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Saving kiwi a priority – but Solid Energy a threat

MEDIA RELEASE

17th October 2005

FOR IMMEDIATE USE


Saving kiwi a national priority – but Solid Energy a threat


A recent nationwide survey shows that saving kiwi in the wild is viewed as a national priority by New Zealanders – yet the Government’s own Solid Energy willingly destroys kiwi habitat – and potentially the birds themselves.

In their proposed Happy Valley mine, the state owned coal company Solid Energy would attempt to shift some of the estimated one hundred kiwi who live in the area, open-cast mine the habitat of many endangered species and extract five million tonnes of coal. The Save Happy Valley Christchurch group asks: “If saving kiwi is seen as a national priority what is a state owned enterprise doing risking that in the name of profit?”

Happy Valley, in the Upper Waimangaroa river basin near Westport, is a beautiful, wild and untouched place. “It is home to great spotted kiwi – which are found only in the north-west corner of the South Island, it is ‘wild’ rather than a zoo, it is pristine habitat – and it is an area that remains low of predators!” stated Save Happy Valley Christchurch spokesperson Frances Mountier. “Here is habitat that appears to be without goats, without pigs, with only low populations of deer and possums – and the high rainfall means even stoats don’t do well. The Bank of New Zealand’s survey showed that 89 percent of New Zealanders are concerned that soon kiwi might live only in zoos and sanctuaries. Populations in natural refuges like Happy Valley are so important because they are the ones expected to survive for longest. How then can Solid Energy justify shifting kiwi from a pristine home in Happy Valley? Worse yet, 10 kiwi may die in the process.”

Solid Energy are currently considering whether to extend their existing Stockton mine such that it would destroy the last of the habitat of the native land snail Powelliphanta “augustus.” This clinical deliberation over whether or not to willingly cause extinction shows that the fate of New Zealand’s endangered species must not be left up to the SOE. Happy Valley is home to another native land snail, Powelliphanta “patrickensis,” and numerous other threatened endemic species including kaka, kakariki and western weka.

“The proposed opencast mine will have a footprint of 256ha – destroying habitat of all of these species, as well as the kiwi,” stated Frances. “The biggest threat to these kiwi is not stoats – it is Solid Energy. The biggest threat to all the endangered species in Happy Valley is a state-owned enterprise that will consider making species extinct because of a narrow economic interest. New Zealanders value kiwi and other endangered species. It is time the Government showed that they do too by stepping in and stopping this mine.”

ENDS

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