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Bunkle Speech: Saving The Kukupu


Venue: Motatau Marae
Henare Road
Powhiri: 11am

Environmentalists and Maori join forces to save the Kukupa

Tena koutou nga iwi o Te Tai Tokerau.

Kia Ora Tatou Katoa

Thank you for welcoming me here today.

I send the apologies of my ministerial colleague and friend, Hon Sandra Lee, who regrets she is unable to be with you.

We are here to celebrate the launching of a joint initiative.

It is, I am advised, the first bilingual major campaign with a strong conservation theme.

It will highlight the plight of a native bird, the Kukupa or wood pigeon, in decline because of predators and poaching.

The campaign to safeguard this bird is being undertaken by Northland tangata whenua, the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society, and the Department of Conservation.

Together they have produced posters and pamphlets in Maori and English, as well as a portable display.

These will initially be used in Northland but eventually they will be deployed for use throughout New Zealand, as the campaign spreads nationwide.

I note that while the bird is known in Northland as the Kukupa, it is known in some other parts of the country as the Kereru or the Kuku. In the Chathams it is known as the Parea.

It is not widely known that the Kukupa plays an important role in the health and survival of forest ecosystems by being responsible for the dispersal of the large seeds of many native trees.

It is of grave concern that Kukupa numbers have declined by around 50 percent in some parts of Northland's forests during the past 20 years.

At this rate of decline, the birds could disappear from Northland forests within the next 10-15 years.

Past logging practices concentrated on lowland fruiting podocarps, which took away the trees, and possum damage to them left the birds starving or stressed. It had a severe impact on breeding.

It is fitting then that this campaign should be launched at the same time as the Government moves to end the unsustainable logging of crown-managed native forests.

By saving these birds, we are also saving their forest habitats. And by saving the forests, we ensure the survival of the birds.

Action plan activities advocated in the Kukupa campaign resource material include:
growing suitable native food trees for the birds
fencing forest blocks
predator control (and)
active protection by the community.

The resource material will be available free of charge through offices of the Department of Conservation as well as those of Forest and Bird.

I should like to dedicate this Kukupa public awareness campaign to the memory of Forest and Bird's former northern field officer Jacqui Barrington who was responsible for initiating it. She was a good friend of my ministerial colleague Sandra Lee.

Sadly, Ms Barrington died of cancer before she could bring the launch of the project to completion. But a legacy received from Jacqui Barrington's estate has helped to fund the campaign, along with a Lottery Heritage grant to Forest and Bird.

I want to thank Forest and Bird for carrying this project through to the launch stage, and beyond. And I want to thank Ngati Hine, and pay tribute especially to Kevin Prime for his long-standing support for environmental initiatives, particularly related to forest protection through the Nga Whenua Rahui programme.

This latest campaign will compliment other DoC initiatives.

The Department of Conservation already produces a Kukupa survival guide and school education pack, as part of Doc's on going community outreach programme.

DoC is also funding a community educator to speak about the bird at Northland schools, kura kaupapa Maori, kohanga reo and marae.


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