National | Department of Conservation

High Court stops burning of Te Urewera huts

The High Court has ordered an immediate halt to the burning and destruction of the hut network throughout Te Urewera.

As reported by Stuff, the destruction of the huts started in October but the High Court in Rotorua says Te Urewera board, the trustees of Te Uru Taumatua and their staff and contractors must stop doing so immediately. The court also wants a complete list of the huts that have already been demolished or removed by 5pm today.

The ruling follows an application by Wharenui Clyde Tuna (Tūhoe) who said the move had caused great distress and affected his Tūhoetanga or way of life as a member of the tribe.

The preservation of Te Urewera's historical and cultural heritage, as well as freedom of admission and access, were all omitted from the process according to Tuna, who also made a number of accusations regarding mistakes in the process thus far. Additionally, hapū were not given the chance to speak, he argued.

Te Urewera's hut network is safe - for now.

Peter Geoffrey Shaw, a conservationist and former project manager for Te Urewera Mainland Island, and Ngā Tapuwae o Tāneatua Tramping Club president Peter Donald Askey supported Tuna in his application and expressed concern that, if the huts were demolished, public access to the region would be restricted.

Justice Mark Woolford granted the injunction, stating that a hearing on the problems was necessary, and halted the demolition.

According to the Department of Conservation's website, the 44 backcountry huts in Te Urewera being removed are to be replaced with new purpose-built structures for use by locals and manuhiri.