Conservationists got in a flap yesterday, alleging Taylor Swift's crew put endangered baby birds at risk while filming near Auckland.

But a spokesman for Screen Auckland - part of Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (Ateed) - said he had been assured the crew did not go near the habitat of the dotterel, of which only about 1700 remain in New Zealand.

It was rumoured that the American pop superstar was filming at Bethells Beach this week.

During the time, it was alleged the New Zealand production company making the music video breached its permit by taking up to 12 vehicles on to the beach, when it only had approval for two. Permits are issued by Ateed.


The area has a protected zone for the nationally vulnerable dotterels, which nest in September and incubate their eggs for about a month, according to the Department of Conservation.

Conversely, an image supplied by Ateed said the birds hatched in January and February, with fledglings in the area between march and April.

According to DoC, the newly hatched chicks look a bit like bumble bees with long legs, and become active soon after hatching.

On the beach, their nests are easily destroyed by careless feet, dogs and off-road vehicles.

Young chicks, when disturbed, can die from exhaustion as they cannot eat in time or get to their feeding grounds at the water's edge.

Swift's management and record label have not responded to queries about the breach of permit.

Screen Auckland's Michael Brook said he was unable to disclose the name of the New Zealand production company that was making the video for Taylor Swift, as applications were confidential.

He said it was evident, based on the photo in the Herald, that there were more than the permitted number of vehicles on the site during the shoot.


The purpose of the permit application process was to minimise impact on public areas, he said, and in the 2014/15 financial year, Screen Auckland issued 543 Auckland Council permits for filming on public open spaces across the region.

Mr Brook estimated those productions were worth $130 million to Auckland's economy.

"It's very rare that Screen Auckland receives complaints about a major breach of a permit," he said.

A letter was dropped to Bethells locals, and the surf club was contacted three days before filming began.

Mr Brook said Screen Auckland had facilitated permits for the production company "on a variety of large-scale productions over the years," and had not been made aware of "significant permit condition breaches."

The fee for the company filming at the beach was between $200 and $800.

But is Swift being unfairly singled out or is she another example of celebrities who think the rules don't apply to them?

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