New Zealand’s geographic isolation and historically limited human footprint has made it home to an impressive array of flora and fauna—over two-thirds of which are found nowhere else on earth, such as the iconic kiwi and kakapo that are enduring symbols of national pride. As many as 65,000 marine species flourish in coastal waters and deep oceans, from Bryde’s whales and dusky dolphins to leatherback turtles and yellow-eyed penguins.
Despite this abundance of biodiversity, New Zealand’s native plants and animals are among the world’s most imperiled. Agricultural and forestry activities can cause excessive run-off, degrading waterways and creating “dead zones” in estuaries where nutrient pollution depletes oxygen levels needed to sustain marine life. Invasive species—from rats to bangalow palms—prey on or out-compete native animals and plants.
In the ocean, intensifying and new uses are threatening the health of New Zealand’s marine environment. Expanding aquaculture and the potential for marine mining of iron ore and other minerals from the ocean floor present an economic opportunity, but are creating deep divisions between these industries and concerned groups, from local NGOs to commercial and recreational fisheries. Meanwhile, the loss of shellfish reefs in coastal water bodies such as the Hauraki Gulf and other critical nearshore habitats has resulted in degraded water and fewer fish.
Using our science and experience working in 72 countries, The Nature Conservancy will help New Zealand better protect its freshwater and marine resources. Here, we’ll show how supply chain reform and impact investments that deliver both conservation results and financial returns for investors can reduce freshwater pollution and provide cleaner water for nature and people. With local partners, we will help restore oyster reefs and strengthen the sustainability of regional fisheries on which New Zealand and its neighbors depend.
You will not find these shy, solitary, and endangered creatures huddled together in vast colonies typical of most Antarctic penguins.
The iconic Hauraki Gulf is New Zealand’s most-utilized body of water—and its most compromised, due to decades of overuse.