Forest & Bird shows DOC some much needed love

06 May 2013

A huge thank you to all our branches and members who took part in the Love DOC Day last month.

The idea was to show DOC workers how much New Zealanders appreciate and value their work, while sending a message to the Government that we need to increase DOC’s capacity, not cut it off at the knees.

Love DOC Day highlights

  • Street theatre in Invercargill with a life-sized kiwi being hunted by the “Grin Reaper”
  • 80 students from Twizel Area School delivered messages of support in the marketplace
  • Whanganui Intermediate School and kindergarten children presented art work to DOC
  • Catlins Area School presented artwork to the Owaka DOC office
  • Eugenie Sage donated trays of homemade muffins and a cake to the Wellington stall
  • Kaikoura branch marched through town with placards showing DOC staff at work
  • Debs Martin wore a kiwi costume in Nelson
  • Rural DOC offices received messages and gifts in Te Anau, Wanaka, Hokitika, Oamaru, Twizel, Geraldine, Blenheim, Picton, Takaka, Motueka, Golden Bay, St Arnaud, Warkworth, Waiheke Island as well as in main centres: Nelson, New Plymouth, Whanganui, Gisborne, Rotorua, Tauranga, Auckland, Wellington, Dunedin, Christchurch and as far afield as Raoul Island.

 The level of community support was amazing, and was strengthened by support from the PSA union, Green Party, Labour, kindred conservation organisations and those in the tourism industry.

Our actions, along with more than 1000 submissions from DOC staff, helped persuade Conservation Minister Nick Smith to reduce budget cuts and save 60 jobs.

This would not have happened without our Love DOC Day, which saw more than 28 DOC offices, including many rural Area Offices, inundated with messages and goodies.

Despite the short notice, branches came up with some creative ideas for their own Love DOC stalls.

Well over 1500 messages we received on the streets, and a further 1800 individual messages came through electronically.

We have compiled a 130-page booklet containing the messages and a selection of photographs, which will be presented to the Prime Minister, Conservation Minister and DOC’s Acting Director-General.

The following week, a 140-strong crowd of Forest & Bird supporters and PSA members gathered on the lawn in front of Parliament, holding balloons spelt out: “[heart] DOC”.

Forest & Bird welcomes the $20 million boost to reduce the cuts. However, DOC remains severely underfunded and will still have to cut $18 million over the next four years.

Sadly, the now departing Director-General Al Morrison remains intent on creating a double-headed DOC with nearly a third of staff devoted to fundraising and managing volunteers.

Looking after our precious places and species is a core government responsibility. However, the new business model relies heavily on corporate sponsorship to fund DOC’s work.

This leaves the department open to business influences, especially in its RMA advocacy work, and could shape conservation priorities that should remain firmly in the hands of DOC.