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Government's Opposition To Whaling Undermined

Government's Opposition To Whaling Undermined Even Further

The Green Party today said it was totally unacceptable for a government department to be making a financial contribution to the World Council of Whalers meeting in Nelson this November.

Documents obtained by the Green Party show that Te Puni Kokiri (TPK) have offered $5,000 to convene a workshop on the cultural heritage of whale bone taonga in conjunction with the World Council of Whalers General Assembly.

Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said while the Government should not prevent the private meeting from going ahead, it should take every possible opportunity to distance itself from the meeting.

"What we have here is a government department offering to fund their own direct involvement in a meeting held by a pro-whaling group," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"Just one week after our Government exempted a Japanese company involved in whaling from our laws on foreign ownership of fishing quota, this country's vocal opposition to whaling is suffering a credibility crisis."

Ms Fitzsimons said the Green Party fully supported the customary rights of Maori to access and use whale bone from beached whales, as Maori have always done, but noted this meeting was held by those who favoured the hunting and killing of whales. Maori have never been involved in hunting whales, she said.

"It's not as though this meeting will be a debate on the merits or otherwise of whaling, with both sides represented. There will be nobody at this meeting speaking for the whales," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"If this Government has any intention of matching its words on whaling with action then it must instruct Te Puni Kokiri to withdraw from any involvement with this meeting," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"The Green Party is sure the public of New Zealand would be as horrified as we are to learn that this Government - with taxpayers money - is planning on being represented at an international meeting of people and nations who advocate the killing of whales.

"While we cannot and should not prevent this meeting from occurring, the Green Party call on the Government to officially distance itself from this conference in any capacity," said Ms Fitzsimons.

Jeanette Fitzsimons MP: 07 868 6642 (home), 025 586 068 Jonathan Hill (press secretary): 04 470 6719, 021 440 090


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