Long Tailed Bat

Ruataniwha Redux: Defending Nature from the Conservation Minister

Right now, Forest and Bird are in the Supreme Court defending a challenge from the Minister of Conservation, Maggie Barry. The Minister wants to remove the protected status of 22 hectares of Forest Park land in order to allow it to be flooded for the Ruataniwha irrigation dam to go ahead.

Think about that for a moment.

The Minister for Conservation – the very person who is charged with protecting conservation land – is using public money to go all the way to the Supreme Court to gain the right to remove the protected status of Forest Park land in order to trade it away to benefit private commercial interests.

The land in question is home to species like the long-tailed bat. Official listed as “threatened” our native bats are one of New Zealand’s only land mammals – and are so tiny they can fit in the palm of your hand.

Map of Land Swap above proposed Ruataniwha Dam Site
Department of Conservation map showing a land swap proposed by developers of the Ruataniwha dam. Source: stuff.co.nz

This is a critical case.

If the Minister were to win, that would have huge ramifications for the protected status of over a million hectares of conservation land throughout Aotearoa.

The hard fought protections for our conservation land must not be undermined like this.

Aotearoa deserves a Minister of Conservation who will stand up for conservation land, not pander to developers and corporations.

In the meantime, Forest and Bird deserve an Oscar award for their tireless work defending nature.

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