World's Rarest Marine Mammal
Aotea Harbour, Aotearoa ~ New Zealand

Kaumātua, John Apiti and Kaitiaki, Davis Apiti talk with Pio Terei about the Maui's Dolphin

Acknowledgement to AKA Productions

Click HERE to read the Waitangi Tribunal Priority Report Concerning Maui's Dolphin based on Davis Apiti's claim on behalf of Ngati Te Wehi (Wai 2331)
RADIO WAATEA  INTERVIEW
DAVIS APITI TALKING ABOUT THE PLIGHT OF THE MAUI'S DOLPHIN

Click on the arrow above to listen to audio of Dale Husband from Radio Waatea interviewing Davis Apiti

Maui's dolphin used to be known as the North Island Hector's dolphin. Recent research has recognised that the North Island dolphins are genetically different from Hector's dolphins found around the South Island and Maui's dolphin is now classified as a separate sub-species. On this webpage you will notice reference to both the North Island Hector's Dolphin and Maui's Dolphin, which is one and the same animal (also known as Māui Dolphins)
photo credit: mission-blue.org

Photo Credit: dolphinnz via mission-blue.org

CRITICALLY ENDANGERED NEW ZEALAND DOLPHINS 
– WE HAVE TO ACT NOW
July 9, 2019 - By Shannon Rake
For the sake of the nearly extinct Hector’s and Māui dolphins, please urge the New Zealand government to ban all gillnets and trawl nets up to the 100 meter depth contour as recommended by the IUCN and the scientific community.
The Hector’s and Māui Dolphins Threat Management Plan laid out by the Government of New Zealand DOES NOT provide for adequate or effective protections for these highly vulnerable species. Please join us in calling to ban all gillnets and trawl nets up to the 100 meter depth contour.
If you have 20 seconds right now, PLEASE use this pre-filled form and make your public comment here. This comment not only calls for the ban on all gillnets and trawl nets up to the 100 meter depth contour, but also calls for several other commonsense actions that would go far to help save these species from extinction. Once again, you can do this by clicking here. Every comment counts.
New Zealand is a country with less than 5 million people, it is less populated than the greater San Francisco Bay Area and yet it has amazing biodiversity and species that can be found nowhere else in the world. Most non-New Zealanders know of the Kiwi, a flightless bird native only to New Zealand, but many may not have heard of the Māui and Hector’s dolphins. Both can only be found in the coastal waters of New Zealand, a Mission Blue Hope Spot. The Māui dolphin (the north island subspecies) is critically endangered with around 50 individuals left and holds the unwanted position of being one of the most endangered dolphins on the planet. The Hector’s dolphin (the south island subspecies) is endangered with an estimate of about 10,000 individuals, however some sub-populations have less than 200 individuals.

