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.
Despite this abundance of biodiversity, New Zealand’s waterways and oceans are under increasing pressure from human activity. Dairy and livestock production require large-scale farming activities, many of which cause runoff of fertilizers and animal waste that degrade waterways and create “dead zones” in estuaries where nutrient pollution reduces the oxygen levels needed to sustain marine life. In addition, an influx of invasive species from rats to bangalow palms prey on or out-compete native animals and plants, resulting in diminished populations of those native species.
Intensifying and new uses are also threatening the health of New Zealand’s marine environment. A growing aquaculture industry and the possibility of expanded deepwater mining for iron ore and other minerals present an economic opportunity, but also create deep divisions between industry, fishers and the public. Meanwhile, the ongoing loss of shellfish reefs in coastal water bodies such as the Hauraki Gulf and other critical nearshore habitats has resulted in degraded water quality and fewer fish.
To address these freshwater and marine challenges, New Zealand has asked The Nature Conservancy to help it develop sustainable solutions. The government’s goal is to ensure the long-term strength of its economy while also protecting important natural resources and preserving its unique culture.
With more than 25 years of conservation success in Asia Pacific and an established track record of engaging diverse stakeholders around a common goal, the Conservancy has both the history and the expertise needed to support New Zealand’s efforts to achieve its conservation goals for nature and people.
Together, we will accomplish the following:
1. Introduce market-based approaches to help reduce freshwater pollution. We will determine how supply chain reform, water funds and impact investments can benefit New Zealand’s freshwater resources, based on our experience with employing such tools in the United States, China, Australia and other nations. These approaches will complement existing government regulations for water quality and use.
2. Build a multi-stakeholder coalition to restore the Hauraki Gulf. We will help support currently under-resourced efforts to replenish reefs and mussel beds in New Zealand’s most-utilized body of water.
3. Support the conservation and expansion of New Zealand’s Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). We will use the Conservancy’s Mapping Ocean Wealth approach to quantify the value of ocean resources within MPAs for a variety of indicators, from tourism revenue to fishery production.
4. Enhance the sustainability of regional fisheries. We will export key lessons learned from New Zealand’s rights-based fisheries management system to regional neighbors that share migration routes for high-value species. A recent Conservancy report presents some of these lessons.
Contact the New Zealand Program
The Nature Conservancy-New Zealand
PO Box 11691
2 Manners Street