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Conservation Week 2001 - Te Whenua Ahurei

Conservation Week 2001 To Highlight "Unique New Zealand--Te Whenua Ahurei"

This week is 'Conservation Week', but featured activities will run beyond the standard seven day period.

Conservation Minister Sandra Lee says Department of Conservation supported activities throughout the country will focus on the natural and cultural features that have stemmed from New Zealand's geological isolation from other global land masses.

"DOC is recognising that our isolation has produced plant and animal species found nowhere else in the world apart from New Zealand with a raft of planned activities to celebrate, investigate and explore aspects of this uniqueness under the umbrella title of 'Unique New Zealand--Te Whenua Ahurei'.

"New Zealand's plant and animal life evolved special and unique characteristics because it developed in an environment that was free from browsing and predatory mammals, and isolated by the sea.

"Primeval forest trees and plants that died out in other larger lands continued to flourish here. Some of our birds became flightless and ground-dwelling. They adapted themselves to ecological niches that elsewhere in the world would have been filled by mammals. Even the tuatara survived, the sole remaining member of a reptilian order that disappeared elsewhere about 100-million years ago.

"Our environment remained unmodified for millions of years, and thousands of years after human habitation had altered much of the rest of the world. The threat to our unique biodiversity has been addressed in the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy and by the commitment of unprecedented remedial funding by the government. This year's Budget has allocated a record $226.35m for conservation, an increase of $8.27m from last year.

"Culturally too, New Zealand's heritage has a unique history that began with Polynesian settlers here more than a 1000-years ago, and continued with more recent Pakeha migration during the past 250-years. The separate and combined histories of these cultures weave a unique story that will also be explored, celebrated and debated during this year's Conservation Week."

A small selection of the Conservation Week activities at Parliament and around the regions includes:

Monday 6 August:

11.00am: The LEARNZ web site hosts a "virtual" field trip to Wellington's Matiu/Somes Island (see note below)

12.05pm: Speech--Restoring the Dawn Chorus--New Directions for Conservation, John Ombler, DOC General Manager, Central Region; St Paul's Cathedral, Wellington.

4.30pm: Conservation Minister receives ECO petition on Hector's Dolphins, Front steps of Parliament Buildings, Wellington.

7pm: Joint West Coast Tai Poutini Conservation Board and West Coast Regional Council Environment Awards, Kings Hotel, Greymouth.

Tuesday 7 August:

Department of Conservation launch of "Protecting and Restoring our Natural Heritage--a practical guide". (see note below)

Dominion "Newspapers in Education" feature page: Unique New Zealand--Te Whenua Ahurei. What's so special about New Zealand's islands?

10.00am: Galatea School tree planting on the banks of the Horomanga River (Alex Eagles has details on 0800-368-267).

11.00am: The LEARNZ web site hosts a "virtual" field trip to Campbell Island for a look at DOC's rat eradication programme (see note below).

Wednesday 8 August:

Department of Conservation launch of "Super Sites for Education" resource kits (see note below).

Project Crimson and DOC-supported community planting of blue rata at the northern and southern entrances to Okato township (26km south-west of New Plymouth), weather permitting; contact Lois Leonard at (06)758-0433.

Thursday 9 August:

11.00am: The LEARNZ web site hosts a "virtual" field trip to New Zealand's largest "mainland island", in Canterbury (see note below)

6pm: Speech--DOC's Conservation Week associates' function, Minister of Conservation, Wellington.

Friday 10 August:

Managing native forest fragments--launch by Environment Waikato today of a new fact sheet series outlining the importance of forest fragments, ideas for managing them, case studies and information contacts (phone: 0800-800-401). DOC and Environment Waikato also help Taupo Intermediate students plant trees today on the banks of the Waikato River.

11.00am: The LEARNZ web site hosts a "virtual" field trip to Northland's Trounson Kauri Park (see note below)

12.15pm: Master storyteller Joe Harawira features in a lunchtime recounting of Maori legends on the creation of the earth using words, action and song. DOC Hamilton, 3rd floor, 18 London Street, Hamilton (Jan Simmons 07-838-3363)

4.30pm: Speech--State of the Nation Environment seminar: "Maori Development and Conservation", Minister of Conservation, Lincoln University (near Christchurch).

