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World Animal Day, October 5th

We participated in World Animal Day in Auckland and our chair Christine Rose gave a speech. You can watch the video here and here is the text:

Kia ora tatou. Thanks for being here today, on this special occasion where we remember the endangered animals of the world, and seek blessings for them all. It’s wonderful to share the world – and today’s event, with non-human, and human animals. To think of orang-utans, zebras, narwhals, and polar bears! Think of your favourite animal… What a gorgeous rich planet we share –its diversity and its magnificence, enlivened by the ‘being’, of all animals. The will to live is strong in us all. Life is a blessing, and it’s as precious to any other animal as it is to us humans. It’s something special in all the universe. But we look for life on Mars, and make species extinct here on Earth. We treat animals like possessions, property, things. We imprison, exploit and endanger the innocents. We destroy their – and our, world. When we’ve wiped out 50% of the Earth’s species in the last forty years, creating the sixth great extinction, the Anthropocene, when we kill an elephant for its tusks every 15 minutes, reduce our own beautiful dolphins to the last 55, what next is in store? And how is it that here in New Zealand, a maritime nation, with one of its islands named after the DemiGod Maui, te ika a maui, cannot protect our own Maui dolphin? Hector’s dolphins also include separate species in isolated sub-populations. With some numbers so low they face likely extinction. One ancient name for Hector’s dolphins was tutumairekurai, which means life-long friend, but we treat them like we couldn’t care less. The World’s rarest, smallest, and most beautiful dolphins, found only here in New Zealand, but dozens drown in nets every year. The Government would tell you everything’s all right with that. We are not alright with that. Thankfully action is the antidote to despair. We will not give up on Maui’s and Hector’s dolphins. We owe it to every individual, curious, lovely little Maui or hector’s dolphin, and to the species, to ensure we collectively do them no harm. I don’t want dolphins dying in fisheries, drowning in nets, in my name. I can’t live with that on my conscience or my dinner plate. Those of us that love other animals besides ourselves, often find an intimacy rarely found with other human beings. In looking an animal in the eye we see so much of ourselves. There’s a capacity for love, humour, communication, relationships, a will to live in all sentient beings that we can’t ignore. And yet the world is strewn with gross injustices against animals. Our every day treatment of domestic, farmed and wild animals shows how far we have to go in our search for humanity within ourselves & others. The trades in meat, fur, body parts and live animals, the capture of wild cetaceans for entertainment, testing on animals for our vanities, all show we’re still in the dark ages in our moral treatment of them. Justice would demand that we recognise and respect the selfhood of animals. Enlightened places such as India are recognising the ‘non-human person’ status of cetaceans for example. Justice for animals would recognise animal rights, liberties and freedoms regardless of their use to us. Environmental justice would give dolphins the right to swim freely in the sea, elephants, safety to roam, pigs, freedom to bathe in mud. Martin Luther King said ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice’. The human moral journey is indeed a slow march. There was a time when women and blacks were treated as property and slaves. Animals are the next frontier. Well, like Martin Luther King, I have a dream too. I have a dream that the seas are filled with Maui’s & Hector’s dolphins. That whale populations recover. That elephants and rhinos are safe from superstition, poverty and greed. I have a dream that we grow our capacity for empathy and wisdom, and treat non-human and human animals with the love and kindness we’re capable of. Can we save Maui’s & Hector’s dolphins, our favourite megafauna, our planet? Yes we can. Must we save our animal companions here on beautiful earth. Yes, we must. Thank you

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