New Zealand has joined Australia in questioning the validity of Japan's whaling for scientific purposes in the Southern Ocean, Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully announced this afternoon.

New Zealand lodged an intervention before the United Nations' International Court of Justice (ICJ) this week, joining an Australian lawsuit which was filed at The Hague in 2010.

Mr McCully said the intervention allowed New Zealand, which was not party to the proceedings, to put its legal views before the court.

The intervention related to international conventions on whaling which allowed countries to attain a special permit for killing whales for scientific research.


Mr McCully said: "As a member of the International Whaling Commission, New Zealand has an interest in ensuring that the IWC works effectively and that the Whaling Convention is properly interpreted and applied."

He said he was disappointed that New Zealand had been forced to pursue its interests in international court because diplomatic iniatives had failed to stop Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean.

"New Zealand has worked hard with Japan for over three years to try and find a permanent solution to whaling in the Southern Ocean.

"The government will continue to use all avenues possible to try to bring a halt to Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean."

In 2010, Mr McCully said Australia had asked New Zealand not to file as a party because there was a New Zealand judge on the ICJ.

A joint action would have meant Australia lost its entitlement to appoint a judge for the case.

Green Party oceans spokesman Gareth Hughes welcomed the decision, saying that most New Zealanders "knew" that the research was a guise for commercial whaling.