Dr. Sylvia Earle Discusses the New Zealand Coastal Waters Hope Spot

The dolphins’ numbers have declined drastically over the last four decades due to fisheries bycatch. The dolphins become trapped in gillnets and trawl nets and ultimately drown. For the last 15 years, Hope Spot Champions Professor Liz Slooten and Dr. Barbara Maas have been working to bring together NGOs across the globe to fight for the protection of the dolphins by banning gillnets and trawl nets in the dolphins’ habitat. In 2012 at the World Conservation Congress, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) issued recommendation 142 urging the New Zealand government to ban gillnet and trawl net use from the shoreline to the 100 meter depth contour in all areas where the Hector’s and Māui dolphins are found. As of today, over seven years after the IUCN issued this recommendation, the New Zealand government has neither accepted nor implemented it.
Professor Liz Slooten has dedicated 30 years studying the Māui and Hector’s dolphins and is the foremost expert on the dolphins. She says, “Reducing the amount of gillnet and trawl fishing in dolphin habitat is known to work. In two areas where long-term research has been carried out, by Otago University and Auckland University, the population was declining rapidly before partial protection and is now stable or slowly declining. Unfortunately, the last few attempts at protecting these dolphins created protected areas that were far too small, followed by research showing that protection is still not effective. This time it is critical that we get it right. The Māui dolphin and several of the smallest Hector’s dolphin populations simply won’t make it one more time around this protection and research merry go ‘round.”
The Māori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, view the Māui dolphin as a “taonga” (treasure) and have been challenging the government’s handling of Māui conservation. Davis Apiti of Ngati Te Wehi says, “In the past 15 years, Ngati Te Wehi has been to protect this special taonga and it feels like it has been falling on deaf ears. There seems to be lots of stakeholder meetings, consultation hui and still the dolphins are declining. It has been interesting to see that there is more political voice from outside New Zealand, which is damaging our environmental reputation to the rest of the world. We have always asked for a sanctuary and a ban of trawling and gillnetting but it seems like MPI has more of a say in our own area than we do as tangata whenua. For these reasons, that is why we have put in a treaty claim and have pushed for an urgent hearing. We have lost faith in the government to protect this endemic taonga.” In May of 2016 the New Zealand High Court rejected a challenge over the government’s handling of Māui dolphin conservation by Ngati Te Wehi and Ngati Tahinga, two Maori communities.
New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and Department of Conservation (DOC) have just released a risk analysis for the Māui and Hector’s dolphins and public discussion document, giving everyone a chance to choose among options for better dolphin protection. The MPI analysis claims that the biggest contributor to the dolphin’s deaths is disease. This analysis has been refuted by the scientific community at large who stand staunchly behind research that has unequivocally shown that the primary cause of death is due to fisheries bycatch. The Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) has also reviewed the dolphins’ plight, expressing continued grave concerns about the Māui dolphin, which is teetering on the cusp of extinction. Amazingly, this is also the eighth year in a row that the IWC Scientific Committee has urged the New Zealand government to remove all gillnets and trawling from the dolphin’s habitat. Dr. Barbara Maas explains, “We only have a short window to fix this. Miss it and Māui and Hector’s dolphins will vanish forever. This is a straightforward and easily resolvable conservation problem. Threatened dolphins don’t mix with gillnets and trawl nets. You simply can’t have both in the same area. While the fishermen can move, the dolphins cannot. There is only one option, if we want to save Māui and Hector’s dolphins, and it is not even represented in the government’s Draft Threat Management Plan. Without strong global public support, New Zealand’s forgotten dolphins simply won’t make it.”
With overwhelming public support from both New Zealand citizens and the global community, as well as increasingly strong urging from the scientific community, the time to act to protect these dolphins is now. “We only have once chance to get it right with the Hector’s and Māui dolphins,” said Dr. Sylvia Earle. “Perhaps we can all come together and do what it takes to keep these magnificent and rare dolphins away from the brink of extinction.”
Please urge the New Zealand government to ban all gillnets and trawl nets up to the 100 meter depth contour as recommended by the IUCN and the scientific community. Please make your public comment here
NZ’s Waters Declared Hope Spot to Protect 
Last Maui Dolphins
Tuesday, 27 November 2018, 9:48 am
Press Release: NABU International - Foundation for Nature
New Zealand’s coastal waters have today been declared a marine Hope Spot by international conservation alliance Mission Blue. Dr Barbara Maas from the German conservation group NABU International Conservation Foundation together with New Zealand dolphin expert Prof. Elisabeth Slooten from the University of Otago had championed the recognition of the area as a Hope Spot in support of urgent protection measures to prevent the extinction of Māui and Hector’s dolphins. The announcement comes on the day the New Zealand Department of Conservation and Ministry of Primary Industries meet in Auckland to discuss urgent new protection measures for the species.
The new Hope Spot covers most of New Zealand’s more than 17,000 km coastline up to a depth of 100 meters. It ranges from subtropical in the north to subantarctic in the south and features spectacles of outstanding natural beauty both above and below the water line. These rich waters also boast a spectacular variety of marine species, many of which are rare and can be found nowhere else. New Zealand sea lions, yellow-eyed and little blue penguins, fairy terns, Buller’s and Royal albatross, as well as population of at least 718 pygmy blue whales that was only recently confirmed as a New Zealand resident. It also touches the migratory paths of some of the great whales, as well as long-finned pilot whales, white sharks, basking sharks and spinetail devil rays. Māui and Hector’s dolphins in particular have captured the hearts of New Zealanders and the international community alike. They have also drawn increasing worldwide attention, as scientists watched their numbers decline sharply since the 1970s. Māui dolphins are now the rarest marine dolphins on Earth.
NABU International vice president Thomas Tennhardt welcomes the news. "We have been campaigning for a ban on gillnets and trawlers and an end to oil and gas exploration and extraction in the dolphins’ habitat in concert with international scientific institutions, for years. Under the motto ‘One for all! All for one!’, our Hope Spot is intended to help put in place long overdue measures to protect these unique waters and facilitate the dolphins’ recovery before it’s too late.”
"Although there are only around 50 Māui dolphins left, just 19 percent of their habitat is protected from fishing with gillnets and just five percent from trawling," explains Dr Barbara Maas, Head of Endangered Species Conservation at NABU International. "Under these conditions, the dolphins’ extinction is inevitable and time is running out.”
“We are grateful for the support for this species from across the world, including New Zealand conservation groups Our Seas Our Future Charitable Trust, the New Zealand Whale and Dolphin Trust and Maori group Ngati Te Wehi,” says Maas. New Zealand has a reputation as a leader in cetacean conservation, biodiversity protection and sustainability. It is time for the government to bring protection measures for its only endemic dolphin into line with international scientific advice, or risk its credibility.”
World renowned oceanographer Dr Sylvia Earle first launched the Hope Spots programme in 2009 to generate public support for a global network of marine protected areas. While around 12 percent of the world's land area enjoys some form of protection, less than six percent of the ocean is protected in any way. Hope Spots are intended to bring about a significant increase in ocean protection from less than 6% today to 30% by the year 2030.
“We only have one chance to get it right with the Hector’s and Māui dolphins – and that time is now,” said Dr Sylvia Earle. “With the declaration of New Zealand’s Coastal Waters as a Mission Blue Hope Spot, perhaps we can all come together and do what it takes to keep these magnificent and rare dolphins away from the brink of extinction.”
Global Focus on Dolphin
Waitomo News, 27 November 2018
Claimant worried future of Maui's dolphin critical
Davis Apiti has serious concerns about the the Maui's dolphin. Photo: KELLY HODEL / FAIRFAX NZ

