To: Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand
Date: 1 May 2020
Tēnā koe Prime Minister
Open letter to the Prime Minister – Aotearoa, a country that holds nature and its people at its heart
The New Zealand Conservation Authority / Te Pou Atawhai Taiao O Aotearoa was established under the Conservation Act 1987, with members appointed by the Minister of Conservation. The Authority has a role as an objective advocate on matters of national significance and interest in the conservation arena. They provide high quality independent advice to the Minister of Conservation and to the Department of Conservation on its strategic direction and performance.
I write to you, on behalf of the full Authority, to support the Minister of Conservation in her proposal to revitalise the economy through nature-based jobs. An investment in nature is an investment in our future at a multitude of levels. This investment will ensure biodiversity gains that will benefit the future of tourism, a greener economy that can adapt to climate change, and meaningful and satisfying work that will provide jobs and wellbeing for many New Zealanders.
The accessibility and ease of creating these conservation jobs is paramount. They will be able to target all regions around Aotearoa, both urban and rural; they do not require the support of major infrastructure and expenditure; and the transferability of skills involved means an immediate start for those that have lost their livelihoods in the sudden collapse of the tourism industry. Moreover, the measurable conservation benefits in the medium to long term will bring us closer to achieving our national goals, such as Predator Free NZ 2050, and our international targets, such as our Paris Agreement emissions target.
In order to prevent future generations from carrying the burden of both the economic fallout of COVID-19 and the devastating effects of climate change, there must be greater consideration given to our responsibility to care for Papatūānuku, and how this care could cushion the effects of both global crises.
Aotearoa is uniquely placed to successfully re-prioritise nature and community in moving forward, and we have the capacity to take guidance from Māori in this time. A re-evaluated approach that integrates mātauranga Māori into New Zealand’s activity and productivity, and that recognises our role as kaitiakitanga in a shared world, will not only benefit the environment and our people, but also offers an exclusive opportunity to improve Treaty relationships.
This moment of reflection, reassessment, and rebuilding is a unique, monumental, and delicate moment in time. We now have the capacity to make great change, beyond a reaction to COVID-19. How we use this opportunity will affect many generations to come.
E noho ora mai
Edward Ellison ONZM