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Māui and Hector’s Dolphin Tributes Honour Loss and Hope

Friday 26 October 2018

The World’s smallest dolphins will be honoured at Muriwai Beach this Saturday 27 October at 2pm and at Akaroa on Sunday 28 at 2pm also. Māui and Hector’s dolphins are only found in New Zealand – they’re one of the rarest dolphins in the world and are gravely threatened by set nets, and other human causes, which create an unsustainable burden on top of their natural threats.

Dolphin supporters will gather at these two coastal locations to pay tribute to resident Māui and Hector’s dolphins, to honour and observe the loss of a pregnant Māui dolphin mother and calf three weeks ago off the North Island West Coast; five Hector’s dolphins killed in a net near Christchurch earlier this year, and at least fifteen Māui and Hector’s reported dead this year already.

There are only about 63 adult Māui dolphins left; some Hector’s groups have only around 40 individuals; even the healthiest groups lack full protection; and because the dolphins are slow breeding, every death is a step toward extinction.

Organisers say the event is an opportunity for people to mark the deaths of these endangered and much-loved dolphins this year. “It’s a chance to express our love for the dolphins, our grief at their deaths, and our hopes for their future, almost against the odds’, says Māui and Hector’s Dolphin Defenders Chair, Christine Rose.

‘The Government cancelled the proposed camera observer programme on the fishing fleet, and the prospects of protection under the planned Threat Management Plan are uncertain. In the meantime, more dolphins continue to die at an untenable level’.

“The deaths of at least fifteen Māui and Hector’s dolphins this year should remind us all, we need to protect them”. “These are just the deaths that are reported. At this event, we will remember and honour them all”. These lives matter. They matter to people of New Zealand and to the world, with the International Whaling Commission repeatedly recommending subsequent governments protect them throughout their whole habitat -–out to 20nm, in harbours and between the five sub-populations across the North and South Islands”.

At 2pm on 27 October, Dolphin Defenders will assemble at the dolphin sign on the Motutara Road end at Muriwai Beach. With a dolphin in a coffin and in mournful procession, supporters will file onto Muriwai beach, where flowers will be laid, and words of tribute will be offered by the public.

A supporting event will be held In Akaroa, at 2pm on Sunday 28 October. Local dolphin advocate Genevieve Robinson said “Hector’s are under pressure as net deaths still kill them faster than they can breed, and they have new threats like Lyttelton Port’s pile driving. We were devastated when five were killed in a single net earlier this year just off Banks Peninsula. That makes it very local, and very personal. We see this tribute as a way of marking that loss, and expressing our hopes for change”

Māui and Hector’s Dolphin Defenders say the Government needs to honour the promises it made to people of New Zealand before the election, by protecting Māui and Hector’s dolphins across their range, once and for all. “That’s what we hope for most, protection that will enable the survival of the species, so no more dolphins die avoidable, painful deaths at human hands’, says Mrs Rose.

• Màui and Hector’s dolphins are the smallest and one of the rarest marine dolphin species in the world

• They are distinguished by their small size, dark grey colouring and rounded dorsal fin.

• More about the Government’s proposed review of the Threat Management Plan timeline, here: https://www.doc.govt.nz/our-work/our-work-with-maui-dolphin/hectors-and-maui-dolphin-threat-management-plan/review/

• While acknowledging dolphin deaths need to be avoided, NGOs hope the TMP timeframe will be extended in order to properly incorporate international expert recommendations and to allow proper time for consultation with iwi and the public.


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