Davis Apiti has serious concerns about the the Maui's dolphin.  Photo: KELLY HODEL / FAIRFAX NZ

Waikato Times, Elton Rikihana Smallman - 15:50, May 19 2016
The man behind a Maui's dolphin Treaty claim wants the Waitangi Tribunal to reassess its findings after allegations of a government cover-up.
In April, the tribunal rejected a claim the Crown's policy on the protection of the endangered dolphin does not breach the Treaty of Waitangi.
It's given rise to "grave concerns", but was no surprise, said Aotea Harbour environmentalist Davis Apiti, who brought the claim.
But that knockback has been compounded by claims from German environmental group NABU International that the Ministry of Primary Fisheries covered up the death of a Maui's dolphin in 2013.
The government department denies the allegations.
Apiti wants the tribunal to look into his claim again.
"Now it has to go to urgency," Apiti said. "The tribunal has to relook at what's happening and weigh it up now because this is really critical.
"It's not about Maori interests any more, it's not about the money. It's about protecting that taonga."
The tribunal found the Maui's dolphin is a taonga to Ngāti Te Wehi and Tahinga, two hapū at Aotea Harbour on Waikato's west coast, due to its endangered status.
Only 55 Maui's dolphin over the age of one year remain in the wild, according to Department of Conservation estimates.
Hapū status as kaitiaki for the dolphin deserves active protection by the Crown, the tribunal found, but the Crown's process in developing the 2013 Threat Management Plan for the dolphin did not lack good faith and was not unreasonable.
With the claim of a cover-up coming to light, Apiti is worried and he's calling again for a Maui dolphin sanctuary out to 20 nautical miles from shore.
"We told them 15 years ago it should have been 20 nautical miles and now they need to implement that 20 nautical mile zone and look for areas where they are and put sanctuaries in there."
The government has to step in and help the hapu protect the dolphin, Apiti said.
"It's not about words, it's not about pieces of paper. It's about ground work stuff. We need to be out on the water, we need to be looking at how we can monitor those dolphins."

