Whangārei's Kiwi North has welcomed almost $15 million of Government funding to support wildlife institutions in the post Covid-19 world.
Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage announced over the weekend that wildlife institutions will get a $14.89 million boost in a Covid-19 support package.
Sage said the funding would mitigate the closure of vital protection facilities, with eco-sanctuaries, zoos and aquariums as well as wildlife rescue playing a crucial role in conservation.
Kiwi North Director Operations Allie Fry said her whole team is delighted with the announcement of a $15 million fund to support zoological organisations such as theirs.
Kiwi North, at Maunu, is home of the only Kiwi House in Northland and is a charitable trust, and depends heavily on income from visitor admissions, Fry said. It also houses lizards and tuatara.
''With the pre-Covid normal visitation consisting of 50 per cent international visitors this income has been reduced by half for the unknown future. Other funding sources are under huge pressure, so the Minister of Conservation's announcement today is extremely welcome.''
She said the Australasian body, Zoo and Aquarium Association (ZAA), has been lobbying hard for this support for its New Zealand membership, with significant consultation and input from the sector.
''We know by comparison we have a small animal collection here at Kiwi North, but they are all precious and the cost is relative,'' Fry said.
''You cannot turn the power off, lock the door and walk away with living native taonga to care for. Our incredible husbandry staff were here looking after their charges throughout all stages of lockdown.''
She said Kiwi North contributes significantly to the preservation of our endangered species through LEOTC programs available to all schools in Northland, and engagement with community and visitors.
''It is also contributes majorly to the Whangārei and Northland tourism experience,'' Fry said.
''We will not compromise animal welfare, nor the quality of our advocacy and visitor experience. This funding opportunity will certainly help us go forward into what is a very uncertain time to come.''
The fund will be administered by the Department of Conservation.
"Eco-sanctuaries, zoos, aquariums, wildlife parks, and wildlife rescue, hospital and rehabilitation facilities provide crucial support for the recovery of Aotearoa New Zealand's indigenous and threatened species," Sage said.
"The impacts of the Covid-19 response have severely reduced wildlife institutions' revenue from visitor admissions and philanthropic donations. The continued closure of New Zealand's borders means revenue is likely to remain low for the 2020/21 financial year.''