From left, Chair Robin Long, Hon Poto Williams and Trustee Suzanne Hills

Trustee Suzanne Hills reports on her meeting with Hon Poto Williams:

“In October the Hon Poto Williams, Minister of Conservation, visited the West Coast and the Trust was fortunate to be granted a meeting. Our chair Robin Long and trustee Suzanne Hills attended.

As the last meeting of her busy schedule we were allocated half an hour but managed to cover all the key points we wished to convey and time left for a photo too.

We discussed the breadth and depth of the Trust’s work and how it directly contributes to Te Mana o te Taiao | the Aotearoa NZ Biodiversity Strategy – the key piece of work needed to halt and reverse NZ’s biodiversity crisis.

The Minister was impressed with the Trust’s practical projects of penguin fences, nest boxes and ramp cutting. We presented her with our Kororā education booklet and she praised the focus on education and the wider benefits it brings in fostering a care for nature.

We took the opportunity to reinforce our messages on the West Coast stewardship land review. The key one being the need for coastal land classifications that enable the protection of seabird values not just recreational ones. The dangers of uncontrolled dogs on beaches followed on from this and we discussed the better alignment needed between councils, DOC and the Trust to achieve shared outcomes.

And as no meeting between a Trust and a government Minister is complete without mentioning funding, we expressed our appreciation of the DOC community fund. We explained its importance as a baseline and how we triple its value through contributions from other organisations and generous individual donors like yourselves.

The meeting gave the Minister a good overview of our work and commitment to our vision of seabirds and their habitats are healthy and thriving. We hope before long the Minister will return to the Coast and we may have an opportunity to show her the Trust’s penguin fence as well as our research projects or educational programmes in action.”