Oil licenses further threaten dolphins
Waatea News, 31 March 2015
(Note: Hector's Dolphin should read Maui's Dolphin)
A kaitiaki of the Aotea Harbor says the inclusion of Hector’s Dolphin habitat in zones licensed for oil exploration shows how little the Government cares about the endangered species.
Three onshore areas and four offshore areas are included in the 2015 Block Offer announced this week, including an area off north Taranaki and the Waikato coast.
Davis Apiti from Ngāti Te Wehi says that includes part of an areas inhabited by some of the remaining 55 of the dolphins, less than half the population when the iwi started fighting for their protection 15 years ago.
The iwi wants a 250 nautical mile fishing exclusion zone from Raukumara near Aotea Harbour to Taranaki Point near Raglan and including Gannet Island, an important breeding site for NZ fur seals.
He says it seems no one will be held accountable if the dolphins become extinct.
Davis Apiti says Ngāti Te Wehi wants the Waitangi Tribunal to hear its claim that failure to protect the dolphins a breach of the treaty.
Maui's Dolphin Feature on Māori Television
Acknowledgement to Māori Television current affairs programme, Te Heteri and host, Wena Harawira. Features Ngati Te Wehi's efforts to conserve the Maui's Dolphins
SAVE MAUI'S DOLPHIN - ONLY 55 LEFT
Maui's Dolphin Campaign visit to Kawhia by KASM and Surfers for Cetaceans. Maui's Dolphin Basketball Team supporting the protection and conservation of our precious Kiwis of the Sea. There are only an estimated 55 of these taonga (special treasure) left. Photos by Davis Apiti. Acknowledgement to Liz Slooten for footage. Music Acknowledgement: Fix You - Coldplay - Acoustic Cover by Tyler Ward & Boyce Avenue
CRITICALLY ENDANGERED MAUI'S DOLPHIN
This video was compiled by Davis Apiti and presented at the 2013 Waitangi Hearing about the plight of the Maui's Dolphin. 
Acknowledgement to the Tangaroa Show, Te Heteri Current Events Show, and Beyond the Kelp Documentary.
PLIGHT OF THE MAUI
Waikato Times, Saturday, April 12, 2003
The survival of a rare dolphin has divided Kawhia and Raglan’s fishing and conservation groups. Lester Thorley reports
On a glorious autumn morning Aotea Harbour’s ebb tide is the colour of milky greenstone. Two big gulls ride the surface flow towards breakers at the bar, which send spray into the sky like bushfire smoke.
Davis Apiti walks ankle deep in this place he regards as the lifeblood of his whakapapa: “Can you feel that spiritual connection?”
Oral history of Apitis’s Ngati Te Wehi hapu recounts that their tupuna (ancestor) came from Hawaiiki to the upper reaches of Aotea Harbour, near Kāwhia, on the back of the dolphin Panereira. The man was so white from time in the sea that he covered himself in black sand to warm up.
As Kaitiaki (guardian) of his hapu’s traditions and treasures, 39-year-old Apiti is driven to protect the last North Island maui dolphins off Waikato and King Country’s west coast as they swim toward extinction.
Ngati Te Wehi regard all dolphins as descendants of Panereira, and will fight for the survival of the small, light grey, cream and black mammals. They were formerly called hector’s dolphin until found to be genetically distinct from the South Island species.
Most estimates put the population at about 100, making the Maui (up to 1.7m long) the world’s rarest marine dolphin, and ranking its plight alongside the kakapo.
Conservationists fear that 25 deaths reports since 1985 in the Maui’s main habitat, from Dargaville to New Plymouth, are a severe understatement. Maui suffer natural mortality and shark predation, but conservationists say fishing net deaths mean its natural breeding rise of about 2 per cent a year is not enough to sustain the population.
They believe the expansion of mechanised gill netting since 1970 has cut the Maui population from 400 to 100.
Trying to prevent the Maui’s extinction is a classic clash between conservationists and fishers, with other fisheries ministry as referee.
One feeling the opponents seem to share is a liking for the Maui, which live about 20 years in family pods of two to eight. The dolphins seem to enjoy human interaction.
Fishers say they want to see the Maui survive and have proposed a variety of safeguards to limit their deaths.
But conservation groups say zero tolerance to fishing-related deaths is needed if the Maui population is to recover. Three dead Maui washed up in February last year, two mired in nets, spurred them on.
The Government duly put a recreational and commercial set-net ban in place in January, but conservationists say that’s not stringent enough. Trawlers and harbour netter are now in their sights.
The fishing industry says conservationists scaremonger by revising Maui population estimates lower and lower without evidence. Some fishers believe climate change, inbreeding, and ocean pollution may have doomed the Maui, not their nets. The ministry admits current knowledge of the Maui population, last scientifically estimated at 134 in 1985 is “imperfect”.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) may fund a new census.
Fishers in small settlements such as Raglan and Kāwhia, who have used nets for decades, feel they are being made scapegoats. Banned from setting nets within four nautical miles of the coast, the fishers can no longer exploit some lucrative inshore fish species.
Feelings boiled over when an angry fisherman assaulted a conservationist in Raglan just before Christmas.
Escalating fears for the Maui first led to a set-net ban along more than half of the North Island’s west coast in August 2001. After a challenge by the fishing industry, a High Court judge set aside the ban.
But in December last year, following a correctly notified submission process, fisheries ministry chief executive Arthur Hore recommended the 2001 ban be reintroduced.
During submission interviews, three Raglan commercial fishers admitted having caught Maui in set nets. Kāwhia fishers said they had never caught one. Trawlers said they hadn’t caught Maui and do not see them in their fishing grounds. Conservationists dispute the trawlers’ statements.
They point out the South Island trawlers made similar claims, but when observers were on board for 89 out of 351 fishing days, six hector’s dolphins were snared.
The fishing industry regards last year’s submission process as a farce, particularly after, under the Official Information Act, it obtained a draft decision letter and press releases prepared by staff while Fisheries Minister Pete Hodgson was still supposed to be deliberating.
Hodgson denied that it was a fait accompli but signed off on the new set-net ban.
