It's a shame the Government doesn't show the same sort of commitment to the preservation of New Zealand's priceless treasures as was shown by Khaled Asaad, the murdered antiquities chief of Palmyra in Syria. He was tortured and beheaded by Isis (Islamic State) thugs for refusing to reveal hidden antiquities. That's dedication.
Meanwhile, a world away on Motutapu Island in the Hauraki Gulf, DoC dispatches a Dad's Army of recreational deerstalkers to have some fun on a pukeko shoot. To add a frisson of excitement to the exercise, sharing the island shooting range were 21 incredibly rare takahe, placed on Motutapu in an attempt to increase the world population of fewer than 300 birds.
DoC's northern conservation services director, Andrew Baucke, says the hunters were "carefully briefed on how to differentiate between the flightless takahe and pukeko, including instructions to only shoot birds on the wing". But DoC staff were not part of the shooting parties "because it's not safe to have untrained people among the cullers while they're shooting". The takahe might disagree.
Somehow, in the excitement of killing 600 pukeko, four takahe lay dead. Their rotting bodies were discovered a week later by DoC staff, tracing the "mortality signal" from the birds' transmitters.
Around the world it was headline news. Back here, the best we got was Conservation Minister Maggie Barry, "disappointed and deeply saddened", Mr Baucke expressing deep disappointment, and deerstalkers' national president Bill O'Leary "appalled" and apologising.
But two weeks on, the only action under way is two inquiries within DoC to ascertain the facts and decide whether the shooters can be prosecuted.
I'm all for the shooters being held to account. If only because among the benefits of membership, which the website says is open to anyone "no matter what your experience", is access to $10 million public liability insurance cover.
Just what four priceless birds are worth is anyone's guess. But $10 million sounds a good starting point.
But, in the end, the deerstalkers are just the guys who pulled the triggers. Also needed is an independent inquiry into the madness that unleashed a bunch of volunteers with shotguns - not their usual weapon - among 21 endangered birds.
Even Mr Baucke now concedes "pukeko have very similar colourings to the flightless takahe and takahe may have been mistaken for pukeko".
DoC's defence is that the deerstalkers were used in 2012 and 2013 and nothing untoward happened. But good luck is no excuse. It was crazy seven years ago when a similar exercise on Mana Island off Wellington led to a takahe death. It remains an unacceptable risk.
An independent inquiry would also point the finger at a Government that has been deliberately starving DoC of funds since taking office. In its 2009 Budget it announced a four-year plan to slash $54 million from the department's budget. This was hot on the heels of a performance review by Auditor-General Lyn Provost which warned that DoC "is not winning the battle against threats to New Zealand's indigenous species and the habitats they live in".
Despite this warning, since 2009 staffing has been slashed by 323. Funding cuts continue. In the last Budget, operational funding was cut by $8.7 million and natural heritage management by $7 million. In 2013, then DoC director-general Al Morrison preached the wonders of "public-private partnerships", with businesses and volunteer groups being drafted to share the conservation burden. Four dead takahe are the collateral damage.
Twenty years ago, a DoC-built viewing platform at Cave Creek, near Punakaiki on the West Coast, collapsed, causing the death of 14 people. Key points in the subsequent commission of inquiry report are eerily relevant.
Judge Graeme Noble wrote: "No government department can do its job without adequate resourcing. In my opinion, it is up to governments to ensure that departments charged with carrying out statutory functions for the benefit of the community are provided with sufficient resources to enable them to do so."
He added, "The root causes of the collapse lie in a combined systemic failure against the background of an underfunded and under-resourced department employing (at least at grassroots level) a band of enthusiasts prepared to turn their hands to any task."