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WWF-New Zealand: News

  • Earth Hour 2020: Go Dark for a Brighter Future

    Earth Hour - image of people spelling EARTH HOUR with sparklers<br />© WWF New Zealand

    Mobilising Millions for Nature

    NEW ZEALAND, 5 March 2020 – On Saturday, 28 March at 8:30 p.m., businesses, organisations, cities, and individuals across New Zealand are switching off their lights for one hour for Earth Hour — one of the world's largest grassroots movements for the environment engaging millions of people around the globe in over 180 countries and territories.

    "After a decade long hiatus, Earth Hour is coming back to Aotearoa. As the first nation to mark Earth Hour, let's show the rest of the world how it's done! As an island nation, a food producing nation - a healthy planet is the only way to secure our future. Let us all switch off, to switch on a brighter future!" says WWF-New Zealand CEO Livia Esterhazy.

    Some of the world's most iconic landmarks - the Empire State Building, the Eiffel Tower and the Sydney Opera House - are switching off their lights in solidarity for Earth Hour. From your living room lamp to Auckland's Sky Tower - all are joining thousands of the world's landmarks by 'going dark.'

    2020 is a year of action. It's not just the symbolic action - supporters can also add their voice for nature online at Voice for the Planet. These signatures will be presented to world leaders at critical global conferences taking place this year to help secure a New Deal for Nature and People to address nature loss, reverse environmental decline, and safeguard all of our futures.

    Now, more than ever, it is crucial to raise awareness about the threats facing our environment.

    "The global rate of nature loss during the past 50 years is unprecedented in human history, threatening human lives and well-being," said Marco Lambertini, Director General, WWF International. ''The services provided by nature are estimated to be worth US$125 trillion a year – double the world's GDP - and without nature's resources, the businesses and services we depend on will fail. Nature also benefits us by providing our food, water and clean air, and is one of our strongest allies against climate change. It is vital that we add our Voice for the Planet to press for a New Deal for Nature and People in 2020 for a sustainable future for all."

    You can be a part of shaping history — and our future — by signing up to take part in Earth Hour Aotearoa at Together, it's possible to secure a healthy, sustainable, and fairer future for all.


    A new portrait of Sir David Attenborough is the artwork for his upcoming feature film, David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet.<br />© WWF





    David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet is coming to New Zealand cinemas for one night only. Sir David's new feature film – promising to be his greatest story yet – will be shown in select cinemas across Aotearoa. Tickets are now on sale. For more information on where to see the film, click here

    For decades, the legendary broadcaster has brought the wonders of the natural world into our homes. From every corner of the globe, every habitat, millions of species, Sir David has watched our world evolve. Now, at the age of 93, he presents his most personal project to date: his witness statement to what has changed during his lifetime and his vision for the future.  


    In this unique feature documentary, the celebrated naturalist reflects upon the defining moments of his lifetime and the devastating changes he has seen. Screening in New Zealand cinemas for one night only, April 17, the film addresses some of the biggest challenges facing life on our planet and provides a snapshot of global nature loss in a single lifetime. This accompanies a powerful message of hope for future generations as Attenborough reveals solutions to help save our planet from disaster. 


    His message comes at a critical time, when nature is sounding its alarm, for united action. 


    "Right now, large parts of Aotearoa are in drought, creating tinder-dry conditions. Many of our unique species are facing extinction. As an island nation, a food producing nation, we are reliant on a healthy, resilient environment. But the cumulative impacts of human activities: unsustainable land practices, plastic contamination, overfishing, seabed mining/drilling, and the global climate emergency put us ALL at risk," says Livia Esterhazy, WWF-New Zealand CEO. 


    "But we can not lose hope, because it is possible to chart a new course, a better course, for nature and ourselves. Sir David, through this feature, has given us a roadmap to a resilient future in which people and nature live, and thrive, in harmony," says Esterhazy. 