FOR Davis Apiti, there can be no compromise. He says the plight of the Maui is symbolic of the need to Tainui to stop marine resources along its coast being exploited for commercial gain.
“I want my children to know what they have, what they were blessed with. I don’t want them to come up to me when the Maui is gone and say ‘why didn’t you try harder?’, the kaitiaki says. “I want to be able to say I tried my best.”
Apiti has spent countless unpaid hours managing websites and publicising the importance of the Maui’s survival. He had been frustrated of the Maui’s survival. He has been frustrated with his attempts to convince Tainui kaumātua of the urgent need to draw a conservation line in the west coast ironsands.
“It’s no good them just saying ‘we support you’.”
His voice is bitter when he talks about a photo of a Maui that was found filleted on a beach near Westport: “They would protect a human before they hurt us, so why are we killing them?”
Apiti believes an updated Maui census is desperately needed, and Ngati Te Wehi wants the netting ban extended to 15 nautical miles offshore, policed by independent inspectors, not the fisheries ministry.
“I wouldn’t trust the people who are doing the damage to check the rules are being enforced.”
He has sympathy for fishers in his close-knit community but won’t back down.
“It it (the Maui) dies, a little bit of all of us (Ngati Te Wehi) dies. If they are in trouble we at least need to put up a fight.”
FROM their balcony on a hill above Te Waitere on the eastern edge of Kawhia Harbour, Neil Cleaver and his son Paul can see the Kawhia bar and far out to where the Tasman Sea finally merges into the sky.
The idyllic setting does little, however, to improve their mood as they talk about their future after 15 years gill netting the inshore west coast fishery.
“We’re guilty until we prove ourselves innocent,” says 62-year-old Neil, who is “bloody angry” about fishers being blamed for the Maui’s plight.
Paul, 33, adds: “Fishermen aren’t dolphin murderers. We don’t want to catch them full stop. We are farmers harvesting the fishery.”
The pair say they have never snared a Maui and haven’t seen one for about three years. But since the ban was put in place, they have lost thousands of dollars’ income and will get no compensation.
“They’ve just said ‘sorry sunshine, your days are numbered’,” Neil says.
The Cleavers drove to meetings in Auckland, New Plymouth, Raglan and Kawhia last year to plead their case. From their 8.5m boat Shamrock, the Cleavers use gill nets – usually two 1000m nets at one time, with weights to keep them on the sea floor, and floats to keep them vertical. They say that if a Maui hit one of their nets, the width would not be enough to completely wrap it like a deadly blanket.
Yet they have lost access to the rig (sand shark) fishery, their best earner. Rig are close to the shore this time of year but with that fishery cut off, the Cleavers say they now face much more dangerous trips on the notorious west coast, at least 12 nautical miles offshore, to seek school sharks.
For Neil’s wife Verena, it is a stressful time. She watches from the front room for the men to return from the longer journeys. “When the weather turns I really freak.”
The Cleavers were upset when conservationists told them at heated meetings that a dolphin’s life was worth more than a fisherman’s.
They say suggestions that they change to long-lining are simplistic; rig can’t be caught on hooks and their quotas for snapper and gurnard are not big enough to replace the missing rig income.
The Cleavers fear black market amateurs, with a more cut-throat attitude to Maui than commercial fishers, will fill the rig demand void. They say the result will be Maui snared in abandoned nets.
Paul says after 15 years fishing, he probably knows more about the Maui, which he loves to see and is interested to learn more about, than most so-called experts, and certainly Pete Hodgson.
“Who the hell’s he to decide? He’s never been out here.
“If they came to me with scientific proof that commercial fishermen are killing off the dolphins, I’d give up fishing tomorrow.”
As Neil’s career reaches its twilight, he says the ban was almost the last straw.
“I would have chucked it in if it wasn’t for Paul’s future. But when you’ve got fishing in your blood it’s pretty hard to give up”.
UP the coast, Fred Lichtwark is adamant: “I’m no greeny”.
A collection of rods in the corner of his plant nursery office near Raglan reflect his love of fishing. He’s worked on fishing boats and believes the sea’s bounty should be harvested – but not at any cost.
He crewed on a trawler which hauled in a Maui and felt numb when he saw its lifeless body. Even hardened fishermen on board believed Tangaroa’s (god of the sea) anger would limit their catch that day, 41-year-old Licthwark says.
The punch in the head he got from a fisherman livid at Lichtwark’s whistleblowing submission about that and two other unreported Maui trawling deaths came while he was driving through Raglan on a Saturday morning in December. His assailant, a former crewmate, pleaded guilty in Hamilton District Court this year and was fined $300. Lichtwark looks over his shoulder more often these days when he goes into town. But it hasn’t quelled his passion to save the Maui: “It makes me dig my heels in.”
Lichtwark, sick of the degradation of the marine ecosystem, helped found Whaingaroa Harbour Care eight years ago.
“My grandparents were from Raglan. I’ve got an affinity with this place which is incredibly strong. When I started (harbour care) all I wanted was to be able to catch a fish when I retired.”
The removal of his honorary fisheries officer warrant after a clash with the ministry indicated Lichtwark’s unwillingness to back down on environmental issues.
Lichtwark wants the netting ban distance extended, and trawlers, which he ways leave the sea bed a barren wasteland, forced further out. His aim is not to halt all commercial fishing; he says long-lining is a viable alternative to netting.
He has sympathy fro the impact on established fishers: “But I still think it doesn’t give them any right to cause the extinction of a species. Who the hell are they to take such a selfish bloody attitude?”
Last month a fishing friend told Lichtwark about seeing a Mauiand a 30cm calf near Raglan.
It’s the sort of news that stops him and Davis Apiti from giving up on this special descendant of Panereira.
DOLPHINS ENDANGERED
(Article by Waitomo News, December 5, 2000)
Hector's dolphins has just been declared an endangered species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

