The whales are beaching themselves on our shores, and we seem powerless to stop them. In yet another incident of cetacean silliness, 70 whales have been stranded on Farewell Spit in Golden Bay.
So what is really going on? Who is to blame? And can we do anything to prevent these mass strandings?
We asked a number of politicians, business leaders, activists and commentators for their views.
Winston Peters, New Zealand First leader:
This government’s reckless and dangerous immigration policies are responsible for these waves of whale strandings. Instead of getting tough with whales, we open our beaches to all and sundry. “Welcome to New Zealand, please make yourself comfortable,” we tell these unwelcome guests.
It’s high time we adopted a sensible approach towards whale strandings, ensuring that only those whales that have something to contribute to the nation are allowed into New Zealand. We could start by insisting that whales at least speak English.
Our country’s current immigration policy is a disgrace and a shambles, and John Key is to blame.
It’s time to put a stop to this nonsensical whale welfare.
Rescuing whales is costing the government a fortune, and there seems no end in sight to the demands being made on the taxpayer by these animals.
We have seen time and time again how pods of whales are beached and then refloated, only to end up beaching themselves again. These whales just won’t take responsibility for their own behaviour.
Surely the time has come to cut the purse strings and let these creatures either sink or swim. Every time we rescue a whale and send it back out to sea we are reinforcing negative behaviours. Why should they bother watching where they are going while the gullible taxpayer continues to foot the bill every time a whale is beached?
Colin Craig, Conservative Party leader:
I’m certainly not saying that the whale strandings have all been staged, because I haven’t really looked into the matter. But there’s obviously an element of recklessness involved with the decision by some of these whales to beach themselves, and I wonder if some of the problems may be the result of poor parenting and a lack of positive role models. Young whales nowadays are confronted by so many different temptations that it’s no wonder some of them are being led astray.
It’s also clear that whale parents need more tools in their arsenal to deal with problem kids, which is why we are demanding a change in the law to allow them to smack their unruly whale calves. An occasional light smack on the fin might have made all the difference to some of these young whales, setting them up on the right path and away from treacherous beaches and sandbars.
Chris Finlayson, Attorney General:
[declined a formal interview, citing the War on the Oxford Comma, and other pressing commitments]
Gabriel Makhlouf, Treasury Secretary:
The research shows that market-based solutions are the key to reducing the incidence of whale strandings. Government interference in the market has historically resulted in distortions and inefficiencies, and has led directly to a number of whales being left beached. A more favourable business environment, in which regulatory constraints are removed and taxes are reduced, would almost certainly reduce the number of strandings.
Our modelling has shown that once these constraints on growth are removed, whales will be incentivised to be more productive, instead of dying pointlessly on the beach.
David Cunliffe, Labour Party leader:
This is a government asleep at the wheel. John Key has no plan to deal with the ongoing whale stranding problem. This is a man completely out of touch. The effects of a stranding on a pod of whales can be devastating, and entire whale communities are being decimated as a result of National’s hands-off approach.
2014 is election year, and we’ll be campaigning hard to make sure the sea mammals of New Zealand hold this uncaring and out of touch government to account.
Phil O’Reilly, Business New Zealand CEO:
The whale problem is one of burble burble, which creates challenges for businesses looking to burble their burble.
If we are serious about addressing the whale problem, then we need to burble burble added-value burble burble knowledge economy burble burble.
Our can-do Kiwi number-8 burble attitude has led to a number of successful burbles. That’s why it’s so important to burble burble, but with the right mix of burble burble.
The key to refloating these whales is to make the boat go faster, which is why burble burble cutting red tape, export-driven economy burble. Employment law reform will also enable businesses to burble burble, while creating certainty for those employers who burble.
If whales can move themselves further up the value chain, then burble burble competitive advantage burble burble, creating a win-win.
Penny Bright, activist:
These whales have been deliberately stranded and left to die because of political corruption at the highest levels. They are victims of a vicious corporate agenda by big business and multinationals, aided and abetted by a criminally corrupt government.
I hereby demand that the Serious Fraud Office INNEDIATELY INVESTIGATES THIS MATTER, with the UTMOST URGENCY!
WAKE UP, PEOPLE OF AOTEAROA! THEIR FLUORIDE IS EVERYWHERE! DON’T DRINK THE WATER!
[Editor: twenty pages of website hyperlinks and correspondences with the Serious Fraud Office have been omitted]
Dr Russel Norman, Green Party co-leader
This is entirely the fault of climate change.
I’m sorry, what was it you wanted to talk to me about?
This is a national disgrace. The Department of Conservation are actively helping these animals, but what about their victims? Who is looking out for them?
We know for a fact that some of these animals are killer whales. These whales can’t do any harm to anyone while they are stranded on the beach, but once at sea a large number of them will go on to kill again.
Far too many do-gooders are making excuses for these monsters. Look how many people rush down to the beach when they hear of a stranding. It’s crazy that everyone wants to help the whales, when these despicable beasts are responsible for so much misery and pain. How much more suffering must the krill community endure?
The people of New Zealand have had a gutsful of this constant pandering to cetacean criminals.