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Letter from the Chairman of the RBST to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

Rt Hon Helen Clark
Prime Minister
PO Box 18888
Parliament Buildings

1 January 2008


Dear Prime Minister

I am Chairman of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) founded in the UK in 1973. Over the past thirty or more years RBST has established an international reputation for its pioneering conservation work across the range of farm animal species and my organisation is respected in governmental and academic circles well beyond the shores of the UK.

It is with dismay that during this holiday season I have become aware of plans to shoot a significant proportion of Arapawa goats on that island and I consider it my duty as a committed conservationist to urge you and your government to reconsider these plans.

It is clear that this goat is a genetically unique example within the species and its development within Arapawa over some 200 years provides a reservoir of genetic material which is irreplaceable. A breed with two centuries of development in an enclosed environment has rarity value which qualifies for protection as an historic breed under the Rio Convention on World Biodiversity. Whatever its pre-Arapawa origins this animal is now inescapably part of New Zealand and world heritage and the scientific studies of this breed deserve full consideration and in themselves are sufficient grounds for this proposed cull to be called off..

DNA analysis of these animals was undertaken by D.P Sponenberg, DVM., PhD, Professor of Pathology and Genetics, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine and the work was carried out at the University of Cordoba. The results support their unique genetic status and as such they deserve protection rather than persecution and destruction.

Taking a political stand against this plan will not be easy but it should fall well within the mission statement of your Conservation Department - namely: "to conserve New Zealand's natural and historic heritage for all to enjoy now and in the future - ko ta Te Papa Atawhai he whakaute he tiaki i nga taonga koiora me nga taonga tuku iho hei painga mo te katoa inaianei, mo ake tonu ake. Stopping the cull will send a significant signal about the value which the modern world places on its livestock heritage. Conversely, if the cull goes ahead as planned it will send a louder and less welcome message to future generations.

Yours sincerely