This project identifies whether people believe there are some highly valued species and places, and if so, how they expect DOC to manage them.

More specifically, this project sought to identify what the public believes is special and/or iconic with regards to places (natural features) and species, why they consider these to be iconic and what they want DOC to do with regards to protecting these within the context of optimising the conservation effort.

Our research approach 

This was a qualitative project consisting of 15 focus groups. A qualitative approach was most appropriate for the project due to the highly complex nature of the concepts and phenomena being explored. 

While it was not part of the recruitment criteria, the groups included people with a range of different education backgrounds, employment types (including people either not currently working, not working outside of the home or retired) and household structure (single people, people with no children, families with children of different ages and extended families). The groups were also run in a range of different locations across New Zealand. 

Summary of key findings 

The overall finding from this project is that there is widespread awareness that there are many endangered species (including flora, fauna and habitats) in New Zealand – and that DOC will have to prioritise its activities with regards to actively protecting these. 

This is seen to be a result of not only perceived resource constraints but also a result of the number of species that they believe are (likely) to be endangered. They are therefore aware that there are species that are not being actively protected by DOC. 

Furthermore this project found that there is a general understanding that there are species that will likely and indeed in some cases definitely become extinct. This is seen to be a result of the activities of people, both past (including the introduction of non-native), and present (through our impact on the environment), the level (perceived by many as relatively low) of resources that are available to DOC, the extent of the decline that in some cases has already occurred with regards to specific species, and also the difficulty that is involved in protection and recovery. 

Participants have a high degree of confidence and place a great of deal of trust in DOC and, overall, are comfortable to defer any decision-making with regards to prioritising conservation activities to DOC as long as that confidence and trust is maintained. Indeed many feel that DOC is the only organisation with the information and expertise to make such decisions.

Publication information

Prepared for the Department of Conservation by Mobius Research and Strategy Ltd.

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