Taranaki has chance to be national leader for transition to carbon neutral economy

The head of Forest and Bird says Taranaki has the opportunity to set the template for what a just transition to a carbon neutral economy means for New Zealand.

Source: 1 NEWS

The organisation's chief executive, Kevin Hague, said the challenge for the province would be not thinking about the future in terms of the past.

The prospect of moving away from oil and gas should be an exciting one for Taranaki.

"That's because it's taking an industry that people won't be able to work in in the future because we won't have it and is about creating new futures," Hague said.

Despite reservations about the focus on hydrogen energy, Hague said he was impressed with the region's Tapuae Roa - Make Way For Taranaki strategy.

"What I've liked about what I've seen is the graphic representation coming out of the workshops and the place of nature in those, because from a Forest and Bird point of view we are definitely interested in a transition to a sustainable relationship between humans and human activity and the environment."

A farm in Taranaki. (File photo) Source:

A significant part of the strategy seemed to be about restoring nature, supporting halo and wildlife corridor projects involving the public which was exciting, he said.

"And they actually have real economic consequences, you know. There is money in intact nature."

High value tourism was one avenue the region could explore, Hague said.

"Right now tourism has been disrupted by Covid-19 but that doesn't mean it's been decimated. In fact it probably leads us into the kind of high value tourism that has a sustainable relationship with nature which is where we need that industry to be.

"The industry has had a strategy of high value low volume but has struggle to really deliver that strategy. Now it has an alternative but to deliver that strategy to create opportunities - particularly for New Zealanders - to actually experience different parts of the country."

Some of the best examples of high value tourism in New Zealand were eco-tourism, Hague said.

"So if you could imagine a Taranaki of the future where nature has been restored across the ring plain where we've eradicated predators from large parts of the province and eventually all of it.

"You can create opportunities for people to come and experience New Zealand how it was and can be again. That's the kind of thing that's going to keep people in the province for longer. Slowness is kind of the essence of high quality tourism."