  

Historic Reserves are probably the ones least in need of demystifying. As the name suggests, they’re all about preserving places, objects and natural features that era of historic importance.  While many feature 19th century Pakeha history, there are some that reflect Maori history and some that straddle both cultures. Maungauika/North Head, overlooking the entrance to Waitemata Harbour, is an example of the latter, having been used for military or defence purposes for centuries – initially as an important pa site, then for gun batteries to defend New Zealand from potential Russian, German and Japanese invaders.  Macetown Historic Reserve, in the hills behind Arrowtown and on Te Araroa, is one of many gold mining sites classified this way, while Weka Pass Historic Reserve in North Canterbury is a good example of a Maori rock art site.

National Reserves can be seen as an upgrade of status and are sometimes described as a step below a national park. Significantly, national reserve status can’t be undone except by an Act of Parliament. (Similarly, land can only be removed from a national park by an Act of Parliament). There are only a handful of national reserves. Two are National Historic Reserves – J.M. Barker (Hapupu) National Historic Reserve protects Moriori rakau momori (dendroglyphs or tree carvings) on Chatham Island and the Cook Landing Site National Historic Reserve commemorates the first landing place of James Cook in New Zealand in 1769.  The subantarctic islands are all National Nature Reserves. The only other national reserve that I’m aware of, at Lewis Pass, is only described as a National Reserve, but my guess is that it is technically a National Scenic Reserve.

Next time: Nature Reserves and Scientific Reserves

David Barnes is a long serving member of the FMC executive. He is FMC’s nominee to the NZ Conservation Authority, the public representative board which provides advice to DOC and the Minister of Conservation.