Lake Waikaremoana
Lake Waikaremoana

Conservation Week: 10 Questions with James Shaw

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.

  1. What’s your first Conservation memory? How did you first become involved in conservation?
    Like a lot of Kiwis, my first experience with conservation was through hiking around Lake Waikaremoana and Tongariro National Park with my family. The magic of those places really awoke in me a passion for our wild places.
  2. What’s your favourite DOC hut? DOC campground? And why
    The Panekire Hut is my favourite DOC hut, perhaps because it sits at the top of an incredibly strenuous clamber up the Panekire Bluff (at least it was strenuous for an eleven-year-old, which was how old I was when I did it!). I was so relieved to get there I thought I’d discovered Shangri-La.
  3. What’s your favourite spot of land protected by DoC and why?
    Milford Sound is my favourite DOC protected spot. It’s an extraordinary and iconic place. I love the sheer drama of the mountains as they drop deep into the Sound.
  4. What’s your favourite endangered NZ species, and why?
    If the last 124 Kakapo were to disappear that would be a terrible tragedy for Aotearoa.

    fantail piwakawaka
    fantail piwakawaka
  5. What’s NZ’s cutest native species?
    The Piwakawaka is I think the cutest native bird – my wife and I adopted it symbolically when we were married.
  6. What is a conservation effort you’ve been proud to be a part of?
    I was proud to have participated in the Forest & Bird ‘Bird of the Year’ – and I think it’s a terrific way of engaging a broad cross-section of the public in New Zealand’s conservation efforts.
  7. What do you see as the number one threat facing endangered NZ species?
    The number one threat facing New Zealand’s endangered species is the threat of ground-based predators – which is why I really want the Government to properly fund the effort to make Aotearoa predator free by 2050, preferably by a levy on international visitors, such as we outlined with our Taonga Levy proposal.
  8. How will you be celebrating Conservation Week?
    I’m going to be celebrating Conservation Week by challenging the Government on their record of cutting DOC’s funding, and recommitting the Green Party to restoring DOC’s funding to at least pre-National Government levels.
  9. My favourite movie about conservation?
    I went to see Gorillas in the Mist on the big screen when I was a teenager and was hugely influenced by it. It’s an incredibly beautiful and poignant film and it formed a big part of my commitment to nature and conservation efforts here and around the world.
  10. Thoughts on Conservation Week?
    Get involved!

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