The 2000 IUCN Red List of threatened species has been released, just as discussions seek to create a second protected area for the dolphin off the west coast of the North Island between Mokau and Kaipara.

IUCN is the world's largest conservation agency, bringing together 76 countries, 111 government agencies, 732 non government organizations, and some 10,000 scientists and experts from 181 countries.

University of Otago researchers Dr Liz Slooten and Dr Steve Dawson, who recently carried out a nationwide population survey for Hector's dolphins, say with a population of only 3000-4000.
3000-4000 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 3000-4000 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
"Hector's dolphins are one of the rarest dolphin species on earth."

Hector's dolphins are only found in New Zealand. A collaborative project with Franz Pilcher from Auckland University showed that the population is fragmented into at least three genetically different sub-populations.

One each off the east and west coasts of the South Island, and one off the North Island west coast.

The Otago team are also researching threats to the species, in particular dolphin entanglement in gillnets. Dr Slooten explains: "Our research has shown that bycatch in gillnets is causing Hector's dolphin populations to decline in several areas around NZ.

The North Island Hector's dolphin is particularly at risk, and has been listed as critically endangered by the IUCN. This is the highest risk category, and underlines the need for immediate management action.

"This is obviously bad news for Hector's dolphin, but we hope that this international recognition will lead to greater efforts to solve the conservation problems."
LETTER TO THE DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION
Department of Conservation

HAMILTON

Dear Sir/Madam

In regards to the recent plight of the Hector's Dolphin we wish to notify your department that we are extremely disappointed that after four years of lobbying for the protection of the Hector's Dolphin that you have not heeded or taken our concerns with the proper respect for these taonga. We wish to advice you that until appropriate action is taken, in partnership with the tangata whenua, the Department of Conservation is not welcome in Ngati te Wehi's area.

Yours faithfully
Davis Apiti
Kaitiaki
Okapu Marae
LETTER FROM Year 2000 
GREEN PARTY CO-LEADER,
JEANETTE FITZSIMONS
29 June 2000

Kia ora Davis,

Thank you for the opportunity to meet with yourself, John Apiti, John Hart and your very kind Mother-in-law last Sunday.

