French state terrorism against Greenpeace ship, documentary film


This video says about itself:

The Rainbow Warrior – Trailer

13 April 2016

The Rainbow Warrior: It would go down as one of the first acts of state-sponsored terrorism

Available on iTunes: here.

The plot summary is:

The Rainbow Warrior had set out to protest against French nuclear testing. But in the late hours of July 10th 1985, as the laughter and birthday celebrations of the crew filled the air, two French divers were planting two bombs on the bottom of the Rainbow Warrior. When the bombs exploded the ship was sunk, one man was killed, and a ten year battle between New Zealand and France began.

“If all they were trying to was to stop us then they could have done it in far less spectacular ways”, says head of Greenpeace, Steve Sawyer. In fact, the options of poisoning the diesel or using a single bomb were preferred by all agents involved.

But Charles Henu, an alcoholic and a womanizer and also the French Minister of Defence, was determined to strengthen French military independence. He dispatched three action teams for ‘Operation Satanic‘, many of whom speak here for the first time. “Of course I regret that somebody died”, says Dr. Xavier Maniquet, “but we were just following orders”.

His crew were part of action team 2 and had a near miss with the New Zealand government. Agents Marfur and Prieur from action team one were not so lucky. After making a series of phone calls to a known DGSE number in France, they were intercepted and imprisoned.

Yet what about the action team responsible for planting the bomb in the first place? Head of Operation Satanic, Louis Dillais, now sells arms to US Special Forces in the war against Terror. Banned from speaking by the French government, he can only hint: “No one wanted it to go this far”. The French government’s report on the mission was a whitewash – no second bombs, and some of the men in this documentary wiped from the pages of history. Yet the evidence of the New Zealand Police made a mockery of the cover-up. Speaking about the mission for the first time the former Prime Minister speaks revealingly of how the details of the mission were kept from him. This eye-opening investigation lays the secret workings of a government bare.

New Zealand wildlife, new plan


This video says about itself:

The Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand

6 November 2011

Forest & Bird has been protecting and restoring New Zealand’s natural environment since 1923. We are a not-for-profit independent registered charity that dedicated to the conservation of wild life and wild landscapes in New Zealand.

We are a community based organization. We have 50 volunteer branches throughout New Zealand. Our 3000 active volunteers manage and restore native forest and wetlands on our land and on public land. Each year they set over 10,000 traps and plant over 200,000 trees on our land and on public land. Our contribution to New Zealand since 1923 has been immense, as the Governor General Sir Anand Satyand said in 2009, “It would be difficult to imagine New Zealand without the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society.”

From BirdLife:

Forest & Bird launches ambitious strategy for New Zealand’s nature

By Mike Britton, Fri, 18/03/2016 – 03:15

At the end of 2015 Forest & Bird (BirdLife New Zealand) launched its new strategic plan. It is ambitious and based on the vision of, in Aotearoa (New Zealand), ecological resilience being at the heart of everything the community does. Its mission is to protect and restore nature.

Reducing climate-damaging emissions, building resilience in ecosystems and promoting an economy that is both sustainable and enhances biodiversity are key parts of the strategy. For bird and nature lovers the control and eventually eradication of introduced rodents, mustelids and possums, that have so decimated New Zealand’s ecology is a key, aspirational, but potentially achievable goal.

Over its 75 year history, the protection of New Zealand’s natural areas has been a key focus for Forest & Bird and now it wants to make sure that these hard fought for protected areas are fully protected and managed against threats. The challenge goes on to see protected areas on land extended to protect the full range of the county’s natural heritage. A big part of that work will be built around finishing the identification of terrestrial Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) and seeing them projected.

Forest & Bird has recently completed identification of the Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) at sea and on land for marine and coastal birds. It is starting further work to identify IBAs for terrestrial birds. As part of its strategy for managing threatened species, Forest & Bird aims that all IBAs in New Zealand have been protected or are being managed to ensure species recovery by 2040. With its 50 community based branches, Forest & Bird has the capacity on the ground to achieve this goal.

With almost a third of New Zealand’s terrestrial areas in protective status, protection of the marine environment lags well behind. The strategy aims for a comprehensive and representative network of marine protected areas with ecological integrity established over at least 30% of New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone within 10 years. The recent agreement by the Government to establish a 620,000 square kilometre marine sanctuary around the Kermadec Islands, as result of a campaign by Forest & Bird and other partners, gives hope this target is also achievable.

An exciting new part the strategy identifies that nature does not recognise political boundaries. Many of New Zealand’s indigenous species migrate through the region and across oceans. Forest & Bird intends to work with partners in the Pacific and globally to protect and restore the habitats of New Zealand’s indigenous species, wherever they migrate. Building international partnerships and also undertaking international projects to enhance the protection or habitat of a New Zealand migratory species is part of the strategy.

