Only 55 adult Maui dolphins are left in this world, and yesterday demonstrators took to the streets to try to get Parliament to save them.

Adults and children alike took part in the peaceful rally for the animals - the rarest in the world - from Wellington's Allen St to Parliament buildings, each showing their support in different ways.

Kayley Ngawati and Tehani Buchanan painted their message across their bodies, while young Jayah Kinsman, 3, dressed in blue and clutched a dolphin toy.

Protesters urged politicians to use emergency powers to stop the use of set nets to catch fish in coastal waters.

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Once trapped, the air-breathing mammals may tear fins, break teeth and sustain deep cuts to their bodies in their furious attempt to free themselves. Eventually, the dolphins run out of oxygen, suffocate and die.

The protesters handed out submissions to be sent to the Government and heard speeches from marine biologists, scientists, Dr Liz Slooten of the University of Otago and Green MP Gareth Hughes.