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The Case for Community-Led Geoheritage and Geoconservation Ventures in Māngere, South Auckland, and Central Otago, New Zealand

Abstract

Geoheritage is now a globally recognized natural conservation strategy built on a research and science-based framework. We suggest that to date in New Zealand, mainstream approaches to conservation, protection, and tourism have poorly served our unique geoheritage landscapes and features. The two locations presented as cases in this paper represent geoheritage and cultural values unique to New Zealand due to its dynamic geological history and cultural history represented in the archaeological record. In this paper, we demonstrate the potential for community-led development utilizing internationally recognized best practices. This in turn will provide a foundation for low-impact and sustainable tourism, education, and training opportunities of benefit to local, regional, and national communities. New Zealand has recently joined the global geoheritage trend through the UNESCO Global Geoparks Programme, with the first application for geopark designation in this country currently under review. In this paper, we define geoheritage and associated concepts and demonstrate their potential role in tourism development and research, based on international best-practice methodologies and frameworks. Here, we investigate current issues relating to geoheritage and geotourism in New Zealand. We discuss a current lack of coherent protective legislation relating to geoheritage features and landscapes, demonstrated by the conflict between development and protection being played out at four geologically significant sites at two locations in New Zealand. Geotourism potential of the Ōtuataua Stonefields Historic Reserve in South Auckland has been the subject of research, with guided tours undertaken on an ad hoc basis. A community group is currently campaigning against a proposed housing development adjacent to the Historic Reserve and facilitating research and community engagement with the cultural and geological history of the area. We present the nearby Māngere Mountain Education Centre as a model on which to base further geoheritage development within the area. At the centre, low-impact non-invasive methods and technologies are used, thereby supporting and facilitating sustainable education and tourism ventures in collaboration with the local community and tangata whenua (indigenous people of the land). In the South Island of New Zealand, investigations over the last decade have revealed Foulden Maar as one of the most significant palaeogeographical and palaeoecological sites in the Southern Hemisphere. The maar in Central Otago is the preserved remnant of a crater lake formed by explosive phreatomagmatic volcanic eruptions about 23 million years ago. Diatomite deposits accumulated in the maar crater contain a rich and significant fossil record of the Miocene in New Zealand and the wider Southern Hemisphere. We use recent developments in the case of Foulden Maar to highlight the lack of a national policy or legislation relating specifically to significant fossil or geoheritage sites on private land. The nearby Vanished-World Fossil Museum is a highly successful community-based venture highlighting the geoheritage of the area in an accessible and engaging manner, built on 17 years of largely voluntary contributions in collaboration with the University of Otago.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to acknowledge founding members of the Protect Ihumātao Campaign, and residents of Ihumātao papakāinga, whom steadfastly continue their 5-year campaign to protect the Ihumātao Peninsula. Thanks to Marisa Maclachlan and Leilani Raukura Tawha of Māngere Mountain Education Centre. Assistance with fieldwork in South Auckland by Peter Crossley and Farrell Cleary is gratefully acknowledged. BN and KN involvement in the research was funded through Massey University and GNS-DEVORA. Valuable comments from Benjamin van Wyk de Vries, an anonymous reviewer, and Handling Editor, Kevin Page, are greatly appreciated. Finally, we would like to acknowledge our partners in life for many years support.

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Correspondence to Károly Németh.

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Gravis, I., Németh, K., Twemlow, C. et al. The Case for Community-Led Geoheritage and Geoconservation Ventures in Māngere, South Auckland, and Central Otago, New Zealand. Geoheritage 12, 19 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12371-020-00449-4

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Keywords

  • Geoheritage
  • Geoconservation
  • Community
  • Geodiversity
  • Indigenous people
  • Local community
  • Volcanic field