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On entering what he called West Bay, in January the 21st 1770, Captain Cook “met with an excellent harbour but saw no inhabitants or cultivated land”.  He was clearly taken with the Inlet as he revisited several times and prepared some very detailed maps.  He recorded that “the land is so closely cover’d with Wood that we could not penetrate into the country.”  As a result of a splendid gift to the Crown by the Howdens, who had built Furneaux Lodge, one valley of that original and unlogged coastal forest still remains.  The eminent New Zealand ecologist Geoff Park regarded it as the finest remnant of lowland forest in the region.  Howdens’ Bush has national significance in terms of its ecological value, as an area of lowland podocarp/broadleaved forest.  On its higher slopes ancient beech and rata trees still survive.  This bush is not noticeably different in appearance from when Cook visited and some of its trees were already mature, when the Magna Carta was signed in 1215.  Cook and Banks recorded the bird and marine life in the area as prolific.  Because it is the first area in New Zealand to have been extensively examined and recorded, by Bank’s scientists, this bush and its surroundings present a unique opportunity for our vision.  To assist in the conservation of this unique treasure of historical and biological value and to support the restoration of the bush and biodiversity that has been lost to the whole of the Inlet and the surrounding areas.

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