    The film has been produced by award-winning wildlife film-makers, Silverback Films, and global environmental organisation, WWF. Mark your calendars for Friday, 17 April 2020, when Sir David: A Life On Our Planet will screen for one night only - just hours after its sold-out World Premiere at London's Royal Albert Hall on April 16, which David Attenborough will attend. 

    Sir David Attenborough in Chernobyl, Ukraine photographed while filming David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet.

    Tickets are now on sale in cinemas in New Zealand. For a list of participating cinemas and to register for updates, visit 


    The film will be released globally on Netflix in the Northern Hemisphere spring/Southern Hemisphere autumn in 2020. 


    Link to trailer file/YouTube embed code:

    @DavidALifeFilm #AttenboroughFilm

  • World's biggest polluters held UN climate talks hostage

    Scenes from the climate march in Madrid, held during the CO25 climate talks.<br />© David Fernández - WWF SpainThe longest UNFCCC COP session ever ended Sunday morning with big emitting countries - like the United States, China, India, Japan, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and others - shirking their responsibility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as they blocked progress in Madrid. Despite heartfelt demands for action from vulnerable countries, civil society, and millions of young people around the world demanding immediate climate action, large polluters resisted all efforts to keep global warming below 1.5°C.

    Although described as the 'ambition' COP, what was evident in Madrid was a lack of political will to respond to the science at the necessary scale. Regressive governments put profit over the planetary crisis and the future of generations to come. With the exception of the European Union, the talks showed a complete lack of urgency to act from the big emitting countries.

    The outcome of the talks offers no forward movement on the organisation of a carbon market, respect for human rights, public participation, or financing loss and damage from climate impacts. These countries will have to justify their positions which are increasingly at odds with the science and public opinion.

    Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of WWF's global climate and energy practice said: "Despite the efforts of the Chilean Presidency, the lack of commitment to scale up climate action by big emitting countries was too much to overcome. Their position is in stark contrast to science, rising demands from the streets and the harsh impacts already felt in vulnerable countries.

    "We know what has to be done, and we have run out of time for backtracking or debate. 2020 must be different and we will fight even harder for people and nature. Governments will return home to face increasing frustrations from youth movements, citizens and vulnerable communities suffering from the impacts of the climate crisis, and will have to answer to them.

    "Countries still have the chance to show they are committed to tackling the climate crisis by submitting enhanced climate pledges aligned with science as soon as possible in 2020" he emphasized.

    Our own CEO at WWF-New Zealand, Livia Esterhazy, is similarly disappointed, saying: "Selfish. Is there a better word to describe the behaviour of the world's biggest emitters?

    "The United States, China, India, Japan, Brazil, Saudia Arabia and others are holding the world hostage so they can continue their business as usual. If they want to be considered world leaders they should act like it because our planet is not able to sustain business as usual. Instead it is time for them to be brave, to be selfless, to be true leaders, to listen to the millions of voices pleading for change.

    "2020 must be different...for people and nature."

    For more information contact Caroline Hall Bruner, WWF-New Zealand Media and Content Manager: 021 550 710

  • Better transparency & Better Innovation= #BetterFishing!

    Karl standing on the side of his boat, looking out to sea<br />© Better Fishing

    Napier-based fisherman, Karl Warr, has become the first fisherman in the world to live-stream his catch on the internet. Many fishing vessels are equipped with video monitoring systems but the data is stored for viewing at a later date by particular parties. Karl, Owner of Better Fishing, has taken transparency to the next level by allowing anyone with an internet connection to view how the fish on their plate is caught.

    His vessel is fitted with a standard monitoring system but it has been upgraded by, Nelson- based tech company, SnapIT to allow his video to be live-streamed. SnapIT's technology is equipped with artificial intelligence which will be able to identify individual fish species and classify activities on Karl's vessel.

    Warr says transparent fishing is the way forward for him, both environmentally and financially. The camera, and its associated technology, enables him to demonstrate to consumers his commitment to sustainability and ethical practices, "This technology allows the public to see everything I do on my vessel. My goal is to engage with community and customers as closely as possible by telling the story behind the production of their seafood."

