National | 1080

Open letter opposes national 1080 ban

Environmentalist and indigenous rights advocate, Tina Ngata, has released a letter on an independent website called 'Ngahere Justice' regarding the use of 1080 and prominent Māori environmentalists and activists have signed on to the statement.

The letter calls on communities to peacefully bind together to find solutions that will work for both hunting and conservation, as well as opposing the plea for a national ban on 1080, which is being called for in a march to parliament this weekend.

Ngata says, “The problem with a national ban is that it undermines the right of mana whenua to be able to make that call for themselves, and so this call really emphasises the importance of recognising mana whenua and involving them in that decision."

Ngata goes on to say mana whenua have as much of a say as anyone else when it comes to the decision-making around their treasures.

“Nobody should be cutting mana whenua out of the decision-making process around how to care for our taonga, that's a right secured by Te Tiriti o Waitangi."

Signatories to the letter include leaders of hapū environmental efforts, academics who have studied and reported on 1080, activists against oil and gas extraction, and well-respected educators on Māori plant knowledge and natural medicines.

The hosting website will be keeping the letter "live" for further signatories to add their name.

The letter in full:

We are a collective of kaitieki Maori actively engaged in the care and maintenance of our ecological taonga. We are researchers, pracititioners, activists and hapū/iwi advisors on taiao who hold many years of active service to our people, ngāhere, waterways and coastlines.

In writing this letter we reaffirm our commitment to Papatūānuku, Ranginui, me a rāua tini mokopuna. As descendents of this land and these waters, we are privileged to carry the legacy of our ancestors in caring for all native and endemic species, for the enjoyment of all mokopuna. We also understand that our distinct, and precious taonga is currently under extreme threat from invasive species. We are losing our endemic species at unacceptably high rates, and a failure to act falls short of our responsibilities to our ancestors, and future generations.

To these ends, we make the following statement regarding the use of 1080:

We support the involvement of mana whenua in making the best decision for their ecological taonga.

We affirm that full and undisturbed possession of all taonga is secured through Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and recognize that many hapū and iwi have been wrongfully dispossessed of their ecological taonga which now rests in possession of the Crown, and is under the care of the Department of Conservation. We strongly advocate for the inclusion of mana whenua in the decisionmaking about pest control strategies on all conservation estate. We also recognise the diverse range of topographies and ecologies across Aotearoa. For some tangata whenua 1080 is not a viable option, and for others, it is the only option. In line with tikanga we oppose a call for a national ban on 1080, as this would undermine the ability for all mana whenua to make the best decision for their region, and respective taonga.

We support full access to robust science to inform the best decision making.

We are greatly concerned with the amount of mistruth surrounding the use of 1080, which is unhelpful and distracting for those charged with making decisions. We acknowledge the significant level of research already carried out under strict guidelines to develop 1080 to what it is today. We also acknowledge that our ngahere are in crisis, and require urgent assistance to avoid ecological collapse. Time is not on our side, and if we continue the current trajectory of species decline in search of the perfect alternative, we will be failing in our duties as kaitieki. We therefore support the appropriate use of 1080, informed by current scientific evidence, while research continues for alternative measures of pest control.

We denounce any and all hate speech or acts of violence in relation to 1080.

Death threats, threats of violence, incitement of violence, acts of violence and acts of vehicle sabotage have all been carried out against DOC staff and iwi/hapū kaitieki and this is absolutely unacceptable. No Department of Conservation worker, helicopter pilot, volunteer or kaitieki acting in protection of their taonga should have to carry out their duty with fear in their heart. We completely refute that any acts of violence such as these is in alignment with kaitiekitanga, or is in the interests of our people, or our ngāhere.

We promote the wellbeing and maintenance of native species above introduced species.

As kaitieki nō Aotearoa, we reaffirm that our primary responsibility is the wellbeing of native species. Deer, goats, and pigs are all introduced species that contribute to the decline in rākau Māori, and in particular the decline of our understory that is vital to the ecological wellbeing of the ngāhere. Kaitiekitanga is first and foremost about the protection of the legacy of our ancestors, and this includes the control of all pest species, edible or otherwise. We therefore support measures of pest control that prioritise the wellbeing of our taiao Māori above that of introduced species.

Finally, we acknowledge that for many of our whānau, this is a provocative issue, filled with mamae and concern for our whenua, waterways, and mokopuna. In that sense, we stand united. We urge all of our whānau to place fear and riri aside, come together in the spirit of kotahitanga, and seek a pathway that upholds the inherent rights of Papatuanuku, and our mana as her kaitieki.

Signed by:

Tina Ngata

Aroha Mead

Dayle Takitimu

Rob McGowan

Tere Harrison

Dayle Hunia

Raihania Tipoki

PIkikore Moore

Tihi Anne Daisy Noble ONZM

Tina Porou

Dr Manuka Henare

Cilla and Rob Ruha

Ora Barlow-Tutaki

Donna Kerridge

Mahina-a-rangi Baker

Horiana Irwin-Easthope

Ray Tutaki

Dr. Will Edward

Hinekaa Mako

Mike Smith

Che Wilson

Peter Ratahi Cross JP

Margaret Prime

Bronwyn Bauer-Hunt

Richard Witehira

Te Kupenga o Kanihi Hapu

Sina Brown-Davis