Press Release: New Zealand to close ivory trade

Sep 10, 2020 | Press Releases

By Jane Goodall Institute New Zealand

The Jane Goodall Institute New Zealand (JGINZ) has welcomed the Government’s proposed changes to legislation to close down New Zealand’s steadily-growing elephant ivory trade, but is warning exemptions could undermine efforts to protect elephants.

Jane Goodall Institute New Zealand Ambassador, and environmental policy analyst, Fiona Gordon has been at the forefront of national efforts to lobby for this change and says while the proposed changes will see New Zealand taking much needed action on this internationally significant issue, the domestic trade in ivory here has been growing at a concerning rate for a number of years.

“Thousands of elephants are slaughtered each year for their tusks, and our unregulated ivory trade has been grossly out of step with the rest of the world for far too long. Research indicates New Zealand’s domestic ivory trade doubled in size between 2016 and 2019. Many countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, France and China, have already closed their domestic ivory trades.”

The proposal announced this week by Hon Eugenie Sage, Minister of Conservation, includes a ban on the domestic sale of elephant ivory, with an exemption for items acquired before 1975, and a ban on the import and export of elephant ivory, with narrow exemptions.

“We’re grateful for the support of so many people and organisations here in New Zealand and around the globe who sought action on this issue,” says Ms Gordon.

“We will now be turning our attention to the detail of the amendment Bill, including the specific exemptions proposed, and preparing to participate in the public consultation process to ensure the final legislation is robust enough to make an impact.

“Many of the ivory items for sale in New Zealand are ivory carvings with little or no verifiable information on their age or source. This could undermine the ability of the legislation to shut down the trade effectively, and is why we will continue to advocate for robust legislation that can make a meaningful difference to international elephant conversation efforts.”


For more information contact Fiona Gordon – Jane Goodall Institute New Zealand, Wildlife Trade Ambassador, and Environmental Policy Analyst – +64 2 73738 277 or

Additional information

According to Department of Conservation data, between 2010 and 2016 more than 5,000 elephant ivory items crossed our borders for personal, trade and hunting purposes.  Less than 415,000 African elephants remain in the wild today.

The two New Zealand convictions for illegal trade in ivory involved thousands of dollars-worth of ivory. Some of that illegally imported ivory was traded on the domestic market under the guise of legality.

Jane Goodall Institute New Zealand Submission to Government

Jane Goodall Institute New Zealand Open Letter, calling for the closure of New Zealand’s domestic trade in elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn (2018)

JGINZ website information on New Zealand Ivory Trade

The Jane Goodall Institute of New Zealand

The Jane Goodall Institute New Zealand exists to undertake work on global and local sustainability issues and to inspire and empower people to take action to make the world a better place for animals, people, and the environment.

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