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Green Party Challenges Labour Into Saving Kiwi

Sept 15, 1999

Green Party challenges Labour: let's save the kiwi

Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons today called on Labour Leader Helen Clark to join her in pledging to save the kiwi from extinction in the wild.

"The Forest and Bird Protection Society is asking for $10 million a year to fund predator-free zones to stop the alarming death rate of our national symbol," Ms Fitzsimons said today. "The Government has declined. Conservation Minister Nick Smith is twiddling his fingers while he waits for results from new research. That will take at least five years and kiwi in Northland are declining by 18 percent a year.

"By the time the research is done there will be few kiwi to protect. We need an intensive trapping and poisoning programme for stoats in key areas right away while we hope for better long term methods to emerge.

"We now need to hear from Labour. Will they join us in protecting our national icon in next year's budget?"

Predator-free areas or "mainland islands" were wanted by Conservation Department staff not only to protect the kiwi but also other highly endangered species such as kaka, kokako and kakariki, Ms Fitzsimons said.

"What Forest and Bird is asking for is little more than restoration of the conservation budget after serious pruning by National," Ms Fitzsimons said. "For example there was a cut in funding for the Conservation Department from $179.8 million in last year's budget to $174.1 million this year.

"The Government's own biodiversity strategy estimates that additional funding of $36 - $47 million per annum is required to halt the decline in our variety of plants and wildlife.

"That is the bare minimum required to stop species becoming extinct and meet our international obligations."

The Green Party has already congratulated Labour for not proceeding with Timberlands' beech scheme.

"This is step one: stop the destruction of kiwi habitat," Ms Fitzsimons said. "Step two is to control the animals which are killing a kiwi every two hours."

ENDS

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