    Transparency, technology, and innovation are vital to a more sustainable fishing industry. Camera on fishing boats make it very hard to hide marine mammals or seabirds dying in fishing nets, and helps deter fish dumping and unethical practices. They also reward fishers who successfully avoid bycatch and engage in best practice. It allows consumers to make an informed decision about what they eat, empowering their choices which will either reward or penalise a fisherman through their wallets.

    WWF has long supported greater transparency in fishing because it leads to more sustainable fisheries management. WWF is proud to support Karl's efforts, "We applaud Karl taking this courageous first step to show the world how fish gets to market. Not every fisherman will be comfortable with a live-stream camera and that's okay. But we hope Karl's brave, groundbreaking move will inspire others to engage in Better Fishing," says Bubba Cook, Western and Central Pacific Tuna Programme Manager for WWF.

    The great news is this technology is available for other fishers to add to their boats, whether they decide to store data on board or take the extra step to live-stream their catch, like Karl.

    For more information and to watch the live stream:

  • WWF-New Zealand and MAUI63 announce innovation in the fight to save Māui dolphins: INTRODUCING MISSION POSSIBLE

    Maui dolphins spotted by a drone<br />© Maui63

    A new tool in the fight to save Māui dolphins from the brink of extinction is here.

    WWF-New Zealand today announced a collaboration with MAUI63 to support their project in which an artificial intelligence-powered unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) will find, follow and provide information to ultimately protect the last remaining 63 Māui dolphins.

    MAUI63 is a small group of scientists, developers, and tech experts dedicated to protecting marine life with the latest technologies. Renowned marine mammal expert Associate Professor Rochelle Constantine, Operational Lead Willy Wang and Technical & Project Lead Tane van der Boon have been trialing, to great success, the UAV technology for the past eighteen months.

    Flying overhead with a 50x optical zoom, the UAV can search for the dolphins for up to six hours. The technology is so sophisticated it can distinguish Māui and Hector's dolphins from other species with over 90% accuracy.

    With this UAV, MAUI63 can compile data on almost anything: dolphin habitat, behaviour, changes in water colour and more. Beyond this application for Māui and Hector's dolphins, the technology has the potential to capture data on many types of marine species such as other dolphins, seabirds and whales.

    Using cutting-edge technology such as drones in conservation is not new. Around the world, WWF support a range of projects where drones are used in conservation. Aerial surveillance is a tried and tested model that delivers myriad benefits in the effort to protect endangered species and natural environments.

    This technology is not years away, it is available now, and it can help us in the race to save the last 63 Māui dolphins.

    WWF is asking New Zealanders to join #teamMaui by helping us raise the $350,000 MAUI63 need to buy and operate this project before the end of the year. This will be a mission, but this is Mission Possible!

    Join teamMaui here

  • WWF praises passing of Zero Carbon Bill

    A photo of people from Zero Carbon Act partner organisations delivering the petition to Scott Simpson MP and Minister James Shaw<br />© WWF-New Zealand / Sarah Meads

    David Tong, WWF Climate Change Programme Manager said:

    "The climate crisis does not care about where you live, who you love, vote for, or how you make your money. Climate Change affects every single person, species and ecosystem on our planet, so solutions require rising above petty political squabbles. The young people of Generation Zero thought so, too. Three years ago, Generation Zero sounded the climate alarm, and all over Aotearoa, people from all walks of life, answered the call. New Zealand's businesses, from large corporations to small start-ups, also joined their fight.

    "Today, over 215 New Zealand businesses, community groups and leaders joined the public to make their voices heard by calling for cross-party consensus. They urged decision makers to unite behind the Zero Carbon Bill. From Southland to the Far North, everyone from farmers to accountants all said- we want this. Together, we can take the politics out of climate action and get on with cutting emissions.

    "We are thrilled Parliament heard our call and passed the Zero Carbon Act. Together, they crossed party lines to unify for our environment. This means businesses and people can now work together on a stable foundation to future proof Aotearoa from the climate crisis. Together, it's possible."

