The job of preserving New Zealand's taonga is now going to be up to all of us, from private land owners to iwi to community groups.

It is great that the magnificent kōkako is back on Mount Pirongia. Last year 14 kōkako were released on the mountain.

These birds were descendants of a population of kōkako on the mountain in the 1990s that were rescued because of the danger of extinction from pests.

The kōkako survivors that have been returned to the mountain underline a sea change in how we must see our biodiversity in this coming year.


Up until now we have seen saving our native animals, plants and fish as somehow the sole responsibility of the Department of Conversation on our public lands.

That is going to have to change and the job of preserving New Zealand's taonga is now going to be up to all of us, from private land owners to iwi to community groups.

Already lots of people are involved. In Auckland alone there are 7000 private land covenants showing just how many people in our largest city believe in conservation on private land.

At stake is Aotearoa's biodiversity. 83 per cent of our bats, 82 per cent of our birds, 28 per cent of our marine mammals and 72 per cent of our freshwater fish are now threatened or at risk of extinction.

Nearly half of all our bird species have disappeared since humans first landed on the motu.

Our Coalition Government is looking at two key tools to achieve our goals on saving our endangered creatures.
The first step will be a national policy statement on biodiversity.

This will help our councils set the priorities that is consistent across the country

We will be helping landowners to find ways to look after the forest and wetlands and the bugs and frogs that live on their land.


The national policy statement will have teeth. It will set out a range of measures and require councils to take a more proactive role in protecting biodiversity. Through their plans and other activities.

Led by the Minister of Conservation we will also have a new biodiversity strategy by 2020.

This sets out our outcomes and goals for biodiversity for the next 20 years and will be at the heart of our biodiversity strategy for the decades to come.

There will be a chance to have your say on both these planks of our biodiversity policies.

Around June to August this year both the national policy statement and the strategy will be open to public consultation.

As you go about this autumn enjoying our magnificent landscapes and biodiversity it will be important to remember that from now on protecting this taonga is up to all of us and we all need to do our bit.

Nanaia Mahuta is MP for the Hauraki-Waikato electorate and the Minister for Local Government and Maori Development, and associate Minister for the Environment.