6pm: Wilding Pine Control volunteer weekend. DOC staff and volunteers remove small wilding pine trees threatening conservation land. Personnel overnight at the historic Naseby Post Office. Contact: Steve Broni, (03)474-6932.

Saturday 11 August:

10am-12 noon: Fish & Game help volunteers pan for trout eggs at the Tarawera outlet, and explain the significance of trout management techniques and policies. (Marie Long takes bookings on 07-357-4469).

Sunday 12 August:

10am: Minister of Conservation visits Motutapu Island in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf, to inspect island restoration work.

Monday 13 August:

3pm: Minister of Conservation announces new appointments to local Conservation Boards.

5.30pm: Speech--Wellington Conservation Week awards, Minister of Conservation, Parliament Buildings, Wellington.

Ms Lee said entry forms would be available from today for the 2001 Young Conservationist awards, for individuals and groups of young people aged between 11 and 17 who are involved in conservation work or research. Entry forms are available from local DOC or Youth Hostel Association offices.

DOC must receive all entries by 2 November 2001 and the winners will be announced in December.

One other highlight of Conservation Week will be virtual field trips for school students, to four different island locations as part of the Island Odyssey theme on the LEARNZ web site, at

Schools will be linked with conservation experts at the following sites:

- (Today) Matiu/Somes Island: The largest island in Wellington Harbour, this island has a unique history and has been home to a variety of groups and activities over the years;

- (Tomorrow--Tuesday) Campbell Island: Below New Zealand in the sub-antarctic waters lies Campbell Island, where a rodent eradication programme has been initiated to rid the island of up to 200,000 rats. This is the biggest such eradication programme in the world.

- (Thursday) Hurunui Mainland Island: New Zealand's largest "mainland island" is hidden away under the mountains in Canterbury. This unique "island" is home to mistletoe, great spotted kiwi and mohua; and

- (Friday) Trounson Kauri Park: A "mainland island" project in Northland where giant kauri trees dominated the landscape. The kauri forest is home to kauri snails, kereru, bats and the North Island brown kiwi;

During Conservation Week four audio-conferences will take place at 11am from each of the four locations at the LEARNZ web site.

Schools and anyone else interested will be able to listen to the audio-conferences by dialling access code 08-3032 followed by 987-654 (at a cost of 72 cents per minute). DOC has also provided resources for schools, at in the form of background information and teaching ideas on the sub-theme of "What makes New Zealand special", viz.

- A unique animal-tuna (eels);

- A unique plant-harakeke (flax);

- Our historic heritage; and

- Conservation heroes, the people who help look after this heritage.

The Bank of New Zealand, which sponsors the Kiwi Recovery Programme is running a special kiwi promotion from all its branches this week, and will be giving away free booklets and fliers. DOC displays at some branches will highlight the plight of the kiwi and what is being done locally and nationally to prevent the extinction of our unique bird. A donation hotline, 0800-SAVE KIWI, is available for people to donate directly to the programme. Information will also be available from the kiwi recovery web site at

DOC's "Protecting and Restoring our Natural Heritage--a practical guide" will be launched tomorrow by DOC's Canterbury conservancy. Over the last 12-years, the Department's nursery at Motukarara has assisted many restoration projects by producing native plants and by providing information. The demand for up to date information on the planning and management of these projects has increased. This guide aims to provide the information that many people are seeking, and was produced from additional conservation awareness funding for green issues in the Budget and a contribution from Landcare Research.

DOC's "Super Sites for Education" resource kits--Some conservancies will be launching these during Conservation Week. These kits feature learning resources for schools based on conservation sites around New Zealand. Resources have also been developed by the Wellington College of Education's Te Kura Maori team for Kura Kaupapa Maori. Featuring the kereru, the kiwi and the kokako, these resources will combine stories, children's activities and teachers' notes. A free workshop will be held for teachers (1) in Napier on Wednesday 8 August, 3.00-5.00pm at the Department of Conservation (59 Marine Parade, Napier). Details from Brett Butland (06) 867-8531; (2) in Gisborne on Thursday 9 August, 3.00-5.00pm at the Department of Conservation (63 Carnarvon Street, Gisborne). Details from Brett Butland (06) 867-8531; (3) in Wellington on Thursday 9 August, 9am-3pm on Matiu/Somes Island. Details from Sally Airey (04) 472-5821.


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