Whirinaki Te Pua-a-Tāne Conservation Park is a publicly accessible conservation park in the North Island of New Zealand. The park is centered on the town of Minginui and part of the eastern boundary flanks Te Urewera. The forest is one of the world’s last prehistoric rainforests.
Te Whati Nui A Toi Canyon
The Department of Conservation is responsible for administering the park jointly with the local iwi, Ngāti Whare. Tramping is a popular recreation in the park and there is a network of tracks and huts that are now used for this purpose.
The unsealed River Road provides access to a carpark and the starting point of many walks. Short walks lead through native bush to Waiatiu Falls, Arohaki Lagoon, Te Whaiti-Nui-A-Toi Canyon, and Whirinaki Falls, respectively. The rain-fed Arohaki Lagoon is often alive with Southern Bell Frogs. Longer tramping tracks connect several huts and two other access roads.
The forests were a focus of protests over logging in the 1970s and 80s. Today, large parts of the park remain covered in native podocarp forest featuring rimu, totara, kahikatea, matai and miro. Some higher parts contain beech forest. The forest supports a wide range of birds, some of which are endangered.
Whirinaki is the location of Nga Hua a Tane, a radical place based research program on rainforests and the ecosystem services they provide to support life on our planet, led by the local school, Te Kura Toitu o Te Whaiti Nui-a-Toi and its community.
In 2010, a co-governance agreement was signed with Ngati Whare as part of a treaty settlement. As part of the settlement, the New Zealand government apologised for past injustices and acknowledged the park was integral to Ngati Whare’s cultural identity and wellbeing. The settlement provided for a joint Ngati Whare and Crown regeneration project, which aimed to regenerate 640ha of exotic pine adjacent to the park back to indigenous podocarp forest, with David Bellamy as patron. The park’s name was changed from Whirinaki Forest Park to Whirinaki Te Pua-a-Tāne Conservation Park. Whirinaki Te Pua-a-Tāne means the abundance of Tāne.