1 May 2020
Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern
Prime Minister of New Zealand
Private Bag 18041
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. No reira
E noho ora mai
Edward Ellison ONZM
cc. Hon Eugenie Sage, Minister of Conservation
cc. Lou Sanson, Director-General of Conservation, Department of Conservation