FMC welcomes the recent High Court judgment supporting FMC’s and Forest & Bird’s stance against the Department of Conservation’s and the New Zealand Conservation Authority’s positions on the derogation of the Paparoa National Park Management Plan from the West Coast Conservation Management Strategy, which sits above the park plan in the statutory hierarchy.
The Paparoa National Park Management Plan was approved by the Department of Conservation and by the New Zealand Conservation Authority and published in 2017. It allows for recreational aircraft landings within the National Park.
The West Coast CMS however states in clause 126.96.36.199 (Aircraft) that “Aircraft landings for recreational purposes are not permitted in Paparoa National Park”.
In 2019, FMC and Forest & Bird sought a judicial review of the Paparoa National Park Management Plan in the Wellington High Court, claiming that the management plan derogates from the West Coast CMS, and seeking strike-out of the management plan’s provisions allowing recreational landings. The West Coast Te Tai o Poutini Conservation Management Strategy 2010 – 2o2o applies to the West Coast of the South Island, including Paparoa National Park.
The Department of Conservation agreed with the claim about derogation from the CMS, but disagreed with the request to strike out the relevant provisions from the Paparoa National Park Management Plan 2017. The New Zealand Conservation Authority disagreed with the claim about the plan’s derogation from the CMS.
A clear and objective summary of the issues at play in the court proceedings is available on the Department of Conservation website.
The New Zealand High Court in Wellington issued its judgment  NZHC 1194 on 27 May 2021. The High Court found that the Paparoa National Park Management Plan 2017 derogates from the West Coast CMS and ordered all provisions allowing for recreational landings within the National Park to be struck out.
FMC is delighted that the integrity of Aotearoa’s conservation statutory scheme has been upheld, and that Paparoa National Park will remain a rare place of natural quiet.
Photo at top: Fox River, Inland Pack Track, Paparoa National Park. (c) Neil Silverwood