New collaboration to save endangered kea

The New Zealand Motor Caravan Association (NZMCA) has joined forces with KiwiRail, the Department of Conservation (DOC) and the Kea Conservation Trust in an innovative project to help save the country’s seriously endangered kea population.

The initiative involves KiwiRail leasing unused land to the NZMCA to develop as member parking sites; with the net revenue being directed to the Kea Conservation Trust.

As a result, the Trust – which was set up in 2006 - will benefit by a guaranteed minimum of $225,000 over the nine year period of the initial agreement.

Delighted with the initiative, Kea Conservation Trust chair Tamsin Orr-Walker said: “This exciting collaboration with NZMCA and KiwiRail shows a substantial commitment to the future of kea and is the longest term NGO funding partnership for the species in New Zealand to date.

“We look forward to working with our new partners to ensure a sustainable future for kea in our Southern Alps.”

DOC’s Director General, Lou Sanson said he was ‘thrilled to see NZMCA and KiwiRail collaborating to support the work of the Kea Conservation Trust’.

“This is a great example of businesses and community finding new ways to support our endangered species; we are seeing more and more businesses putting restoration at the heart of sustainability and achieving a win for both their business and the environment – it’s exciting.”  

The signing of the agreement between the parties this week will immediately add two more properties to the NZMCA’s nationwide Park portfolio; and plans are underway to add more in the years ahead.

NZMCA CEO Bruce Lochore says the unique agreement is ‘a win/win/win for all the parties involved’.

“Securing more safe and secure parking sites for our members in the places they want to go is a priority for our organisation,” he said. “However, with this project we saw an opportunity to work with our partners, KiwiRail and DOC, for the greater good by foregoing the net revenue we’d normally earn and directing it – on behalf of KiwiRail and ourselves - to the work of the Kea Conservation Trust.

“Concern for the natural environment is one of our Association’s core values and we’re excited to be able to show that in such a tangible way.”

Mr Lochore said he wanted to pay tribute to KiwiRail for their willingness to think outside the square in bringing the idea to fruition for the benefit of DOC and the Kea Conservation Trust.

“We have been working on this agreement for over 12 months and I think all the parties are delighted with the outcome.”

KiwiRail Executive General Manager Tourism, Ahleen Rayner, says the agreement is an important contribution to Tourism New Zealand’s strategy of growing the regions by $1b by 2023.

“We see ourselves as a champion for the regions. So, we’re excited to be working closely with our partners at NZMCA and DOC to boost visitor numbers to the regions.”

Group General Manager Property, Stephanie Campbell, says this is a great way to support the environment and grow communities through tourism.

“We are developing more flexible and innovative ways to collaborate with our partners to support the regions, our environment and better utilise our land.”

Ms Campbell said sustainability in all forms is central to KiwiRail’s purpose of creating stronger connections for a better New Zealand.

“Kaitiakitanga is important to us, so we are pleased we can provide land which will enable positive outcomes for the region, the environment and the protection of our native kea.”

The collaboration respects and acknowledges the taonga species status of kea for the iwi of Te Wai Pounamu – the South Island.