Live Ocean: Olympic heroes join forces with iwi to save sea-life

By Aroha Mane

Ninety percent of New Zealand's seabirds are either threatened or on the verge of extinction. New Zealand-Olympic sailors Peter Burling and Blair Tuke are on a mission to improve the ocean's health through their charity "Live Ocean" and have joined forces with iwi.

Changes in NZ's marine environment has triggered a decline in seabirds and two Olympic gold medallists are putting themselves forward to do something about it.

“We've had childhoods like so many Kiwis growing up around the ocean. So many cool memories enjoying the ocean. I think part of that scary thing is what you don't see. The ocean is changing but you're not really getting to see the ecosystem underneath it,” says Blair Tuke.

To amplify their cause they've set up a charity with a goal to become world leaders.

So Live Ocean's a charity that Peter and I have set up and founded. It's been something we've been working on quietly and hard for the last year,” says Tuke.

Blair and I have spent a long time talking to iwi and scientists. The Ocean is changing at a rate we've never seen before and we need to change at a similar rate to it. Our dream is for NZ to lead this to the rest of the world,” says Peter Burling.

The Northland iwi of Ngāti Kuri has been active in revitalising their role as guardians of marine life and are in full support of the sailors.

So we were approached by Peter and Blair because they have similar aspirations we have in Ngāti Kuri. So Ngāti Kuri whakapapa is from Rangitahua. Our aspirations is to revitalize our environment and be true kaitiaki. We're really supportive of their thinking and their ethos. It's just an alignment of vision, principles and values,” says Ngāti Kuri Trust Board Chairman Harry Burkdardt.

Both the sailors and the iwi are encouraging all New Zealanders to get on board.

“If you want to get behind any of the projects we're supporting you can go to liveocean.com or follow us on Instagram @liveocean, we're posting all the time and really excited to be launched now and make some change,” says Tuke.

For now, they will dive into their first project for Live Ocean which is helping to save the albatross.