Ambitious the strategy is, but for New Zealand’s biggest and oldest nature conservation agency, and its 70,000 members and supporters, achieving the impossible has never been a restraint.

The strategy can be downloaded here.

Forest & Bird and Birds New Zealand complete the identification of New Zealand’s Marine Important Bird Areas: here.

Baby blue whale nursing, video


This video says about itself:

Baby Blue Whale Nursing (Exclusive Drone Footage)

2 March 2016

While researching pygmy blue whales in the South Taranaki Bight region of New Zealand, Leigh Torres used a drone to capture footage of a baby blue whale nursing. This is believed to be the first time that aerial footage has documented the nursing behavior of this endangered marine species.

Good Chatham Island tāiko news from New Zealand


This video from New Zealand says about itself:

Magenta Petrel, 15th January 2016, Sweetwater, Chatham Island

29 January 2016

Two of an estimated population of 100 birds. Perhaps the rarest petrel on earth. The ‘Taiko‘ is the focus of a recovery program centered around Sweetwater camp. The team of conservationists and their conservation work deserve attention.

From BirdLife:

Record breeding season for Chatham Island tāiko

By Kimberley Collins – Fledge Media, Thu, 25/02/2016 – 21:00

This year’s Critically Endangered Chatham Island tāiko breeding season has produced a record number of chicks. 22 birds hatched from 26 eggs, blowing the previous record of 13 chicks out of the water.

The Chatham Island tāiko, also known as Magenta Petrel Pterodroma magentae, is one of New Zealand’s most endangered species, with less than 150 birds left. They were thought to be extinct for almost a century until they were rediscovered by David Crockett in 1978. It wasn’t until 10 years later that the first signs of breeding were found on a remote corner of the Chathams.

Chatham Island Tāiko Trust coordinator Mike Bell is thrilled with the news and says it will be a great step towards protecting these critically endangered petrels. “For a bird as endangered as tāiko – it’s an amazing boost. There are only 26 pairs of these birds in the whole world (the rest are too young to breed), so every chick counts in protecting and building the population.” The breeding season was not without drama as the 22nd chick to hatch was raised as a “foster egg” after it was left by a pair of first-time breeders who laid the egg in the wrong part of the burrow. “We suspect they weren’t ready to breed because they didn’t lay their egg in the chamber of the burrow like usual. It looks like the female literally dumped the egg and left, then the male just stood around outside their burrow and didn’t sit on the egg for about 10 days before going off out to sea.”

One of the Taiko Trust staff members found the exposed egg, put it in his lunchbox, and quickly rushed it over to another pair who were sitting on an egg, which they had previously damaged. “These birds live in a burrow 3 metres deep – it’s completely dark in there and one of the parents could have accidentally stood on the egg or knocked it around a bit. It’s a dangerous life for a seabird egg or chick” says Mike Bell. “We weren’t even sure if the egg was fertile, but left it for a month then put a light behind it to see if there was a foetus – and there was! It was very exciting!”

But the new egg was laid much later than the foster parent’s original egg, so they had to stay in the burrow to incubate the egg for an extra two weeks. “We hoped for two weeks that they wouldn’t give up and stay on the egg. It was quite nerve-wracking. We checked every day to make sure an adult was still on the egg.” Finally the foster egg hatched earlier this week, signalling the final phase of this year’s breeding season. From now, the chicks will stay on the nest while both parents take turns going to sea to forage for food before fledging in May.

“Chick number 22 was a real bonus chick to be honest! Full credit goes to the foster pair for sticking it out and staying on the nest much longer.”

Rare New Zealand duck news


This video says about itself:

Rare pāteke birds relocated to new home

21 January 2016

One of New Zealand’s rarest mainland waterfowl is on the comeback with the help of local iwi and Forest and Bird. 80 pāteke were released into their new habitat in west Auckland yesterday in a bid to pull the species out of potential extinction.

See also here.

New Zealand fairy terns threatened by greed and ignorance


This video from New Zealand says about itself:

22 May 2014

Forest & Bird is working to create an alternative breeding site for our critically endangered New Zealand Fairy Tern on the Kaipara harbour. They once nested right around the North island, however now it has only four breeding sites in Northland — all of which lie adjacent to large coastal developments. Predation by cats, ferrets and stoats during the breeding season has worsened their population outlook, and although many of the sites have pest control, it’s people that remain their biggest threat.

