… gradually we are incorporating matauranga Maori, centuries worth of knowledge and practices into conservation and resource management. —Andrea Vance, Dominion Post 18 October 2021
Less than the Truth on our biodiversity
By Roger Childs
Some readers are sure to be following Vance’s Stuff series THIS IS HOW IT ENDS about the New Zealand biodiversity crisis. She is a very experienced journalist and has been a senior reporter for Stuff, but no doubt because the Government underpins Ms Boucher’s media organisation with regular big handouts, she is playing fast and loose with the truth and toeing the politically correct line.
The quote above is one example of some of the nonsense she is including in her articles. Whose matauranga knowledge is she referring to — Nga Puhi’s, Ngati Porou’s, Ngti Toa’s, Ngai Tahu’s or the wisdom from scores of other tribes? (More on this in a later article.)
However, the big question is did the native groups in pre-colonial times practice conservation?
No they didn’t and in fact they ravaged the environment as if there was no tomorrow. Leading environmentalist the late Bill Benfield summed it up: “If it was there it was destroyed.”
38 bird species were wiped out including the moa, Haast’s Eagle, adzebil and a giant goose. The slaughter of the moa went far beyond the hunters’ food needs. Leading moa expert Quinn Berentson describes it as serial overkill and speaks of huge meat works and ovens at the mouths of South Island rivers like the Waitaki, Rangitata and Rakaia. To help with the hunting, huge area of lowland forest were destroyed by burning. Evidence of this has come recently from core samples drilled through the ice in Antarctica.
So Maori claims today to be kaitiaki – guardians of the environment – rings very hollow as they have no historical justification.
Failing to acknowledge 1080 in Kea deaths
Vance’s article on Poisoning a taonga made no reference to the copious evidence that the green pellets have caused havoc amongst the inquisitive and acquisitive Kea in the South Island. I wrote the following letter to the editor about the issue, but it was not published. Some of this information featured in an earlier Waikanae Watch article and Carol Sawyer from Wanaka was a key source.
. In her “Poisoning a precious taonga” article she avoids stating that 1080 poison drops has killed many. In 2015 the Department of Conservation (DOC) announced in The Press that 13% of Kea they had monitored during a series of 1080 drops, had died. Then in March 2020 there was more bad news. DOC reported that after a 1080 drop in the Matukituki Valley 6 out of 12 radio-tagged Kea had died. That probably means that 50% of ALL Kea in the area are likely to have been killed too. There is plenty of other evidence of the lethal impact on those appealing, inquisitive and amazingly intelligent birds from locals in the Nelson Lakes and Mt Aspiring National Parks. On the Kepler Track near the upper Forest Burn bivouac, a construction worker who was cutting the track about 30 years ago spoke of many Kea being around. He remarked that you couldn’t leave anything outside!
But sadly there are no Kea there anymore.
In her On life support article there is reference to You’ve got wonderful iwi and hapu in communities doing work on the ground. Hey Andrea, there are thousands of non-Maori up and down the country who belong to restoration groups and spend plenty of time planting native species and maintaining conservation areas.
In the Kapiti area from North Otaki Beach to Paekakariki there are more than 20 such groups. One of the most impressive areas is along both banks of the Waikanae River where tens of thousands of trees, shrubs and flaxes have been planted.
There is plenty of work being done on the ground by a wide range of New Zealanders.
It is unfortunate that on such an important topic as the country’s biodiversity being under pressure the writer cannot be honest, accurate and comprehensive.
Roger Dewhurst said:
That is what we get when the media picks up a $55 million bribe.
Not only the media getting multi million bribes for this Government to get its way. I once approached a local Iwi to speak on an upcoming 1080 poison drop in a local reserve, they agreed for me to speak at the local Marae, a few days later I got a phone call to say they were calling the meeting off???
Tony Orman said:
True investigative journalism is dead and with all due respect, Andrea Vance and other journalists are toeing the line in response to government handouts to their employer (Stuff).
Where was the counter view as to why keas have declined so drastically? Veteran deerstalkers, musterers and high country farmers could’ve been interviewed.
Surely any fool can see kea we’re abundant from the first of European settlement through to about the end of the 20th century.
For 100 years we know they were abundant – so much so, with bounties on dead keas because of killing sheep – then from about 2000 the kea went into sharp decline. It was about 2000 the effects of DOC’s pro -1080 poison polices became apparent.
But bureaucrats and government will never admit mistakes. At the moment DOC is blaming kea deaths on the birds eating lead head nails. C’mon DOC tell the truth. Lead head nails were first used on mountain huts from about the 1850s. For 150 years keas were abundant with many more huts built in the 20th century, using lead head nails. So too were predators present during that time.
Why, why Andrea Vance, did the decline only happen since 2000?
Please do some investigating.
Joyce Glennie said:
Excellent article. Thank you for your knowledge and insight into this. I think it needs to go to our Dear Leader to read, and ask her to clarify and explain why the truth in this area is being hidden from the public. Once again the government makes up its own version of “truth” and expects us to believe her. But we don’t any longer. Thank you for a very insightful article. You are a true New Zealand hero