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'A big step forward' - Government announces plan to ban sale of elephant ivory in NZ

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage announced a plan today to ban the sale of elephant ivory in New Zealand, with some exemptions.

Eugenie Sage said the ban sent a message that NZ doesn’t want products from poaching or illegal trading. Source: istock.com

The ban would come by amending the Trade in Endangered Species Act 1989, which will also “improve the regulatory system at the border”, Sage said in a statement. 

“I am pleased to announce the proposal to ban the domestic sale of any items made with ivory from elephants killed after 1975, which is when elephants began to be protected from international trade under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES),” she said.

“Currently there are no restrictions on domestic trade in elephant ivory in New Zealand. This is out of step with many countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, France and China which have already banned domestic trade in elephant ivory."

Cabinet signed off on the plan in August. However, the proposed law will only make its way into Parliament after the election, needing the support of the majority to pass.

“This is a big step forward in strengthening the management of international trade in endangered, threatened and exploited species,” Sage said.

She admitted the market for ivory in NZ is small, but she said the ban will send a message that Kiwis don’t want products from poaching or illegal trading.

Exemptions would be granted to ensure elephant ivory items can still be traded by museums, for DNA testing and testing to determine age, and that antique musical instruments with correct permits can still be carried across the border.

Amendments to the existing law would also enable a process to return seized items to individuals where there are permit irregularities in certain limited circumstances.