A wrap of the biggest stories and best writing about the outdoors from New Zealand and around the world.
The spelling of two of Aotearoa’s most famous lakes may be set for a shakeup.
As reported by Otago Daily Times, Ngai Tahu elder Sir Tipene O’Regan said it’s time to put an ‘h’ back in ‘Wakatipu’ – the way it is spelt by Māori.
“I don’t think anyone’s running around getting offended but we would certainly prefer to have a clear public understanding and throw a bit of effort into public awareness,” Sir Tipene said.
“We can only take on so many scraps at once, but [correcting the misspellings of] Wakatipu and Tekapo [Takapo] will be, I think, the next two coming up.”
The correct name for Queenstown’s famous lake (Whakatipu Waimaori) also appears in the Māori names for the Dart River (Te Awa Whakatipu), Hollyford River and valley (Whakatipu Katuka) and Harris Saddle (Tarahaka Whakatipu).
Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult said the proposed change is worthy of a discussion.
“If that is the way [Māori] are spelling it, then we need to have a look at it, and decide whether we want to change,” he said.
“There’ll be those who like it, there’ll be those who don’t like it, but it will be interesting to hear some views.”
Kākāpō wins Bird of the Year
The kākāpō has edged out the Antipodean albatross to claim its second Bird of the Year title.
“This is the first time any bird has won the Bird of the Year title more than once, so New Zealand’s mighty moss chicken can add yet another feather to its cap,” Bird of the Year spokesperson Laura Keown said.
There were 55,583 votes cast in Forest & Bird’s competition this year, more than 12,000 more than in 2019, and the most ever in the competition’s history.
As with previous years, the race to the finish was not without its controversies, including a voter fraud which saw 1500 votes cast for the little spotted kiwi from the same IP address.
The hihi – a polygamist – also raised eyebrows when it won the endorsement of Adult Toy Megastore.
The competition is run annually to raise awareness of New Zealand’s threatened birdlife.
“In New Zealand, 80 per cent of our native birds are in trouble or facing extinction, including the kākāpō,” Keown said.
“We really need to protect and restore the places our birds call home.”
Whale meat and giraffe bones seized by DOC at border
DOC has reported 53 seizures of illegal imports in an international crackdown on wildlife crime, Newshub reports.
Dubbed Operation Thunder, the bust involved 103 countries and ran through September and October.
DOC’s seizures included giraffe bones, dried shark meat, whale teeth, a monkey skull and canned whale meat.
Globally, more than 45,000 live animals and plants were seized and a total of 699 offenders were apprehended, with further arrests and prosecutions expected.
Endangered species officer Jan McKeown said the trade of illegal animal products is relentless.
“Even with the New Zealand border restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are still experiencing a continuous illegal influx of unpermitted protected wildlife,” she said.
“The ability to purchase internationally online is not a guarantee your purchase can be legally imported into New Zealand – please do your background research before pushing the ‘buy now’ button.”
Subsidies for international visitors set to drop
Tourism Minister Stuart Nash has announced Kiwis will no longer subsidise international visitors to the extent they have in the past, RNZ reports.
The announcement was made at the sold out Tourism Summit Aotearoa as one of four themes Nash will focus on this term.
Also included was strengthening Brand New Zealand, prioritising sustainability, and more partnership between government and industry.
Nash said ratepayers and taxpayers too often pick up the bill of the impact of tourism on infrastructure and the environment, and the full cost needs to be priced into the visitor experience.
“I have asked officials for innovative solutions to minimise the costs to New Zealanders of tourism. This includes ensuring visitors pay for the privilege of participating in the New Zealand experience,” he said.
Nash said sustainability should be the priority for tourism going forward.
“Tourism in New Zealand will never return to how it was before Covid-19 dramatically affected us,” he said.
“We must attract high value and high spending visitors who buy into our own vision of sustainability. We must therefore deliver high quality visitor experiences and exceed our visitors expectations,” he said.