  • WWF-New Zealand, Moana New Zealand and Sanford Ltd Propose New Joint Plan to Save Māui Dolphins

    Maui dolphins<br />© © The University Of Auckland / WWF-New Zealand

    The Threat Management Plan options do not go far enough. We need a bolder option to save Māui and Hector's dolphins. So, New Zealand's most trusted environmental NGO joined forces with two of the country's most prominent commercial fishing companies to respond to the Threat Management Plan, proposing a solution which protects Māui dolphins while taking care of those affected by changing the approach to fishing.

    With New Zealand's native Māui dolphins – some of the rarest in the world – on the verge of extinction, the action announced today by the three partners provides a bold new way to address the desperate situation.

    "The four options, presented by the Government simply do not go far enough. We knew it was essential for all of us to work together to find a better, bolder way to save Māui dolphins. Option 5 was born through our careful collaboration," says WWF-New Zealand CEO Livia Esterhazy.

    "We believe it's not enough to just adequately protect our dolphins. We must also protect our people, industry and communities. Option 5 ensures the people, impacted by the necessary changes to protect dolphins, are protected too."

    Created in partnership by Sanford Ltd, Moana New Zealand and WWF-New Zealand with support from the Endangered Species Foundation, Option 5 builds on the success of the Moana and Sanford Māui Dolphin Protection Plan which they established in 2016.

    Grant Leach, Co-Chair, Endangered Species Foundation says, "Option 5 is the best option for Maui dolphin protection. In our opinion, the other four options do not fully address all the issues required to protect New Zealand's number one most endangered species from extinction.

    "We came on board, to collaboratively work, with WWF-New Zealand because we see that the future of endangered species management is with groups working together to develop effective and workable solutions that can deliver results in the timeframes required."

    Sanford Limited CEO Volker Kuntzsch says the welfare of Maui dolphins is a top priority for New Zealand's biggest seafood company.

    "We believe the worst thing that can happen at Sanford is a human fatality and the second worst would be the death of a Maui dolphin. We have been focused on reducing the risk to these precious animals for many years now and the TMP process has provided us with an opportunity to refresh and expand the work we are doing, and the commitments we have made."

    Moana New Zealand CEO Steve Tarrant says "Option 5 is the start of an action plan the Government can put to immediate effect and has the potential to put New Zealand in a world-leading position. Our measures to protect both dolphins and people go further than ever before."

    These management measures are primarily focused on the critically endangered Māui dolphins, but WWF believes these solutions will also positively benefit Hector's dolphins, as well. This includes:

    • implementation of new systems to help gather the much needed data and information while allow for real-time information sharing and best practice decision making;
    • new practices the Option 5 fishing partners are ready to roll out across their fishing vessels and their contractors to integrate management and science so as to reduce any residual risk to Māui dolphins; and
    • implementing new dolphin-safe education programs to complement those already running in aquaculture hosted by DOC to ensure our teams on the water are as well-trained, correctly informed and highly skilled in dolphin-safe fishing as possible.
    • Addressing Toxoplasmosis. Creating critical research infrastructure to tackle the effects of Toxoplasmosis on dolphins and people.

    WWF-New Zealand's CEO says including people into the plan was essential.

    "WWF's mission is to enable people to live in harmony with nature. Option 5 is about people as much as it is about dolphins. Lives are at stake – the lives of these rare dolphins and the lives and livelihoods of people. Every decision made by the TMP will impact businesses, communities, iwi, hapu, whanau, and individuals. Therefore, we have no choice but to move forward with a plan which addresses the needs of all of those affected."

    Mr Kuntzsch says the 'Option 5' submission has been the result of a great deal of hard work.

    "We are very proud of what has been produced and the way in which Moana, WWF and Sanford have worked together to do it. The final document captures the essence of what we believe needs to be done and in some areas it stretches our comfort zone in order to find a compromise between all three parties."

    Steve Tarrant acknowledges that some people may find the partnership response to the TMP a surprise, but says he believes it is the best way to make progress.