Recently we received an ASB community trust grant to establish this alternative breeding site on the Kaipara Harbour and over the next three years, we will create a suitable shell-bank and conduct weeding and pest control in the area to lure breeding fairy terns to this spit. Click here for more information about our project; and click here to help Forest & Bird to continue to help fairy tern and develop other conservation projects.

From BirdLife:

New Zealand Fairy Tern – critically endangered tiny tern faces new threat

By Karen Baird, Tue, 26/01/2016 – 02:22

Around half of the ten or so New Zealand Fairy Tern pairs remaining in the world breed at the beautiful Northland harbour of Mangawhai. They nest on the enormous sandspit where the Department of Conservation and NZ Fairy Tern Trust maintain a trapping programme for predators and the nests are closely monitored during the breeding season. However in recent years the so-called Mangawhai Harbour Restoration Society (MHRS) have decided they want a mangrove-free harbour and applied to the planning authorities to allow removal of mangroves. In 2012 the Environment Court allowed for some removal in the middle harbour which was carried out this past winter. Conservationists have been concerned that removal of mangroves would deplete one of their major food resources, the gobies which live and feed amongst the mangrove pneumatophores. A foraging study was carried out by Karen Baird from the New Zealand BirdLife partner, Forest & Bird in collaboration with other scientists and published in Bird Conservation International (Ismar et al, 2014: Foraging Ecology and Choice of Feeding Habitat of the New Zealand Fairy Tern Sternula nereis davisae). The study showed that NZ Fairy Terns feed their chicks on these mangrove inhabiting gobies, preying on them when they move out of the mangroves at lower tide levels and into channels and pools on the tidal flats.

MHRS have now unveiled plans for a ‘stage two’, to remove more mangroves. This is despite a ruling already by the Environment Court that the area they’ve targeted should remain. There is increasing pressure in northern New Zealand from Tauranga northwards for councils to relax planning rules around mangroves which have previously enjoyed reasonable protection due to their high ecological values.

Mangroves are continually the target of prejudice, considerable misunderstanding and what amounts to a concerted campaign often based on misinformation. These negative views on mangroves include that they are: an introduced ‘pest’ plant which is taking over our northern harbours, limiting people from enjoying open space for speed boats and jet skis; obstacles to marina developments and reclamations, and are seen by developers as reducing the attractiveness of the coastal properties they hope to sell.

Mangroves are native to New Zealand. Their ecological value as nurseries for marine life is well known, they are home to threatened bird species such as the Australasian Bittern and Banded Rail, and act as natural buffers protecting shorelines from erosion.

For the NZ Fairy Tern more mangrove removal could spell disaster, if it is not already too late given the extent of the clearance work to date. It is critical that these terns can access productive foraging grounds near to their breeding sites, especially along the mangrove lined channels of the Mangawhai Harbour. This allows sufficiently frequent nuptial feeding of the nesting female when she’s incubating, chick feeding and post-fledgling tuition which runs for an extended period in this species. There are warning signs from across the Tasman. The reproductive failure in the closely related Australian Fairy Tern at Coorong was the result of lack of suitable prey near their foraging grounds. Baird and colleagues are now conducting a follow-up study of the goby population in the harbour since removal of mangroves so far. In addition Forest & Bird is engaging with the Northland Regional Council who are reviewing their planning documents to encourage recognition of this site (as well as others) as an Important Bird Area requiring greater protection, not less.

Serco private prison hell in New Zealand


This video from New Zealand says about itself:

24 July 2015

Patrick Gower and Lisa Owen lay out the timeline of the allegations at Mt Eden Prison and uncover more of Serco‘s shortfalls.

By Tom Peters in New Zealand:

Inhumane conditions in privately run New Zealand prison

19 December 2015

The National Party government announced on December 9 that it will not renew the contract for UK-based company Serco to manage Auckland’s Mount Eden Prison when the contract expires in 2017.

The announcement followed months of revelations about the inhumane conditions at the remand prison. Since the government privatised management of Mt Eden in 2011, Serco has been served with 55 breach of contract notices for a wide range of issues, including understaffing, inadequate staff training and leaving dangerous items like razor blades in prisoners’ possession.

Video footage emerged in the media during July showing organised “fight clubs” among inmates and at least one Serco guard. There have been claims that guards also failed to stop beatings among prisoners.

Former prisoner Kevin Mussard is taking legal action against Serco, claiming it failed to prevent him being almost beaten to death. The family of Alex Littleton has also blamed Serco for not stopping an attack on him in February when he was allegedly thrown from a prison balcony and broke both his legs.

An Ombudsman’s report released this month revealed that under Serco’s management around 70 remand prisoners aged 16 to 19 were being confined to their cells 23 hours a day, apparently because staff cuts meant they could not be supervised. The report noted that prisoners’ conditions had worsened since a similar critical report in 2014. In April that year, the Ombudsman’s office warned against the practice of locking up teenage prisoners for 19 hours a day.

