“Ninety-three of our bird species are found in no other country”, says Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright, in her ‘Taonga of an island nation: Saving New Zealand’s birds’ report just released . “We must look after them. Our birds need help not only in national parks, but on farms, along rivers and coasts, and in cities. This is a battle for all New Zealanders.” We at Save Our Reserves (SOR) agree.
The Point England Development Enabling Bill currently before parliament really shows the Government up for its inconsistencies when it comes to conservation. While they can boast great aspirations for a predator-free New Zealand in 2050, they are blind to the tragedy they are creating right now.
If passed, the Point England Development Enabling Bill will build houses over 50% of the endangered Northern New Zealand Dotterel nesting grounds there. But the Government is now proposing with its latest SOP (proposed amendment) plans to put sports fields in the middle of the remaining bird sanctuary.
Point England Reserve development proposal showing newly proposed sports fields on headland where endangered Northern New Zealand Dotterel breed and the fence that has protected them to date.
This SOP attempts to show the Government is listening to the public’s outrage at the loss of well utilised sports fields. Yet forcing Auckland Council to plonk sports fields in the middle of the remaining bird sanctuary shows they are hard of hearing. Because the public are also outraged by this Bill’s disrespect for the environmental and landscape values that they hold dear.
As the above diagram shows, dotterel have only nested within the protection of the currently fenced paddocks, indicating their importance to that breeding success. Yet the Government and Ngāti Paoa’s plan is to remove both the cows and the fences, claiming they are increasing the “accessible open space” at the reserve and thus “improving” the reserve for the public.
Nick Smith claimed at the second reading of this Bill that “both Ngāti Paoa and Auckland Council are totally committed to their (NZ dotterel) future”. But now the Government is double dipping, how can the same land be both sports fields and a protected nesting site for endangered birds? It is quite clear from the diagram above that endangered dotterel do not nest in sports fields.
Northern New Zealand dotterel chick at Point England Reserve. Photo Credit: Shaun Lee
While the challenges we face for the future of our native birds are enormous, even Federated Farmers say their future “rests on intelligent planning, prioritisation and the guts to do the right thing.” We at SOR are unsure there is any “intelligent planning” behind this Point England Development Enabling Bill. We asked for an environmental impact report and a better development plan 6 months ago but the Government is hell bent on houses at all costs, ignoring public input and making far-reaching decisions without expert advice.
Predator-free New Zealand in 2050 is an admirable goal, however, if the Government keeps overriding community wishes to look after their conservation dependent species, by 2050 we won’t have many endangered birds left on mainland New Zealand.