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Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson has welcomed the signing of a new commercial partnership with the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Air New Zealand working together to protect and promote our unique wildlife and special landscapes.
Under the partnership, which was announced in Auckland today, Air New Zealand will fly endangered species to new breeding sites around the country and invest directly in conservation programmes alongside the Great Walks network.
In addition, the airline will use its global marketing network to help DOC promote the Great Walks on both the domestic and international tourism markets.
“I’ve long said that conservation is everyone’s responsibility – not just DOC’s – and it is fantastic that such an iconic kiwi business has become involved,” Ms Wilkinson says.
“This is a natural partnership for DOC – and shows conservation and tourism go hand-in-hand.
“It will also mean more conservation work gets done. For example, new biodiversity initiatives on the Great Walks network will boost protection for rare birds and plants. Money saved transporting threatened species will be directed into field work.
“There’s also a real conservation gain in encouraging more people to get out and experience our Great Walks and National Parks. The Great Walks network already returns about $3 million a year to DOC – money that is put back into conservation.
“People who get out and appreciate our National Parks want to protect them. So the more people who are encouraged to do so, the better.”
The partnership between Air New Zealand and DOC is worth about $1 million annually for three years. Air New Zealand will also contribute staff time, with members of the 3000-strong Air New Zealand ‘Green Team’ set to take part in conservation initiatives.
Under the three year partnership, Air New Zealand and DOC have agreed to work together to:
The nine Great Walks include: the Milford Track, the Routeburn Track, the Kepler Track, Abel Tasman Coast Track, the Heaphy Track, the Tongariro Northern Circuit, the Whanganui Journey and the Lake Waikaremoana Track. Projects currently under consideration include new bird and bat protection projects and weed control programmes associated with the Routeburn, Milford, Rakiura, Kepler and Lake Waikaremoana tracks.
Plans include promotion of the Great Walks through Air New Zealand’s inflight and social media channels along with its million strong frequent flyer data base. DOC and Air New Zealand will also work together to develop new flight and hut packages and outdoor group activities on conservation land. DOC is one New Zealand’s biggest tourism activity providers. More than 50,000 people experience the Great Walks every year and the network returns about $3 million.
Approximately 200 translocations are carried out each year where DOC transports endangered species - such as, kiwi, kakapo, tuatara and takahe – to safe breeding sanctuaries as part of its active species recovery programmes. Air New Zealand already plays an active role in this process and last week successfully flew eight rare kakapo from Invercargill to Auckland en route to their new home on Little Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf.