Scope of Wild Life Act of 1953
All animals (except noxious animals), birds, reptiles, and amphibians living in a natural state, and marine mammals and fish (which are given some protection by the Fisheries Act 1908), are classified as wildlife, and are protected by the constitution of any private or Crown land as wildlife refuges or wildlife sanctuaries under the Wildlife Act of 1953, administered by the Minister of Internal Affairs. Wildlife refuges, of which there are 188, give adequate protection to wildlife while affording considerable liberty of farming or other activity on the land. Wildlife sanctuaries are primarily habitat areas for wildlife where absolute protection is given and a wide range of restrictions can be imposed including restriction or prohibition of entry. There are 14 wildlife sanctuaries.
With few exceptions, the Wildlife Act gives some protection to all native birds, those with no protection being a cormorant (the large black shag), the harrier hawk, and a mountain parrot (the kea). Nine species are partially protected; and four other native birds, together with seven introduced species, are classified as game and may be taken under licence subject to special restrictions during seasons of limited duration. All other native birds are absolutely protected along with one introduced specimen, the mute or white swan. In addition to native birds, the tuatara, two species of bat, and the native frogs are protected. The measure of protection to native fauna has been steadily increased since 1907 when complete protection was first given to some native species, although this protection came too late to save birds such as the huia from extinction.