Green influence already affecting Govt. policies
Green influence already affecting Govt. policies: major kiwi reserve announcement expected in Coromandel
The Green Party election campaign is influencing government policies, with a major announcement expected soon of a new reserve in Coromandel to protect kiwi and other endangered species.
"I understand a fenced-off predator-free zone or `mainland island' is planned for the Moehau area near the tip of Coromandel Peninsula, with the Government fast-tracking its designation as such," Ms Fitzsimons said. "I commend the National Party unreservedly for setting up such an area, as it is entirely justified on scientific grounds."
Moehau was one of the more pristine areas of the Coromandel - unlike most of the peninsula it still contained some large kauri trees and a remnant kiwi population, she said.
"However introduced predators are a big problem. The Coromandel kiwi population is becoming more and more geriatric with almost no successful breeding in recent years because of stoat predation. The 1998-99 breeding season was disastrous in Moehau and other Coromandel forests, with researchers worried that few if any chicks would survive in the wild.
"The small, privately-funded Kuaotunu Kiwi Sanctuary on the Coromandel's east coast, which has continued to successfully hatch and raise several chicks, has been the only bright spot," she said.
Ms Fitzsimons said that because action over rare birds such as the kiwi was so crucial and urgent, she was pleased the Green Party was clearly nudging the Government in a more environmentally-aware direction.
"This kind of influence is likely to continue with Green MPs in Parliament, no matter which party dominates the Government," she said.
The Green Party has long called for support for such predator-free "mainland islands" or "kiwi zones" around New Zealand, including in the Coromandel.
"The need to set up these fenced reserves to save the kiwi and other endangered species was a key part of our conservation policy released earlier this month," Ms Fitzsimons said. "Also, in June this year I issued a statement about the Coromandel kiwi, headed New Zealand Icon In Danger in Coromandel, saying `Kiwi are dying out in Coromandel forests and urgent government action is needed to save them'.
"I'm glad National is now serious about taking such action."