Here’s how we can stop that pipeline from being built through a kiwi sanctuary

Another day, another ‘I can’t believe I have to fight this thing’

Just imagine this 10-metre billboard truck parked outside Maggie Barry’s office next week. Chip in here to make it happen.

“‘It comes down to predator control’ — Maggie Barry’s plan of attack to replenish our kiwi numbers.”

That was the headline when our Minister of Conservation announced the Government’s plan to boost our kiwi population.

More recently it was, “Maggie Barry has declared war on stoats in the Rimutaka Forest Park”.

Maggie, it would seem, is on a mission to save our kiwi from predators. If you ask us, a pipeline is pretty damn big predator.

Last week Okuru Enterprises was granted resource consent by the Westland District Council to build the pipeline by Mt Aspiring National Park. The company has also been granted consent to take 800,000 tonnes, or 800 million litres per month.

Plans for the pipeline

We’ve read the consent and what it states is that Okuru Enterprises must develop a ‘kiwi management plan’, with the objective of “avoiding adverse effects from construction and ongoing activities within conservation land on Haast tokoeka [kiwi] living within a 100ha radius of the proposed pipeline route”.

It goes on to state that if kiwi are adversely affected, they will be “removed from the site”.

But here’s the thing, ‘If things go wrong, we can just move the kiwi’ is a really bad precedent to set.

To make matters worse, the team at Forest & Bird told us today that the endangered Fiordland Crested Penguin also lives in the pathway of the pipeline at Jackson’s Bay.

That’s these little guys:

Photo © Andrew Walmsley.

We’ve had a lot of ideas that could help keep the pressure on with this campaign:

  • Renting a huge truck to park in front of Maggie Barry’s office or Parliament next week — a real attention grabber for Ms Barry and the media
  • Making human-sized kiwi costumes to follow Ms Barry around the North Shore and everywhere else
  • Building a giant pipeline through Ms Barry’s office in Takapuna
  • Put an ad on the front page of the Otago Daily Times to rally big support

We’re only limited by our imaginations and what we can raise together now. Click on this link to chip in.

To their credit, Okuru Enterprises did get the input of an independent kiwi expert called John McClennan, who has worked with kiwi conservation programs for decades. He was called in as an independent consultant to look at the scheme when permission was first sought in 1993, and has stayed up-to-date on the project. He says he is confident the pipeline would have minimal impact on the kiwi if it does go ahead.

But we don’t think one person’s opinion, informed as it may be, is enough.

According to the Council’s notes from the consent meeting, only three submissions were made in regards to the pipeline project — all in opposition. But we’ve had more than 13,000 people sign this petition, so we know more people care about our kiwi and our national parks than that!

The low submission turnout will have more do with the fact that Council didn’t notify people about this process, or that if you did manage to find out about the process, submissions had to be done via the post. Who sends letters anymore?!

The proposal to take our water, ship it off shore for what seems like marginal benefit to the local community but with a potentially catastrophic cost to a species that’s already at critical risk of extinction looks like a bad one.

As we know from our own history, humans tend to underestimate how wrong things can go, and it’s usually our wildlife, trees, rivers, birds and lakes that pay the cost.

Let’s learn from our mistakes, and do better by our native kiwi and penguin this time around.

A photo of a Haast kiwi (Credit: DOC)

We work together to create a society where people and planet are more important than profit and Te Tiriti o Waitangi is honoured.