Gareth Hughes Akaroa Dive
Gareth Hughes Akaroa Dive

Conservation Week: 10 Questions with Gareth Hughes

This week is Conservation Week. The overarching theme for Conservation Week is ‘Healthy Nature Healthy People’. It encourages people to become aware of the link between a healthy natural environment and their own health. We all benefit from conservation, so we all must play a part in protecting our future.

10 Conservation Questions with Green MP Gareth Hughes

  1. What’s your first conservation memory?
    Growing up in Gisborne our school trips were to Te Urewera National Park and beautiful Lake Waikaremoana.
  2. What’s your favourite Department of Conservation (DoC) spot?
    Lake Waikaremoana is such a special place to my family.

    Lake Waikaremoana
    Lake Waikaremoana
  3. What’s your favourite spot of land protected by DoC and why?
    It’s hard to choose and DoC isn’t just about land, it’s about protecting our waters too. A favourite of mine is Cape Rodney-Okakari Point Marine Reserve, also known as Goat Island, which was Aotearoa’s first marine reserve and a stunning place to snorkel.
  4. What’s your favourite endangered NZ species, and why?
    Probably the Maui’s dolphin – the world’s smallest, rarest and I’d wager cutest dolphin. For years I’ve advocated for this amazing species and it’s frustrating that the Government could do tomorrow what’s necessary to protect it but sadly it refuses.

    Maui's Dolphin
    Maui’s Dolphin
  5. What’s NZ’s strangest native species? 
    Probably the Blobfish, which the name says it all! Before Parliament I sailed on the Rainbow Warrior working on Greenpeace’s deep sea bottom trawling campaign and while the Blobfish isn’t as cute as the Maui’s dolphin, it and its habitat still deserves our protection. I wrote a little about this ‘interesting’ species on the Green blog:

  6. What is a conservation effort you’ve been proud to be a part of?
    Pushing for the expanded Kermadec Marine Sanctuary. Alongside conservation groups I campaigned for this massive reserve and it’s fantastic our pressure saw the Government commit to enacting it.
  7. What’s the top thing NZ could take to improve conservation efforts?
    We’ve got to fund it properly because there’s so much to be done.
  8. What do you see as the number one threat facing endangered NZ species?
    A lack of love from the Government – they’ve deprioritised it, underfunded it, corporatised it, but our environment is the heart of our economy and the basis of our prosperity.
  9. In the place you live, what are some local groups doing good conservation work?
    I think Wellington’s Backyard Sanctuaries does great work and helps locals undertake pest reduction work. It’s something my family has signed up for and we’re excited about making our little bit of Wellington a sanctuary.
  10. Favourite film, documentary, novel, or TV show with a conservation theme?
    It’s been special to grow up on David Attenborough documentaries and then share them with my two kids as an adult. They absolutely adore him and he’s a true global icon and inspiration.

More information on Conservation Week 2016

  • Check out the Department of Conservation website here
  • Find a Conservation Week event here
  • Join the conversation about conservation on social media using this hashtag #conservationweek