NZCA Chair, Edward Ellison ONZM, gives an update on the latest meeting.

New Zealand Conservation Authority meeting December 2020

The New Zealand Conservation Authority held its latest meeting in Wellington on Thursday 10 and Friday 11 December, the last meeting of this most unique year.

Minister of Conservation

Hon Kiritapu Allan (Minister of Conservation) was welcomed to the meeting, where she noted her excitement to attend, and recognised the Authority’s role as her trusted advisors. The Minister and Authority members discussed topics including: the resourcing and implementation of the Aotearoa New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy; the future of a sustainable and regenerative tourism industry; the need to ensure Jobs for Nature delivers enduring projects and results at place; the possibility of legislative reform; the need to better integrate land and sea; and, the work to be done by the Department in operationalising the implications of the Ngāi Tai ki Tamaki decision.

The Authority was delighted to meet with the new Minister, and both were pleased by the clear alignment of priorities. We look forward to this work moving forward.

Director-General’s report

Lou Sanson (DOC Director-General) was present to answer questions on operational matters that occurred at DOC during the October to November 2020 period. Lou’s written report covered topics including: Jobs for Nature; an update on the Raukumara Pae Maunga Restoration Project; Lake Daniell Track; the Bay of Islands Marine Mammal Sanctuary; an introduction to DOC’s Annual Report 2019-20; the Science System review; the new post-graduate scholarships for conservation research; an update on the Otago CMS partial review and the Te Hiku o Te Ika CMS; an introduction to NIWA as DOC’s new Weather Forecasting supplier; and, the Government’s target of a carbon neutral public service by 2025.

Discussions with Authority members included: the need for increased focus on the marine space, establishing stronger treaty relationships at place, and the standards of concessions received by the West Coast Tai Poutini Conservation Board. Lou raised the increasing fire risk associated with climate change as a concern for the Department, and discussed the role of Fire and Emergency NZ within this.

Climate Change and sustainability

Rachel Bruce (DOC DD-G Corporate Services) and Ken Hughey (DOC Chief Science Advisor) provided a succinct presentation on the Department’s strategy for climate change after the Government’s declaration of climate emergency, and target for a carbon neutral public service by 2025. Rachel stressed that this reduction in carbon impact must be genuine; the Department will not transfer the use of carbon by outsourcing.

Science System and Principal Advisor Science Investment

Katrin Webb (DOC Principal Advisor Science Investment - PASI), Susanne Becken, (DOC PASI), and Ken Hughey (DOC Chief Science Advisor), lead an engaging presentation on NZ’s Science System and the role of the Department’s PASIs.

There was extensive discussion around the funding system for science in New Zealand, the evolving role and approach to science, and the recent PCE Report: A review of the funding and prioritisation of environmental research in New Zealand, released 9 December.

General Policies partial review update

Kayla Kingdon-Bebb (DOC Director Policy), and Kimba Stainton-Herbert (DOC Senior Policy Advisor) provided an update on the work of the Options Development Group (ODG). The ODG has identified four workstreams: treaty responsibilities framework; partnership; customary use and access; and, mātauranga and biodiversity, and will be working in four groups to explore these. ODG recommendations are expected in the first quarter of 2021.

NZCA strategic directions

One of the functions of the Authority under section 6B(1)(h) of the Conservation Act 1987 is to advise the Minister and the Director-General annually on priorities for the expenditure of money. At this meeting, the Authority decided on 10 priorities for the Department’s budget allocation in 2021-22. These will be shared with the boards in the New Year, once the Minister has had time to reflect on them.

Next Authority Meeting

The next meeting of the Authority will be held in Wellington on 18 and 19 February 2021.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your mahi throughout this year. It has been unusually challenging, but I believe fundamental for the required cultural shift towards an environmentally sustainable and culturally sensitive future.

I am pleased to wish you all Meri Kirihimete and a restful break, so that we may return in the New Year fresh and ready to tackle the challenges of the year ahead.

No reira
E noho ora mai

Edward Ellison ONZM
Chairperson NZCA

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