Protecting our native species | WWF New Zealand

Protecting our native species

Northern Royal Albatross. WWF works to protect petrels and albatross in NZ waters, and a host of other threatened native species.
© DOC, Te Papa Atawhai/AE Wright
WWF-New Zealand's vision is for a future where all New Zealand's native species thrive throughout their natural range.
Many of New Zealand’s native species are unique to this country - including dolphins and fur seals, seabirds and land birds.

Many are at risk of extinction because of habitat destruction, pollution, introduced predators and other human-induced threats.

To achieve our vision, WWF campaigns for action to protect New Zealand’s endangered whales, sea lions, dolphins and seabirds, and funds community-based projects.
	© Dave Hansford
Community conservation on Stewart Island is reviving native bird populations such as kaka (pictured) along with the local economy
© Dave Hansford


More than 100 New Zealand communities have joined forces with WWF to protect and restore habitats for native species. 

Through our Habitat Protection Fund (HPF) WWF funds a diverse mix of local projects, led and staffed by conservation-inspired locals.

Projects range from protecting yellow-eyed penguins in Otago, to restoring great spotted kiwi populations in the Paparoa Range, to helping kererū in Wellington recover their numbers.
© Will Rayment

Hector’s and Māui dolphins

Hector’s and Māui dolphins are found only in New Zealand coastal waters and are among the world’s most endangered marine dolphins.

Both are particularly threatened by set net and trawl fishing. WWF-New Zealand has waged a long multi-pronged campaign to save these dolphins from extinction. We engage with political decision makers to ensure adequate legal protection exists for the dolphins throughout their current and historic range. We work with government agencies, researchers and the fishing industry to determine the best conservation and management options.

We work with communities and schools throughout New Zealand to protect the Maui and Hector’s dolphins’ habitat. We engage with the fishing industry to promote the use of practices that don’t harm dolphins.

Everyday, we encourage New Zealanders to let politicians and the fishing industry know they want Maui and Hector’s dolphins to survive and thrive.
Adult shy albatross from the Auckland Islands in flight about 5 miles off Kaikoura Peninsula  rel=
Adult shy albatross from the Auckland Islands in flight about 5 miles off Kaikoura Peninsula
© Peter Langlands


New Zealand is a true ‘hot spot’ for albatrosses,. Nearly half of the world’s 22 albatross species breed here, and many of these breed nowhere else. Yet tens of thousands of seabirds including albatross are killed each year by fishing operations.

Of the species that breed only in New Zealand, the Chatham albatross is listed by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) as 'critically endangered' and the northern royal albatross is 'endangered'. The remaining species are listed as 'vulnerable'.

To stop seabird numbers declining further, WWF is part of Southern Seabird Solutions, which unites fishers, industry, government and WWF in the common cause of saving seabirds. 

Southern Seabird Soultions exists to help fishers fish smarter, ensuring seabird-friendly fishing is practised throughout New Zealand fleets and internationally, so more seabirds return to New Zealand shores safely.
Southern right whale (Eubalaena australis) underwater off the Auckland Islands, New Zealand (sub Antarctic islands).
© Brian J. Skerry / National Geographic Stock / WWF


Even after decades of protection, 7 of the 13 great whale species are still endangered or vulnerable because of people.

While commercial whaling is controversial and makes headlines, we also injure and kill whales, dolphins and porpoises behind the scenes – through collisions with ships, entanglements with fishing gear, and offshore oil and gas developments. And looming on the horizon are the negative effects of climate change, pollution and habitat degradation.

WWF has developed an ambitious conservation programme to significantly reduce the threats to endangered species and populations.
We are also trying to bring whale hunting under the strict control of the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

WWF supports TRAFFIC, our joint wildlife trade monitoring programme with the IUCN. Through TRAFFIC we investigate and monitor the illegal trade in whale meat.
WWF campaigners at dolphin campaign day of action
© Aliscia Young

Be part of our conservation mission

You can help WWF-New Zealand save our species in a number of ways. Become a supporter or make a purchase from our online shop and play a vital role in helping fund our conservation work.

If you're a budding conservationist, you could start a project to protect the native species in your locality. You can apply for funding through WWF's Habitat Protection Fund.

If you would like more information about WWF's campaigns to protect species around the world, go to