Trump’s guy goes green

Kapiti Observer - - FRONT PAGE - ADAM POULOPOULOS

Out of the of­fice, the United States’ new am­bas­sador to New Zealand has been lis­ten­ing to a dif­fer­ent kind of chat­ter – that of Kapiti Is­land’s na­tive birds.

Scott Brown and wife Gail Huff vis­ited the is­land in bril­liant sun­shine on Tues­day morn­ing, along­side rep­re­sen­ta­tives from DOC, the US em­bassy and lo­cal iwi.

The group were wel­comed to the is­land by mem­bers of Ngati Toa and Te Ati Awa, be­fore en­joy­ing a walk around the is­land and some sight­see­ing.

Brown, who is 23 days into a 31⁄ year post­ing, said he wanted the is­land to be one of his first of­fi­cial vis­its.

‘‘Com­ing here was some­thing we made a high pri­or­ity, to un­der­stand what is hap­pen­ing out here and im­prove the re­la­tion­ship.

‘‘It’s about bal­anc­ing life with na­ture, cre­at­ing jobs and liv­ing our lives and also re­spect­ing na­ture and our nat­u­ral as­sets.

‘‘I cer­tainly ap­prove of what’s hap­pen­ing on the is­land.’’

A keen triath­lete and hiker, Brown said com­ing to New Zealand had been his first choice as an am­bas­sado­rial ap­point­ment, and that the Kapiti Coast re­minded him of Cal­i­for­nia.

His is­land visit marked the con­struc­tion of a fence, built to stop North Is­land weka prey­ing on the eggs and chicks of a sooty shear­wa­ter colony, on the is­land’s west­ern cliffs.

The fence was built ear­lier this year, and was a joint ven­ture be­tween the US Em­bassy, DOC, iwi and vol­un­teers.

The visit also cel­e­brated con­ser­va­tion ac­tiv­i­ties the em­bassy has sup­ported as part of the 100-year an­niver­sary of the US Na­tional Park Ser­vice.

DOC di­rec­tor-gen­eral Lou San­son said the US stance on its na­tional parks was the trig­ger for New Zealand’s con­ser­va­tion pro­gramme.

He com­pared the push to make New Zealand preda­tor-free with John F Kennedy’s dream of putting man on the moon.

‘‘This [Kapiti Is­land] was the wake-up call that New Zealand had to do some­thing. This is the coun­try we want back.

‘‘It’s such a unique place, and the bird life is so unique.’’

Brown has led a var­ied life. A for­mer sen­a­tor for Mas­sachusetts, he was a promis­ing bas­ket­ball star as a young­ster be­fore em­bark­ing on a mil­i­tary ca­reer, ris­ing to the rank of colonel.

He also spent years as a male model in the 1980s.

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