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Unusual Vandalism a Sign of the Times

14 August 2014

Unusual Vandalism a Sign of the Times

Most election years, there’s some collateral damage to political hoardings. But Kumeu has suffered from an unusual, targeted kind of vandalism. None of the many Party political signs have been vandalised, but a harmless, arty ‘Vote for Dolphins’ sign appears to have been deliberately destroyed within 24 hours of its erection.

The ‘Vote for Dolphins’ sign, properly authorised and with Council consent, was erected among party political signs at the official Council sign site by the Huapai library. Campaigners for the critically endangered Maui’s dolphin (and the threatened Hector’s) are encouraging New Zealanders to think of the dolphins when they vote.

Long time dolphin advocate and Kumeu local, Christine Rose, says with only 55 Maui’s and four other isolated subpopulations of Hector’s, all at risk, all parties should be committed to saving these dolphins. “But some Party policies are definitely better than others”. “At the current rate, Maui’s will become extinct, as will sub-species populations of Hector’s in the South Island”. “We’re encouraging people to vote for the dolphins this election. Another three years of bad management could see Maui’s become biologically extinct”.

Mrs Rose suspects someone with a vengeance is behind the destruction of the Vote for the Dolphins sign, given previous dolphin signs have suffered a similar fate. “That takes some persistence, and is probably someone quite local, with a specific axe to grind, given none of the political signs, usually the target of vandalism, have been touched”. “But our message is too important to ignore. We’re encouraging New Zealanders around the country to erect similar signs, to vote for the parties with the most dolphin friendly policies, and we’ll be replacing the sign that was destroyed, with bigger, more secure signs, on State Highway 16”.

The Maui’s and Hector’s Dolphin Education/Action Incorporated Society has the aims of supporting awareness of Maui’s & Hector’s dolphins, an improvement in their health and population status, public education of Maui’s & Hector’s dolphins, greater understanding and stewardship of the dolphins and to foster links with the public and similar groups both in New Zealand and overseas.

Maui’s & Hector’s dolphins are the world’s smallest and rarest dolphin. They are found only in New Zealand waters; they are an inshore species, found within waters 100m deep and they are short lived and slow breeding. All these factors make them particularly vulnerable to human induced threats. Up until the 1970s there were about 30,000 Hector’s & Maui’s, found around New Zealand, but now those numbers have reduced to only about 7000 Hector’s in four sub-populations around the South Island, and between 48-69 Maui’s off the North Island West Coast.


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