Such solitary confinement has been defined by the United Nations as inhuman and degrading punishment, which may sometimes amount to torture. Then corrections minister Sam Lotu-Iiga told Fairfax Media on December 3 that the practice was “unacceptable” but added: “That’s the nature of our prisons … they are hard places.”

In response to media coverage of the prisoner “fight clubs,” the Corrections Department took over the running of Mt Eden Prison in July. In a further attempt at damage control, this month Prime Minister John Key replaced Lotu-Iiga with Judith Collins as corrections minister.

Serco, however, will retain its 25-year contract to run Wiri Prison, which opened in May in South Auckland. Key told the media that Serco would also be allowed to “re-pitch or re-tender” for the Mt Eden contract in 2017. At her swearing-in on December 14, Collins declared that she had no regrets about awarding Serco the contract to run Mt Eden when she was previously corrections minister at the end of 2010.

The government is committed to private prisons as part of its austerity agenda, aimed at cutting costs and boosting corporate profits at the expense of working people. It is moving to sell off thousands of state houses, privatise more welfare services and expand for-profit charter schools.

For years the government covered up the unsafe and inhuman conditions at Mt Eden Prison. The Corrections Department issued no more than financial wrist slaps for Serco’s repeated breaches of prisoner safety. On April 1, Lotu-Iiga assured parliament that the prison had an “excellent” record, claiming “it is one of the highest-performing prisons in New Zealand.”

Serco has been implicated in human rights abuses elsewhere. Since 2009, the company has operated prison-like detention camps in Australia where asylum seekers are held indefinitely in atrocious conditions. There has been a litany of protests, hunger strikes, suicides and reports of abuse by detainees, including last month’s riot at the Christmas Island detention centre following the death of refugee Fazel Chegeni.

At the Serco-run Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre in England, detainees have alleged verbal, physical and sexual abuse by staff, limited legal representation, scant access to interpreters and poor standards of health care.

New Zealand’s main opposition Labour and Green Parties called for the government to immediately sack Serco. Labour’s corrections spokesman Kelvin Davis, posing as a champion of prisoners’ rights, told the media on December 9: “Private prisons just aren’t working. They haven’t worked overseas and they’re not working here … [Corrections Minister] Judith Collins brought [Serco] in and now she has to sort the mess out that she started.”

Such statements are profoundly hypocritical. For a start, the country’s first privately-run prison was Auckland Central Remand Prison, operated by Australasian Correctional Management (ACM) from 2000 to 2005, during the Labour government of Prime Minister Helen Clark. Labour and its coalition partner, the “left wing” Alliance Party, agreed to honour ACM’s five-year contract to run the prison, signed by the previous National government in 1999. Legislation to ban private prisons was not passed until 2004.

While criticising the abuses at Mt Eden Prison, Labour agrees with National’s basic agenda of austerity and privatisation. It has made no pledge to renationalise power companies or social housing if it wins the 2017 election.

Successive governments have promoted hard-line “law and order” policies, including tougher jail sentences and increased police powers, to deal with the social tensions produced by the crisis of capitalism. The 1999–2008 Labour government opened four new prisons and oversaw a 36 percent increase in prisoner numbers, from 4,917 in 1999 to 7,771 by the end of 2007 (by the end of 2014 the figure reached 8,641). By 2006, New Zealand’s incarceration rate was one of the highest in the OECD, with 185 prisoners for every 100,000 people, more than double the rate in 1987.

Labour oversaw squalid and dangerous conditions in publicly-run prisons. An Ombudsman’s report from December 2005 found that prisons were struggling with soaring prisoner numbers. Many were kept in their cells with nothing to do for up to 15 hours a day. A report by the New Zealand Herald on February 28, 2006, noted that “as the nation’s prisons have filled to overflowing, police cells have been called in to hold surplus prisoners for days and sometimes weeks.”

The Herald reported that 95 percent of prisoners with drug and alcohol problems could receive no treatment in 2006 due to a lack of programs. It also pointed out that the 140-year-old Mt Eden Prison building was in a severe state of disrepair, with “sub-standard conditions for inmates (e.g. insufficient day light and day space)” and sewage flooding onto the exercise yard.

Conditions have worsened under National, which introduced double-bunking in some prisons in 2009 (installing bunks in cells intended for one person). A report on New Zealand by the United Nations Committee Against Torture, released in May, criticised overcrowding and inadequate health services for prisoners, the high number of assaults at Mount Eden, and the disproportionate rate of imprisonment among Maori.