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New Campaign to Highlight Maui’s Dolphin Plight

WWF Launches New Campaign to Highlight Maui’s Dolphin Plight in Election Year

Global conservation organisation WWF today launched its The Last 55 campaign at the Maritime Museum in Auckland.

The campaign calls on all New Zealand political leaders to make a commitment this year to save the last 55 critically endangered Maui’s dolphins.

WWF-New Zealand Executive Director Chris Howe says Maui’s dolphins are right on the brink of extinction.

“We are down to the last 55 dolphins, so we are calling on our political leaders to let them know it’s time to take action to save this precious species.”

“Maui’s are the rarest marine dolphins in the world; they only exist on the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand. We have an obligation to the world to do everything we can to save them,” he says.

Mr Howe says Maui’s dolphins need to be protected across their full habitat from set-netting and trawling.

“Support should also be provided to fishers to help them transition to dolphin-friendly practices. Fishing communities should not have to bear the cost of saving this precious dolphin alone,” he says.

“We aim to present a petition with at least 55,000 signatures to political leaders before the general election in September, to let them know New Zealanders think it’s time to take action,” he says.

Famous author, Witi Ihimaera is supporting the campaign and said:

“As the author of The Whale Rider you'd expect me to support the survival of cetacean species large and small. Maui's dolphins are among the smallest, and now there are only 55 of them left. It's time for all of us to be kaitiaki, their protectors.”

Another famous New Zealander, singer/songwriter, Jamie McDell, is also lending her voice of support to this campaign.

“I am thrilled to be working with WWF and wholeheartedly support this campaign to save Maui’s Dolphins. I have always been really passionate about marine wildlife conservation, as evidenced by my commitment to raising awareness through my music,” she says.

The Last 55 will raise awareness through a unique social media drive about the possible extinction of the remaining 55 Maui’s dolphins and will encourage people to sign a petition to protect the critically endangered species.

Ogilvy & Mather New Zealand Executive Creative Director, Angus Hennah, said that involved Ogilvy staff worked to create an innovative and multi-faceted campaign.
“We wanted all New Zealanders to be able to experience how it feels to be a part of a rapidly dwindling community. We have created a Facebook app, which feeds off a person’s profile information, to give insight into what it would be like to lose all but 55 of their friends. It’s a really small number.”

“People are then urged to sign the petition once they’ve used the app and share it with all of their friends,” he says.

People can also support the campaign through Instagram, Twitter and by sharing a Spotify playlist with just 55 minutes of music to create awareness.

People can use The Last 55 app by visiting thelast55.co.nz to gain some insight into what it would be like to only have 55 friends. For those that do not wish to/do not have Facebook, they can still support the cause by visiting wwf.org.nz/savethelast55.

- Ends -

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