Tuesday, 15 May 2007 15:30

New name for SA's first World Heritage Site

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Ministry of Environmental Affairs and Tourism - For immediate release

STATEMENT BY THE OFFICE OF MARTHINUS VAN SCHALKWYK, MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS AND TOURISM, ON SUNDAY 13 MAY 2007

New name for SA's first World Heritage Site...

South Africa's first World Heritage Site, the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, has a new name that better reflects its unique identity and sense of place.

After an extensive consultation process, the name has been approved by the National Cabinet and was gazetted on Friday 11th May 2007 in terms of the World Heritage Convention Act and will be effective from the 1st of November 2007.

Minister Van Schalkwyk said "We are delighted to have a new name that will take the Park into the future. The new name is iSimangaliso Wetland Park. This will be integrated with the launch later this year of our new branding linked to specific marketing, advertising and public relations activities."

The Minister initiated public discussion at Indaba 2005 to find a new name. This was followed by advertisements in the local, provincial and national media requesting proposed names for the Wetland Park and advertised public meetings which were held at Mtubatuba, Mbazwana and Durban. 10 000 briefing documents were widely circulated amongst the tourism trade, local communities, Park user groups and members of the public. There was also wide coverage on radio and in newspapers. In addition, a series of pre-consultation meetings were held with land claimants, traditional councils and local municipalities. Input was also requested from historians and linguists. Over 60 proposed names were received.

The proposed names were considered by the Board of the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park Authority. In accordance with the World Heritage Convention Act, the matter was then referred to the Minister who, after consultation with the KZN MEC for Local Government, Housing and Traditional Affairs, and MEC for Agriculture and Environment, referred it to National Cabinet for final decision.

The Minister said "We believed the 220 000 hectare Wetland Park had outgrown the name of St Lucia, linked to the town and lake of the same name. The consolidated boundaries of the park now include a third of the length of the KwaZulu-Natal coastline, and destinations such as Kosi Bay, Lake Sibaya, Sodwana Bay, uMkhuze Game Reserve, False Bay, Fannies Island, Charters Creek, Lake St Lucia, Cape Vidal and Mapelane. In addition, internationally, the island of St Lucia in the Caribbean, with its own newly–listed World Heritage Site, has a very strong market presence, which dilutes the brand value of our St Lucia Wetland Park.

"In the broad consultations throughout the past two years it was clear that there was overwhelming support to change the name. It was widely accepted that the description of Wetland Park be retained and be linked with a descriptive indigenous word. The word iSimangaliso has rich historical context. Ujeqe was King Shaka's insila (aide who keeps all the King's secrets and gets buried with the King when the King dies). He fled after uShaka's death to avoid the customary burial with his master. He wandered into Thongaland, present-day Maputaland, and came back, saying: I saw wonders and miracles in the flat land and lakes of Thonga. From that follows an isiZulu saying that if you have seen miracles, you have seen what uJeqe saw: Ubone isimanga esabonwa uJeqe kwelama Thonga." Ujeqe might just have been one of the first tourists to visit what is now the iSimangaliso Wetland Park."

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