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Leaders launch Save Manumea campaign

Samoa's mission to save its national bird received a boost of attention with the launch of a year-long conservation effort at the New Zealand High Commission.

The Save the Manumea campaign is a joint effort by groups including the Samoa Conservation Society, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (M.N.R.E.) and the Falease’ela Environmental Protection Society.

Its first official activity was the unveiling of a two-storey mural of the Manumea on the wall of the New Zealand High Commission, where Deputy Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata'afa and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had the honour of cutting the ribbon.

"The campaign being launched today is designed to do more than simply raise awareness of the Manumea, it will also ask us to consider changing the actions many of us are still taking which put our national bird at risk," Fiame said.

The mural should raise awareness that the Manumea is not only Samoa's national bird but also at risk, she added.

Ms. Ardern thanked Fiame for missing the Samoa vs. Tonga rugby test at Apia Park, and said New Zealand and Samoa have a shared passion for conservation.

"We do not have a perfect history in Aotearoa but we are dedicated to making sure we perform our role as Kaitiakitanga; as guardians of those species that call New Zealand home, in the same way you are doing here with the Manumea," the visiting Prime Minister said.

"I am so pleased to see we have united some of our best and brightest together to form a strategy around how to preserve a species that I understand has only 70 and 200 left."

The Manumea was added to the red list of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (I.U.C.N) in 2016, and their numbers are decreasing.

Pigeon hunting and deforestation of its natural habitats are the two main drivers for its decline.

"We can share some of our [learning] with one another as you seek to ensure the Manumea has a bright future," Ms Ardern said.

Samoa Conservation Society President James Atherton said Samoans needed to grow more than awareness of the threats facing the Manumea but also a greater appreciation for the bird, if it is to secure the long-lasting changes to behaviour that will keep them alive.

"That is really what underpins every effort that is meaningful and long-lasting; a real belief that it is important,” Mr Atherton said.

The Save the Manumea Campaign is funded by: M.N.R.E Sustainable Multi Sector Management of Critical Landscapes, Auckland Zoo, Flinch Marketing, the New Zealand Department of Conservation, Wellington Chocolate Factor, Bluebird Lumber and Hardware, Faleaseela Environment Protection and the Green Climate Fun Vaisigano Catchment Project.

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