I have followed up our meeting with some enquiries.

I am told that the Ministry of Fisheries is preparing a regulatory proposal for the protection of Hector's dolphin to present to their Minister, Pete Hodgson, in the next week or so. Once he approves this informal discussion document it will be circulated for public submissions soon after. There will be a six week submission period during which variations on the proposed options can be submitted.

A statutory proposal will then go to the Minister for approval.

It is expected regulations for protecting the dolphins could be in place as early as September but that might be a little optimistic.

While I support and commend your initiative for a section 186A, in light of the above, I believe it will not be supported by the Minister. A 186A proposal have an informal application process in which the Minister will seek advice from his officials. My information is that this advice will be not to proceed as the above proposal will give a wider area of protection.

That is not to say that you should not make a 186A application as by applying you are increasing the pressure on the Minister and the Ministry to perform.

I understand the proposals will cover: - Regulated closure of recreational gill-netting - Regulated closure of commercial gill-netting in areas of known dolphin habitat - Possible use of pingers/video monitoring in areas outside the above - Place of observers on trawlers operating in the inshore zone

The offshore extent of the protected area as well as the along-shore extent is being debated at present based on Liz's and other's data.

These boundaries and measures will all be up for public submission.

The Ministry Scientists are taking seriously the workshop position that by-catch must be reduced to virtually zero if the measures are to be any use at all. However the Ministry will be subject to many alternative viewpoints and it will require all of us to maintain pressure for as wide measures as possible. As mentioned on Sunday I will be making use of Ministerial questions in this regard and will keep you informed of the response.

Thank you again for all you are doing to protect this unique and beautiful creature.

