Forest & Bird to work more closely with Māori

By Aroha Awarau

Forest & Bird's new chief executive is keen for her organisation to work more closely with Māori.  

Nicola Toki started her new role this month after being the director of operations for Eastern South Island for the Department of Conservation and its threatened species ambassador.  

“We’re at this time in our history where we are suddenly starting to ask each other, who are we as a nation? We’ve gone past 1955 New Zealand and therefore what are the opportunities and what does that mean?” she told

The not-for-profit organisation focuses on protecting the wildlife and wild places of Aotearoa. Toki has worked in a range of roles across the private and public sectors and is well-known as a champion for New Zealand’s natural world.

She says part of her focus in her new role will be looking at ways to have a close connection with iwi.

“I’m not going to be in a position where I would outline what Māori could do. What I’m really interested in, I want to have those conversations of 'Where are those shared aspirations and goals?'.”

“We can have a respectful and meaningful relationship without not having to be on the same page all the time. How do we find that magic point in the middle where we can work together? It’s where our country is at and where we want to go.”

"One of the things we want to understand from iwi is what does conservation look like for you? I know what it looks like from a western perspective. I think the real opportunity is what can we do differently that achieves these outcomes.”