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Minister launches 50th Conservation Week - Nature needs us

The Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage is celebrating 50 years of Conservation Week or Te Wiki Tiaki Ao Turoa and encouraging people to get involved in conservation.

“We’ve come a long way since the first Conservation Week in 1969. Some of the biggest conservation triumphs include remarkable turnarounds in the populations of species that were on the verge of extinction,” Eugenie Sage said.

“Fifty years ago, the Chatham Islands’ black robin, tieke/saddleback and kākāpō were in dire straits, with dangerously low numbers. Intensive conservation work and dedicated people have brought these precious birds back from the brink.

“This year’s theme “Nature needs us” highlights how much more we can do to secure native plants and wildlife and the places they live.  

“We have a global biodiversity crisis and that crisis is very real in New Zealand. More than 4,000 of our native plants and animals are threatened, or at risk of extinction, with introduced predators, rats, stoats and possums, being the biggest threat.”

“These are long term challenges yet we’re making progress. I’m proud that since coming into government we’ve secured two record funding increases for the Department of Conservation to support nature.

“If more of us give nature a helping hand, we can help save species unique to New Zealand - iconic species like kea and kiwi and those less well-known – fungi, snails, insects, lizards and fish. It’s as simple as that. Now’s the time to put things right.”

“Volunteer support combined with DOC’s landscape scale work has seen incredible conservation gains over the years – little spotted kiwi are on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, kōkako have returned to the Hunua Ranges, kākā can be seen in downtown Wellington, Miramar is possum free and well on the way to being rat-free, and tui are coming back to Banks Peninsula.”

“Preliminary results from DOC’s latest survey of New Zealanders released today show many people care deeply about nature and suggests that around one and a half million adult New Zealanders were involved in conservation activities in the last year,” Eugenie Sage said.

The survey shows individuals aged between 18 and 34 years were most likely to have participated in conservation activities.

Three quarters of those surveyed (76%) believe conservation is important and 40% were actively involved.   The most common activities that people took part in were pest control, native tree planting and restoration, and educating others about the importance of conservation.

“Events around New Zealand for Conservation Week Te Wiki Tiaki Ao Turoa are a great opportunity to get out into nature and connect with our native wildlife, bush, streams, and marine life. Activities include guided walks, trapping workshops, community plantings and beach clean-ups.

DOC’s website has great ideas for restoring biodiversity to your backyard, including tips for backyard trapping and ways to make your garden lizard friendly.

Conservation Week runs from 14-22nd September and there are over 200 events across Aotearoa that people can get involved in. Visit DOC’s website for information on Conservation Week: www.conservationweek.org.nz.