Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Culture Beats The Law?

Dozens of shorebirds have been slaughtered in Northland's Kaipara Harbour.
More than 100 godwits, knots, endangered dotterels and other shorebirds were illegally "harvested" at the end of February.
Normally this sort of gutless action happens out of sight of anyone...but this time it was witnessed. A resident says people boated into the isolated bay and began blasting with a shotgun. The Herald on Sunday reports the shooters threatened the man, that if he reported what happened his house would be burned down. Then they collected dead birds and left, leaving at least half a dozen wounded behind.
Collecting the birds indicates the shooters were going to eat them, and knowing where the witness lived shows local knowledge. Thus the finger points to local maori as being responsible (even if they're NOT). Traditionally maori used to catch these species, and there've been illegal ''cultural harvests'' in the Far North in recent years. The local maori trust says the shooting was not a "sanctioned cultural harvest", and wants them caught as much as DOC does.
Department of Conservation says both dotterels and godwits are protected species, with heavy fines up to $100,000 and a jail term up to six months for harming them. However, the dotterel shootings are particularly worrying as there are only about 1500 in NZ, and that area has a breeding colony.
endangered dotterel at Waiwera
So there're two issues here:
(1) the obvious - illegal shooting of protected birdlife, and
(2) one from the "let's not talk about it" box - "cultural harvesting" of protected birds.
The PC Brigade will fight that the Treaty Of Waitangi enshrines maori rights to consume this wildlife. But on the other hand, we have strict laws to protect these very same birds.
And who gave local maori trusts the power to "sanction" their killing anyway? We're not talking common-or-garden mallard ducks here! Surely any such approval must come from DOC! But if local maori administration can "sanction a harvest" of protected birds, then it logically follows that our conservation laws apply only to white NZers!
As long as that contentious manipulated divisive Treaty is held up as some sort of sacred tome, NZ will never be a happy multi-cultural partnership with one set of laws for all. That maori can "sanction the harvesting" of endangered birds is a shocking situation:
"Hey, bro, me and the cuzzies fancy a kiwi casserole this weekend. Any chance of giving us the ok? Chuuuurrrr!"
[...photo courtesy of Wendy Cain Photography]


Margo, Wellington said...

What a beautiful photograph!

Chris Pitt said...

Regarding the Kaipara Harbour slaughter:
Basically, only DOC can authorise the selected killing or taking of threatened species under the Wildlife Act Section 53. However, DOC has never done this.
One such permit has ever been granted, I believe, by the Wildlife Service (before DOC was created), for the harvest of albatross on the Chatham Islands.
Five years ago, iwi/hapu in the far North applied to harvest kuaka (godwit, or snipe). DOC followed the process and undertook an analysis of the state of the species, and did not grant the permit.

Chris Pitt
Senior Media Advisor
Department of Conservation

Section 53: Director-General may authorise taking or killing of wildlife for certain purposes
(1) The Director-General may from time to time in writing authorise any specified person to catch alive or kill for any purpose approved by the Director-General any absolutely protected or partially protected wildlife or any game or any other species of wildlife the hunting or killing of which is not for the time being permitted.
(2) The Director-General may from time to time in writing authorise any specified person—and may in any such authority authorise the holder to have any such wildlife or game or eggs or progeny in his or her or its possession for any of the purposes specified in this subsection, and may in any such authority authorise the holder to liberate any such wildlife or game or progeny in such area and during such period as may be specified in the authority.