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Creating thriving populations of Kiwi and other native New Zealand birds around the Bay of Islands will be the initial focus of a new Princess Cruises program to support community activities in the destinations it visits.

Princess Cruises today launched "Princess Local Partnerships" with a $100,000 donation over the first year of the program, which will be funded by adult guests donating $2 via their onboard account.

The aim is to raise more than a $1 million over the next five years to be spent on community-based activities that will support conservation and culture in New Zealand.

The first project will focus on supporting community groups committed to conservation efforts and forest regeneration around the Bay of Islands and Northland to encourage the return of the iconic Kiwi and other native birds.

Princess Cruises Senior Vice President – Asia Pacific, Stuart Allison, said it made sense to begin the Princess Local Partnerships in New Zealand because Princess takes more guests to the country than any other cruise line. "Princess Local Partnerships is an extension of that deep relationship that already exists between the cruise line and its guests for communities across the Tasman," Mr Allison said.

"Our research tells us guests want to connect more deeply with the places they visit and give back to the local communities who so generously welcome us into what is effectively their backyard.

"With a modest donation, our guests will be able to use their small change to support some bigger initiatives that make a difference to the communities they visit."

Mr Allison said one of the many reasons the cruise line’s guests keep coming back to New Zealand was because of its unique natural heritage and amazing culture – which would be the focus of the Princess Local Partnerships program over time.

"For these reasons, it seemed a perfect choice to start the program in Bay of Islands because it reflects the natural beauty where the forest sweeps to the ocean as well as the rich cultural heritage of Waitangi with its great historical significance," he said. In these first stages of the program’s development, Princess Local Partnerships is teaming up with two volunteer-based local groups - Kiwi Coast and Bay Bush Action – which work together on helping native wildlife thrive and increasing Kiwi numbers.

Kiwi Coast brings together more than 120-community led conservation projects across the Northland region including the efforts of Bay Bush Action, which focuses on returning native birds, including Kiwi and sea birds, to Opua State Forest. This forest sits next to Paihia, which is regarded as the ‘gateway’ to Bay of Islands and a popular place for cruise ship visitors.

In addition to general conservation efforts, initial projects the fund will support include:

- Tree planting projects across streams, wetlands and forests in Northland around Waitangi, Kerikeri and the Northland region.

- Educating children through funding the development and publication of resources that can be used in conservation education across Northland.

- Supporting the rollout of a program that involves locally-based conservationists visiting more than 30 schools in Northland to raise awareness of the importance of protecting the forests. The program includes children adopting, painting and, ultimately, monitoring special Kiwi houses to protect the birds in the forest.

Kiwi Coast’s Andy Mentor said New Zealand has an amazing array of bird life - almost two-thirds of which are found nowhere else on earth such as the Kiwi and Pateke, the only flightless nocturnal parrot.

"I want to be part of creating an environment where Kiwi and other native birds thrive and safely roam throughout our forests in Northland, creating a modern-day ‘Kiwi corridor’ in this region," Mr Mentor said.

"We want to retain the natural beauty and unique natural heritage of Northland so that it is in a better state for future generations and stays a place that cruise passengers and other visitors can continue to enjoy forever more."

Bay Bush Action’s Brad Windust said New Zealand was the "seabird mecca" of the world.

"My one wish is that the forest and, in particular, the Opua State Forest that I love so much, will explode with wildlife again like it once did a couple of hundred years ago," Mr Windust said.

"We have something really unique here in the Bay of Islands with a massive backdrop of native forest that rolls right down to the ocean and I want to see it back to its former glory."

Princess Cruises Local Partnerships donations will start this cruise season, which will see five Princess ships visiting New Zealand ports. A season highlight will be the maiden visit of Ruby Princess to Bay of Islands on 2 December 2019.

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Meg Koffel | | +61481437735

Princess Cruises PR team |