Jacinda Ardern’s gift to Joe Biden is labelled ‘appalling’ – with the New Zealand prime minister coming under fire for showing a ‘lack of care’
- Jacinda Ardern’s gift to Joe Biden slammed by environmentalists as ‘appalling’
- NZ PM gave US President a kauri bowl – harvested from trees as old as 60,000
- Harvesting the trees from wetlands and sacred sites can be destructive
- Manufacturer has faced legal action over exporting kauri to China
Jacinda Ardern’s gift for US president Joe Biden has been labelled ‘appalling’ by environmentalists who say the Prime Minister has shown a ‘lack of care’.
The New Zealand leader brought the US President a swamp kauri bowl made from glazed timber harvested from trees that have been buried in peat swamps for up to 60,000 years in the country’s North Island.
The head of the Northland Environmental Protection Society slammed the ‘faux pas’, saying Ms Ardern shouldn’t have promoted the exchange of indigenous plants and the harm the extraction process causes on the ecosystem.
‘To us swamp kauri, of all things for a gift to America, is really not on. It’s shocking after all the work we’ve gone through to try and protect these wetlands that produce the swamp kauri,’ chair Fiona Furrell told RNZ.
Jacinda Ardern’s gift for counterpart Joe Biden has been labelled ‘appalling’ by environmentalists who say the Prime Minister has shown a ‘lack of care’
Mr Biden was gifted a kauri bowl – a piece of wood harvested from trees that have submerged in wetlands for up to 60,000 years
The kauri trees are commonly found in wetlands and culturally important sites, which can be damaged or destroyed while they are being milled.
In 2018, A Supreme Court of New Zealand ruling, found that to be lawfully exported, a swamp kauri item must be a product in itself and in its final or kitset form and it must be ready either to be used or to be installed into a larger structure.
To make matters worse, Ms Ardern’s office confirmed the government had purchased the kauri bowl through businessman Nelson Parker, who was investigated in 2019 for exporting wood products to China.
The court found Mr Parker likely broke the Forests Act in exporting a large kauri log arrangement and called it art.
He was not prosecuted because the manufacturer was originally told the kauri was compliant, despite having conducted little work to change it from raw wood.
The kauri trees are commonly found in wetlands and culturally important sites, which can be damaged or destroyed while they are being milled
Ms Furrell said Ms Ardern should be doing a lot more ‘investigating’ before offering such polarising gifts and that her behaviour ‘wasn’t moral’.
‘Any use of swamp kauri that is featured by our government, therefore puts our our wetlands at risk, because people will want more swamp kauri now,’ Furrell said.
‘He [Biden] could make the decision himself. Perhaps it could be returned to New Zealand.’
In a response, Mr Parker said anyone who questioned the PM’s gift was a ‘parasite’ and said it was ‘rude’ to question her motives.
Ms Furrell said Ms Ardern should be doing a lot more ‘investigating’ before offering such polarising gifts and that her behaviour ‘wasn’t moral’
‘To think that people, somebody, can out of the goodness of their heart give a gift to somebody and then somebody comes in behind and says ‘well that’s wrong, it’s illegal, it’s immoral’ or whatever they say. To me that shows you the the quality of the people actually,’ he said.
‘To be quite blunt, these people, they’re probably listed as zero in my, my opinion, as far as I’m concerned.
‘I can pretty well describe these people to you, they probably don’t do anything. They’re parasites. As far as I’m concerned, if they want to meddle in what we do, well, then it’s not a wise thing to do.’