Kaikōura, the South Island coastal town, is seeking World Heritage status from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
Te Korowai o te tai ō Marokura, Kaikōura’s coastal guardian, is planning to apply for this recognition. The area is known for its significant cultural connection with the land and sea over 800 years of settlement, and it is an integral part of Ngāti Kurī hapū and Ngāi Tahu history and cultural identity.
Kaikōura boasts nutrient-rich sea canyons with one of the world’s largest diversities of marine mammals in one place and is also renowned for its endemic bird species and seafood.
World Heritage status would recognize the area’s industry, culture, people, geology, ecology, biology, and astronomy. It could also be a marketing tool for local agricultural products, as it would signify that the produce comes from a World Heritage-listed area.
While the region had strong potential for World Heritage status back in 2006, it wasn’t pursued at the time due to various factors. Since then, efforts have been made to preserve and protect the area’s natural and cultural heritage, and this new application represents the culmination of these efforts.
New Zealand currently has three World Heritage areas: Te Wāhipounamu – South West New Zealand, Tongariro National Park, and the Subantarctic islands of Aotearoa. If Kaikōura is successful in its bid, it would join this prestigious list, further emphasizing New Zealand’s commitment to preserving its unique natural and cultural treasures.