    "We absolutely believe it is only when we work together that we can achieve what we need to make change. We are making a big commitment here and the focus is on both protecting Maui dolphins and people. We are not trying to tell the rest of the industry what to do, but we hope that our actions will reduce the risk to dolphins."

    Mr Kuntzsch agrees.

    "This process required courage and compromise, but we believe what we have come out with in the end is a positive way forward for the protection of New Zealand's rare dolphins and also of the people who fish near where these dolphins are found. As Livia has said, both need to be taken care of and that's what we are striving to do. WWF and Moana share the core values we have at Sanford – we all approached this exercise with plenty of passion, care and integrity and with a focus on doing the right thing both on the water and on land."

    Livia Esterhazy, CEO WWF-New Zealand

    Steve Tarrant, CEO Moana New Zealand

    Volker Kuntzsch, CEO Sanford Ltd

    With support of Grant Leach and Rose Hiha-Agnew as joint-chairs of contributing partner Endangered Species Foundation.

    The full joint submission is available to view here.

  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says Kaitiakitanga is our duty

    Screenshot of Our Planet Visionaries film featuring Jacinda Ardern<br />© Our Planet

    Speaking as one of the Our Planet: Visionaries*, Prime Minister Ardern said, "There is something very special about the way New Zealanders regard their environment. That sense of Kiatiakitanga - guardianship - that we do have this duty to leave our part of the world, indeed the world itself, better than we found it."

    Netflix, in collaboration with WWF, released Our Planet at this critical time- as every creature, citizen, and country on earth face threats like never before. Recent figures [2], from WWF's Living Planet Report 2018, shows global populations of vertebrate species have, on average, declined by 60 per cent since 1970. But it's not just wildlife that's negatively affected by climate change, humans also live under threat of extinction. WWF believes this global dilemma can be solved with a global response.

    "In 50 years time, I hope we look back and say, we took on the greatest environmental challenges of our time and we won. We just changed the way we lived, that we changed our outlook on the use of fossil fuels, that we fundamentally transitioned our economy and that we are all the better for it." says Prime Minister Ardern.

    WWF-New Zealand CEO Livia Esterhazy said, "We know the science says urgent action is required to save our planet. We know we need to change the way we live, not just for ourselves but for our mokopuna's tomorrow. We know together it's possible to reverse the damage we have caused. And we know we need real leadership to make this happen. We echo the Prime Minister's vision for New Zealand and the World's future."

    Go to to find out how you can help our planet to thrive again, add your voice to the call for urgent action, make a pledge to change the way you live, and explore our astonishing planet. Follow Our Planet on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and be part of the conversation with #ShareOurPlanet.

  • Revealed: plastic ingestion by people could be equating to a credit card a week

    Are you eating a credit card of plastic a week?<br />© WWF-Singapore

    A new study finds on average people could be ingesting approximately 5 grams of plastic every week, which is the equivalent weight of a credit card. The analysis No Plastic in Nature: Assessing Plastic Ingestion from Nature to People prepared by Dalberg, based on a study commissioned by WWF and carried out by University of Newcastle, Australia, suggests people are consuming about 2000 tiny pieces of plastic every week. That's approximately 21 grams a month, just over 250 grams a year.

    The University of Newcastle is the first global analysis to combine data from over 50 studies on the ingestion of microplastics by people. The findings are an important step towards understanding the impact of plastic pollution on humans. It also further confirms the urgent need to address the plastic system so that it does not pollute ecosystems in the first place.

    "These findings must serve as a wake-up call to governments.  Not only are plastics polluting our oceans and waterways and killing marine life - it's in all of us and we can't escape consuming plastics. Global action is urgent and essential to tackling this crisis," said Marco Lambertini, WWF International Director General

    "While research is investigating potential negative effects of plastic on human health, we are all clear that this is a worldwide problem that can only be solved by addressing the root cause of plastic pollution. If we don't want plastic in our bodies, we need to stop the millions of tons of plastic that continue leaking into nature every year. In order to tackle the plastic crisis, we need urgent action at government, business and consumer levels, and a global treaty with global targets to address plastic pollution," continued Lambertini.

