National's ‘Heart’ Not There To Save The Birds

Minister of Conservation Maggie Barry invites ridicule when she says she wants the hearts and minds of New Zealanders behind her to save our native birds.

“The hearts and minds of New Zealanders are in the right place Minister, what about the government’s,” says New Zealand First Leader and Northland MP Rt Hon Winston Peters.

“The Minister is trying to cover up National’s abysmal record as the Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright highlights the ‘alarming’ situation of New Zealand’s native birds.

“Under National many New Zealanders have looked on with dismay as DoC funds have been cut and staff axed in their hundreds, many from regional offices.

“National has been more focused on turning DoC into some sort of ‘great walks tourism’ business catering for the lower spend, than saving our species.

“The report says 168 birds are in alarming decline. National’s record to arrest this is abysmal.

“For example, in 2009 DOC took a $54 million funding cut, with the then Prime Minister saying it was ‘not a big ask’.

“In 2011 DoC staff in Rotorua, Nelson, Hokitika, Dunedin and Christchurch were among those to lose jobs as 100 were axed. In 2013, 72 more jobs went as DoC was told to ‘make savings’ of $8.7 million.  The list of budget cuts over four years is over $400m.

“Most New Zealanders who grew up here have followed the DoC story, or are aware of its work to save our birds.

“The hearts and minds of many New Zealanders have always been with the birds. But where is the Minister’s heart? She didn’t even know the difference between a kokako and kakapo when she stepped into her portfolio, and she hadn’t even bothered to do some homework,” says Mr Peters