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In the dense native bush of Hokianga's Waima ranges, a baby kokako owes its life, in part, to the Rainbow Warrior bombers.

The kokako is one of hundreds of recipients that still share more than $500,000 a year from the fallout of the bombing in Auckland 20 years ago tomorrow.

New Zealand received $13 million in compensation from France in 1986 and another $3.5 million was handed over in 1991 to establish the New Zealand/France Friendship Fund.

Half of the initial compensation went to the Government and most of the remainder was divided into two trusts - one for conservation and development, the other for peace and disarmament.

In the past 16 years, about $6.5 million - the interest on the money - has paid for hundreds of mostly small scale projects and scholarships.

One of the biggest grants last year - $37,000 - went to the Te Mahurehure Roopu Whenua Taonga Trust for its predator control programme on the northern slopes of the Waima Ranges in Northland. The ranges are home to kiwi and kokako and several rare plants, and also to possums, rats, pigs and goats, which threaten the native species and their habitats.

Programme project manager Claire Morgan said the money paid the salaries of three kaitiaki, or caretakers, who went into the forest for days at a time to kill predators.


She said when their pest control programme began more than two years ago, they didn't hear a single kokako call.

"Then we thought we heard one, then we had sightings, then we had chicks. We were extremely lucky to get that funding. It was a big boost for us."

The Friendship Fund has dished out about $2.5 million since 1992.

Chairwoman Judith Trotter said it was a modest programme which brought ordinary people in New Zealand and France together, mostly through exchanges, and thus fulfilled its purpose.

When the fund was agreed in April 1991, then French Prime Minister Michel Rocard said it was to mark the end of the Rainbow Warrior saga, "to turn the page in the relationship and to say, if we had known each other better, this thing never would have happened," Judith Trotter said.

One of the fund's projects is a residency for French writers in Wellington.

New Zealand poet Michael Harlow, who established a collaboration with one of the writers, said the links brought important benefits.

France had to give New Zealand US$7 million (about $13 million) in 1986 as compensation for the Rainbow Warrior affair, after UN arbitration. It also handed over US$2 million (about $3.5 million) in 1991 for a friendship fund. Where the money went:

* Government: $7 million to offset costs of investigation.

* New Zealand-France Friendship Fund: $3.5 million, the interest to be used for educational, cultural and sporting exchanges.

* Pacific Development and Conservation Trust: $3.2 million, the interest to be used for environmental protection projects and peaceful development in South Pacific.

* Peace and Disarmament Education Trust: $1.5 million, interest to be used for peace studies and fellowships in New Zealand and overseas.

* Pacific Islands trust funds: $630,000, most to reduce Tuvalu's dependence on aid.

* Wellington Police: $350,000 towards a new police launch.

* Anglo-Irish trust fund: $300,000 for development in Northern Ireland.

* Planning Council: $125,000 for study into impact of nuclear war on New Zealand.

* Auckland Harbour Board: $52,700 for mooring costs.

* Cook Islands: $25,000 for seismological facility in Rarotonga.

* Nuclear Free New Zealand pamphlets: $8500 to print a booklet outlining the history and rationale of NZ's anti-nuclear stance.

* Auckland scientist Dr Peter Wills: $2000 for belongings and documents left on the Rainbow Warrior.

- Figures from government sources and Herald files.