The tourism industry in New Zealand is booming. More and more people are flocking to explore that part of the world. What does this influx of humans mean for Kiwi populations? Humans are no longer viewed as the greatest threat to Kiwi populations, though that was thought to be the case for a long time. The top spot has gone to mammals such as rats, stoats, and cats that have been introduced to New Zealand over many years and have thriving and growing populations. Humans are now viewed as the Kiwi’s biggest protector. The tourism industry has played a crucial role in raising awareness about the plight of the Kiwi and attracting visitors to one of twenty-five opportunities to see Kiwis in captivity or in the wild. Tourism in New Zealand has not only provided exposure to the plight of the Kiwi, but the advertising involved presents a source of revenue that can then be used towards Kiwi conservation efforts.
The consumer culture in New Zealand has placed great emphasis on the social and cultural value of their environment. Included in their environment are their seventy-three native bird species. The Kiwi is perhaps the species with the most conservation attention surrounding it, due to it’s status as a national icon. The tourism industry has capitalized on the well-known and recognizable face of the Kiwi and used the flightless bird to attract visitors and attention to New Zealand.
As made evident by this 100% Pure New Zealand tourism video, the tourism industry focuses on using the natural wonders of New Zealand to attract and entice visitors. Little reference is made to nightlife or luxury travel and emphasis is placed on adventure activities, natural beauty, and the unique species that can be found in New Zealand. The Kiwi is often featured as one of the unusual and endemic species that can be found in New Zealand and serves as more incentive for visitors to come to the island: the Kiwi can’t be found anywhere else.
Another part of the tourism industry that utilizes the Kiwi and it’s endangered status is the various wildlife parks and Kiwi specific conservation centers that exists all over the country. Here, visitors have the opportunity to get up close and personal with this bird, since spotting them in the wild has become next to impossible. For example, the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve in Christchurch advertises a “kiwi guarantee” to visitors. By doing this, they can attract visitors to the reserve by promising the opportunity to see the Kiwi which is no longer common outside of these parks and reserves. This facility, like many others, is sponsored by New Zealand tourism and the revenue made from ticket sales at the majority of places like this are used to fund further conservation efforts and research regarding many of New Zealand’s endangered species.
The New Zealand Department of Conservation plays an integral role in the tourism industry. They are also some of the most important players on the frontline in the fight to protect the Kiwi. The DOC’s goal when it comes to Kiwi is, “to restore and, wherever possible, enhance the abundance, distribution, and genetic diversity of all Kiwi species.” One of the most widespread and popular ways through which the DOC works towards this goal is through the establishment of Kiwi sanctuaries. Currently, there are five DOC controlled Kiwi sanctuaries in New Zealand: three on the North Island and two on the South Island. Through advertising and the media, the DOC spreads awareness of the Kiwi while simultaneously promoting these sanctuaries and increasing the number of visitors they receive each year.
Other efforts on the part of the DOC include programs such as the Battle for our Birds. This program focuses on predator control. Tourists and locals can get involved in these efforts through media packs that included materials used to educate and raise awareness about the DOC’s efforts. The DOC is one of the most trusted organizations in New Zealand and is also one of the most recognized when it comes to tourism. The DOC is in charge of maintaining the popular ‘Great Walks’ that are frequented by thousands of visitors each year. They are involved in preservation of lands, species, and the New Zealand national icon, the Kiwi. Their efforts are integral not only in raising awareness about the Kiwi on a local level, but also on a national one, and ensuring that the public and tourists alike remain interested and invested in the success of the Kiwi’s comeback.
Tourism remains one of the largest and most successful industries as well as one that is growing rapidly. The number of people traveling to the country has been on the rise in recent years, and in turn, the number of people who have been exposed to the battle to save the Kiwi has grown. Tourism and the media surrounding it play an integral role in the fight to save the Kiwi by expanding engagement, knowledge, and interest through various media outlets.