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Poll finds support for Kermadec sanctuary

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 18/05/2016

Close to 90 per cent of New Zealanders support the creation of the Kermadec ocean sanctuary, according to a new poll.

The Colmar Brunton poll, released on Thursday by conservation group WWF, also shows that 86 per cent of Maori back the sanctuary, despite a legal challenge by Te Ohu Kaimoana.

"The overwhelming majority of New Zealanders want to see the amazing and ecologically important Kermadec region protected," WWF NZ senior campaigner Alex Smith said.

The proposed sanctuary covers 620,000 square kilometres of ocean in an area about 1000km north-east of New Zealand.

Mr Smith said the Kermadec Islands and the surrounding oceans were one of the most special and pristine marine environments in the world, with globally-recognised biodiversity and geodiversity hotspots.

"We would love for all our political parties to listen to the people of New Zealand and join together to help create the Kermadec ocean sanctuary," he said.

Environment Minister Nick Smith said the poll result shows the sanctuary is an initiative that connects with New Zealand's core values.

"New Zealanders have a strong cultural association with the ocean ... and we want New Zealand to be leading in marine protection."

The bill to create the sanctuary unanimously passed its first reading in parliament in March and has been sent to a select committee for public submissions.

The Maori Party's support for the sanctuary is hanging in the balance after the concerns raised by the Maori fisheries trust, while Labour wants the court action resolved before the bill goes any further.

NZ First and ACT have also said they're reconsidering their support.

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