    The study demonstrated a wide range in ingestion patterns. Whilst being mindful of the limitations of this evolving field of research, initial findings point towards a global average ingestion rate of plastic by humans of approximately 5 grams per week.

    The single largest source of plastic ingestion is through water, both bottled and tap, all over the world. Large regional variations are reflected again, with twice as much plastic found in the US or India than in European or Indonesian water. Of the consumables studied,  those with the highest recorded plastic levels include shellfish, beer and salt. The findings of the report demonstrate that the problem of plastic pollution is a universal one and directly affecting people. Leakage of plastic into our environment and food chain has been met so far with an inadequate global response by governments.

    No Plastic in Nature: Assessing Plastic Ingestion from Nature to People calls for governments to step up and play a key role in ensuring the entire chain in the plastic system, from manufacturers to consumers, are held accountable to the common goal of ending plastic pollution. WWF is mobilising the public to support the global petition calling for a legally binding treaty on marine plastics pollution that has already garnered over 500,000 signatures.  The treaty would establish national targets and transparent reporting mechanisms that extend to companies. Additionally, the treaty should provide for financial and technical support for low-income countries to scale up their waste management capacity.

    "While the awareness of microplastics and their impact on the environment is increasing, this study has helped to provide an accurate calculation of ingestion rates for the first time. Developing a method for transforming counts of microplastic particles into masses will help determine the potential toxicological risks for humans moving forward,"  comments  Dr Thava Palanisami, project co-lead and microplastics researcher at the University of Newcastle.

    Ingestion is just one aspect of a much wider plastics crisis. Plastic pollution is a major threat to wildlife, not only through microplastic ingestion but via entanglement and habitat destruction. Plastic pollution also has damaging economic consequences, with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) estimating its annual economic impact on the ocean economy at US$8 billion.

  • Bayswater Primary Students Dive to the Bottom of the Hauraki Gulf for World Oceans Day

    BLAKE NZ-VR school visit<br />© BLAKE

    "Just look at the world around you, right here on the ocean floor, such wonderful things surround you, what more is you lookin' for?" – Sebastian, The Little Mermaid

    Diving deep below the Ocean's waves, the children of Bayswater Primary School, swam through a school of trevally, raced with dolphins, and explored the depths of the Hauraki Gulf. While, WWF-New Zealand and BLAKE (formerly known as the Sir Peter Blake Trust) couldn't bring the students of Bayswater to the ocean, they are working together to bring the Ocean to them. BLAKE selected Bayswater School to celebrate this year's World Oceans Day as it was Sir Peter Blake's primary school.

    The students were able to enjoy a totally immersive ocean experience through the BLAKE NZ-VR programme: a virtual reality experience with 360 degree views filmed by New Zealand Geographic and supported by WWF-New Zealand. Experiencing pristine marine environments as well as the damage done to the ecosystem allows children to see, first-hand, the majesty of our oceans and how important it is to protect and restore the seabed, the ocean and the lands around it.

    The eco-tour emphasises our responsibilities, as citizens, to our lands and seas. WWF-New Zealand Ocean Programme Manager, Lucy Jacob, says "Our partnership with Blake and NZ Geographic provides a fantastic opportunity to bring the ocean to the people. Not only is this an incredible experience for the kids, but it helps build young ocean guardians who care about protecting our marine resources."

    These virtual explorations, connect Kiwis to parts of Aotearoa to which they may not have access, promotes understanding, engagement, and a deeper sense of kaitiakitanga over our natural world.

    BLAKE Chief Executive James Gibson says, "The BLAKE NZ-VR programme aims to connect thousands of young Kiwis with the marine environment. Most young people have never experienced what's under the surface of our ocean. Through virtual reality, we can take the ocean into the classroom."

    To learn more about BLAKE NZ-VR and how your school can benefit. Take a look at it here

    For images from the day please look here.

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