Wellington protest march for Maui’s dolphin with message for minister
PROTESTERS fighting for the last 55 Maui’s dolphins will target Nick Smith in a march on the Department of Conservation in Wellington tomorrow.
The protest is over claims that the Minister of Conservation misled Parliament last week about Maui dolphin sightings in areas approved for oil exploration.
Wellingtonians will gather at Civic Square at noon tomorrow and march to the DoC office in Manners St to deliver the letter voicing concern about the lack of action being taken to ensure the survival of New Zealand’s smallest and most rare dolphin.
Protest organiser Christine Rose, says campaigners want accountability and action from the Minister of Conservation.
However, Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said Department of Conservation figures showed there had been 10 sightings in the area.
DoC spokesperson Reuben Williams, this week could not confirm if the sightings had now been validated.
“I suspect that yes, these sightings would be validated sightings but without looking at them on a map it will be hard to provide a firm answer to this question,” Mr Williams says.
“We know the public of New Zealand want better protection for these lovely little dolphins, scientists say it’s imperative, and we aim to represent those views with our letter and march,” she says.
Mrs Rose says they hope to retain focus on the importance of Maui’s Dolphins, to continue reflecting public opinion to the Government, and to raise awareness.
“Nick Smith should answer for this and the world condemnation that results.
Maui’s dolphins are now an election issue and we seek to ensure New Zealanders have the facts about Maui’s, their threats, and the policies of different parties so people can make an informed, and hopefully wise choice,” she says.
Organisers hope to attract a good crowd with representatives from non-governmental organisations (NGO), members of the public and MPs expected to attend.
Mrs Rose says the event is part of a rolling campaign which is part of a wider movement, involving other NGOs and concerned citizens.
“This is a reminder that we will not give up,” she says.
Mr Williams says DoC will continue to focus on the greatest threats to Maui dolphin and as there have been no recorded deaths of Maui/Hector’s caused by petroleum exploration, it has not been included in their Threat Management Plan.
“We are currently in the process of appointing a Maui’s dolphin research advisory group made up of all interested parties to advise on research priorities for the species,” he says.
The Wellington protest will be followed by a similar march and presentation in John Key’s electorate of Helensville on July 13 and other marches in centres around the country are also being planned.
Join the event on Facebook here.