Thousands of Kiwis give Shane Jones the Finger

Lot of fish fingers
© WWF-New Zealand
Press Release

Last month the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) New Zealand launched a cheeky campaign urging Kiwis to ‘Give Shane Jones the Finger’ until he commits to protecting 30% of our ocean by 2030.

Shane Jones’ ministerial inbox has since been flooded with almost six thousand digital fish fingers from concerned Kiwis wanting to see Aotearoa’s marine environment better protected. Over three thousand more have shared ‘the finger’ and tagged him on social media, while many also turned up to Auckland’s March for Nature on 8 June to join the movement.

WWF-New Zealand’s CEO, Dr Kayla Kingdon-Bebb, says this sends a clear signal that the public won’t stand for this Government prioritising short-term commercial interests over the health of our ocean and the wellbeing of our communities.

“Pointing to the six percent of the vote achieved by New Zealand First in the last general election, Shane Jones constantly claims he has a mandate to be ‘pro-industry’ – but the vast majority of New Zealanders certainly didn’t vote to trash our marine environment and consign threatened species like the Māui dolphin to extinction.

“Kiwis aren’t going to just sit back while Shane Jones destroys the ocean we all rely on just to line the pockets of a few of his industry mates,” she says.

“It’s clear from the overwhelming response we’ve had to this campaign that Kiwis care deeply about our ocean and the species that depend on it, and are demanding better.

“But this is just the start of our fight to protect our ocean. We’re building a movement of Kiwis concerned about our blue backyard so our political leaders wake up and listen.”

In response to the campaign, Shane Jones told WWF to “stick to its knitting” and continued to dismiss environmental NGOs as “green politburo banshees” and “screaming wetland birds”.

“Holding the Government of the day accountable for bad environmental policy and flawed decision-making is ‘our knitting’. It’s disappointing that Shane Jones continues to resort to misogynistic jibes and petty name calling instead of just getting on with his job,” says Kingdon-Bebb.

“Our campaign aims to give Kiwis a bit of a laugh, but it has a serious message at its heart, because we are – quite literally – killing our ocean.

“We know that 90% of our seabirds and 22% of our marine mammals are on the brink of extinction and key stocks like scallops and cray are now functionally extinct in some places - yet Shane Jones is continuing to bury his head in the sand and wilfully ignore the evidence that is right in front of him.”

“Is our Prime Minister really prepared to stand behind a senior minister who resorts to petty name-calling, turns a blind eye to scientific evidence, and rejects the very real concerns of New Zealanders as ‘eco-catastrophising’?”

“It’s time for Prime Minister Luxon to step up, realise Kiwis care about our ocean, and show New Zealanders that his Government is committed to looking after it – in line with the commitments they themselves set out in the National Party pre-election manifesto, Blueprint for a Better Environment.”

Just this year alone, Jones has scrapped plans for the vast Kermadec Rangitāhua Ocean Sanctuary, which would have brought New Zealand significantly closer to the ‘30 by 30’ target and helped to protect one of the most precious and untouched places on earth.

He also slashed protections for the world’s rarest sea lion, took an axe to proposals to reduce destructive bottom trawling in the South Pacific, and signalled that he wants to review the roll-out of cameras on boats – a programme which is essential for helping us understand the threats to our native species and better manage our commercial fisheries.

Most recently, the Government introduced a bill to Parliament under urgency which would automatically and arbitrarily extend consents on 1,200 marine farms by twenty years – stripping local communities of their ability to weigh in on these projects and potentially locking in unsustainable practices for decades.

Despite New Zealand committing in 2022 to the global target of ‘30 by 30’, less than one percent of our country’s ocean territory is safeguarded. Our ocean’s health is in crisis, with species declining at alarming rates.  

WWF says Kiwis can continue to get involved in the campaign at, or they can donate to WWF and help the organisation to continue to fight for marine protection.