People all over the world have responded to the plight of New Zealand’s critically endangered Maui’s dolphin. The Government called for submissions and received over 20,000 from people in New Zealand and all around the world wanting immediate action to save Maui’s dolphin from extinction.

As you know, Maui’s dolphin is the world’s smallest and most endangered marine dolphin. It is found only in New Zealand waters and the latest population estimate indicates only 55 adult dolphins remain alive. The sad truth is, they’re now outnumbered by our Members of Parliament.

The future of Maui’s dolphin is now in the hands of those politicians. To highlight this point to them we commissioned Wellington artist Sheyne Tuffery to produce 55 artworks representing the alarmingly small Maui’s dolphin population.The beautiful handmade woodblock prints, aptly titled ‘In your hands’, feature Maui’s dolphins and a tuatara – another New Zealand species to have faced extinction but now considered a national treasure.

Yesterday in Wellington we presented those 55 prints to 55 MPs, urging them to take immediate steps to protect Maui’s dolphin and give it a future. If they do, they’ll be able to look on these artworks with pride that they took action when it counted. It will be the art of survival. On the other hand, if they’re too slow, or, if the measures they agree are too weak, they’ll have a constant reminder of their failure to act. It will be the albatross around their necks.

This is a critical time. The Government is about to consider thousands of submissions on how it should deal with threats to Maui’s dolphin. There are steps which must be taken and have already been endorsed by two expert international groups as well as New Zealand scientists. The Government says the review process will take more than a month.

Image: Artist Sheyne Tuffery at yesterday's presentation with one of the 55 prints, titled 'In your hands' he produced for MPs . Greenpeace / Marty Melville