Yours sincerely

Jeanette Fitzsimons
MP for Coromandel
BAN SOUGHT OVER DOLPHINS
Article by Waikato Times, Wednesday 21 June, 2000)
Kawhia's Davis Apiti is seeking a ban on fishing along the North Island's west coast in a bid to save the endangered North Island Hector's Dolphin. He is applying the ban on commercial net fishing under section 186 of the Fisheries Act and will be urging other marae along the west coast, north of Kawhia and south of Kaipara Harbour where the dolphin lives, to do the same. But Raglan's Roydon Hartsone, who has worked in the fishing industry along the west coast for the last 30 years, said the people calling for bans had no real knowledge of the dolphin and the biggest threat to the dolphins were sharks. He said people did not appreciate the social and economic impact such a ban would have in coastal areas. Mr Apiti agreed little was known about the dolphins but said a ban should be put in place now to protect the remaining 100 from gill nets. Mr Apiti is applying for the ban on behalf of Ngati te Wehi, Aotea Harbour's hapu, as the kaitiaki (conservation officer). The ban would cover the hapu's boundary, between Tauratahi Point, north of Kawhia harbour, and Taranaki Point, north of Aotea Harbour, and 7km out to sea to Gannet Island. Environmental groups including the Green Party and Forest and Bird Protection Society have also called from bans on gill net fishing where the dolphin lives. The Fisheries Ministry is also preparing a briefing paper for the Fisheries and conservation Ministers to be presented in the next three weeks. Article Ends Here
OUR RESPONSE
Having a such a ban in place will either prove for or against the argument that gill net fishing has contributed toward the demise of the North Island Hector's Dolphin.
Is it not better to put a ban in place now than regret it later?
If sharks were the biggest threat to these dolphins then one would expect the South Island Hector's Dolphins to also be diminishing in numbers, even in the Marine Protected areas. However, this is not the case and numbers are in fact increasing.
Finally, some food for thought - If commercial fishermen state that they are not the cause of the demise of Hector's Dolphins then why is there great interest in the use of set net pingers on nets to deter the dolphins?
DOLPHINS REMAIN IN DANGER 1
(Article by Waikato Times, Wednesday 21 June, 2000)
Kawhia's Davis Apiti is seeking a ban on fishing along the North Island's west coast in a bid to save the endangered North Island Hector's Dolphin. He is applying the ban on commercial net fishing under section 186 of the Fisheries Act and will be urging other marae along the west coast, north of Kawhia and south of Kaipara Harbour where the dolphin lives, to do the same. But Raglan's Roydon Hartsone, who has worked in the fishing industry along the west coast for the last 30 years, said the people calling for bans had no real knowledge of the dolphin and the biggest threat to the dolphins were sharks. He said people did not appreciate the social and economic impact such a ban would have in coastal areas. Mr Apiti agreed little was known about the dolphins but said a ban should be put in place now to protect the remaining 100 from gill nets. Mr Apiti is applying for the ban on behalf of Ngati te Wehi, Aotea Harbour's hapu, as the kaitiaki (conservation officer). The ban would cover the hapu's boundary, between Tauratahi Point, north of Kawhia harbour, and Taranaki Point, north of Aotea Harbour, and 7km out to sea to Gannet Island. Environmental groups including the Green Party and Forest and Bird Protection Society have also called from bans on gill net fishing where the dolphin lives. The Fisheries Ministry is also preparing a briefing paper for the Fisheries and conservation Ministers to be presented in the next three weeks. Article Ends Here
OUR RESPONSE
Having a such a ban in place will either prove for or against the argument that gill net fishing has contributed toward the demise of the North Island Hector's Dolphin.
Is it not better to put a ban in place now than regret it later?
If sharks were the biggest threat to these dolphins then one would expect the South Island Hector's Dolphins to also be diminishing in numbers, even in the Marine Protected areas. However, this is not the case and numbers are in fact increasing.
Finally, some food for thought - If commercial fishermen state that they are not the cause of the demise of Hector's Dolphins then why is there great interest in the use of set net pingers on nets to deter the dolphins?
DOLPHINS REMAIN IN DANGER 2
(Article by Waitomo News, Wednesday 23 May, 2000)
The recent national conference that considered the plight of the almost extinct Hector's Dolphin failed to take immediate steps to protect the mammal, says Ngati Te Wehi spokesman Davis Apiti. The Aotea Harbour hapu attended the Wellington conference earlier this month to lobby the Ministry of Fisheries and Department of Conservation to protect the dolphin from commercial fishing. This is because they have a spiritual connection with the mammal. Davis said the attending academics decided to conduct more research and to review the situation in three months time. He said this worried Ngati Te Wehi because the information it received at a recent Okapu Marae hui said the population was declining (Waitomo News, May 4). Hector's Dolphin was a slow breeder and was being caught in the gill nets of commercial fishers, meaning there were only about 100 of the North Island sub-species left in the area between New Plymouth and Kaipara Harbour. "If nothing is done soon, the academics won't have anything to study," he said.
DOLPHIN SAVIOURS
(Article by Waitomo News, Thursday 4 May, 2000)
The North Island Hector's dolphin is on the brink of extinction, and Aotea Harbour kaitiaki Davis Apiti believes the government must act now to save it. Davis made his views clear at a hui at Okapu Marae last Saturday, attended by Auckland and Otago University scientists and Department of Conservation staff. Davis said something needed to be done quickly because Ngati Te Wehi would impose their own protection methods if the government didn't act. "The Ministry of Fisheries have been talking in circles for the past few years. But one can stand in a circle for only so long. We have got to do something. If the Ministry will not do it, we will. You guys are the government - do your job." Mr Apiti's passion comes from his whanau's ancestral connection with the Hector's dolphin. Their ancestor, Panereira came to Aotearoa on the back of a dolphin, he said. This gave them an obligation to save the dolphins. Mr Apiti held the hui to organise his people's argument for next week's conference in Wellington that will consider if restrictions on fishing need to be imposed to save the dolphin. 
Auckland University researcher Kirsty Russell said MoF, DoC, non-governmental organizations, scientists, fishing and seafood industry representatives would attend the conference. The scientists outlined the current state of the Hector's dolphin population at the hui, and gave reasons. Otago University lecturer Steve Dawson said only about 100 Hector's dolphins remained in the area between New Plymouth and the Kaipara Harbour. Otago University head of environmental studies Elisabeth Slooten said this was down from about 300 in 1970. Dr Dawson said commercial and recreational gill net fishing was a major reason for this - "as far as we know." They said Hector's dolphins were the world's smallest dolphins, were only found in New Zealand and there were only about 3000-4000 left. The Hector's dolphin can be distinguished from other dolphins by their small size and rounded head , flippers and fin on the back. Dr Dawson said they didn't breed quickly, and they weren't seen in places they used to be. Significantly, he said, unlike other dolphins, Hector's dolphins stayed in one location. "This means if the Aotea Hector's dolphins die out, they won't be replaced by dolphins from other areas," he said. "The only area where the Hector's dolphin population was increasing was in the Bank's Peninsula sanctuary. The North Island Hector's dolphin is threatened with imminent extinction," he said
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