'Gnuffs' hit Wellington streets
Mythical forest folk from Fiordland have left their natural wilderness behind and taken to the suburban streets of Wellington today.
Led by Southland District mayor Frana Cardno, the gnuffs (gnome forest folk of Fiordland) are in the capital collecting signatures for a Save Fiordland petition.
The petition is in protest at the threat of a proposed multimillion-dollar monorail in Fiordland and the Milford Dart Tunnel.
Wet weather was not dampening the spirits of protesters or their supporters, Mrs Cardno said.
''It's raining quite hard but the people in Wellington have been enthusiastic in showing their opposition to the monorail and tunnel,'' she said.
The world heritage area of Fiordland was a place many Wellingtonians had visited and wanted to keep pristine. Families, business people and children were stopping to add their names to the growing list of petitioners, she said.
The protest is being staged to coincide with Wearable Art Week, with the gnuffs wearing their traditional forest outfits.
Mrs Cardno said she was passionate about Fiordland's world heritage status and was proud to be a protesting gnuff in order to protect these special areas under threat.
Fellow Gnuff Mary Hill said Save Fiordland campaigners were overwhelmed at the nationwide and international level of support for our campaign to stop the tunnel and monorail projects.
Save Fiordland chairwoman Daphne Taylor said the gnuffs visit to Wellington was a continued effort to inform the rest of the country of the need to protect Fiordland's wilderness.
''There is a need to keep spreading the message and we are calling for the support of New Zealanders,'' she said.
Mrs Taylor said there was a call from the public for a hard copy of signatures and a physical sense of voicing opposition to the proposed developments.
Petition sheets were in circulation and would be until such time as they were needed, she said.
It was important to collect signatures for the petition in the event of the protest going before a select committee.
''Hopefully we won't need to go that far. But as a last resort we want to be ready to meet the requirements of parliament,'' Mrs Taylor said.
A 25,000-strong online petition from the Glenorchy based Stop the Tunnel group was presented to parliament in August and the Save Fiordland online petition has 1700 signatures.
The Southland Times