Many NZ species at risk of extinction according to shocking report

By Tema Hemi

Many of our country's indigenous species are threatened with extinction, that is according to a report released today by the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ titled Environment Aotearoa 2019.

The report discusses serious environmental issues in New Zealand, showing for instance, that almost 4,000 of our native species are currently threatened with, or at risk of extinction.

Taranaki Whānui spokesperson on environmental issues Liz Mellish says, "It doesn't surprise me at all and really it just indicates the kōrero we've been having, particularly with local government level for many, many years.  The ministry really needs to look at their advisory panels, they need to think really hard about involving iwi in every aspect of their research and conclusions."

The report lays out the state of our environment across five domains: fresh water, marine environment, land, biodiversity and climate and shows that around two thirds of rare eco-systems in Aotearoa are in grave danger of collapse. 

Chief executive of the Ministry of the Environment Vicky Robertson says, "It's pretty grim reading so I think that was the thing that struck me.  What this report shows is that actually there are some things in here we need to take action on immediately.

"I'm actually hoping that this report will be used by all New Zealanders [to] be informed...particularly New Zealanders in the urban areas, to be aware of the issues and the impact that we have in the cities, as much as farmers, who are actually very aware of the impact they're having."

Forest and Bird have grave concerns, the report states starkly what they already know about the country's environmental issues.  

Chief executive Kevin Hague spoke about enormous effort needed to bring a native species back from the brink of extinction,

"It is not easy at all," says Hague, "They're threatened by destruction of habitat, they're threatened by invasive alien predators, they're threatened by climate change.

"And so, [protecting] a species like kākapo has involved millions and millions of dollars and an enormous contribution of people power. A ctually a synthesis of the Māori view of sustainable use of the environment and of Pākehā conservation traditions is going to be essential...so Forest and Bird are certainly looking for partnerships with iwi."