Jane Goodall's message to New Zealand

A woman most known for her work with chimpanzees and orangutans is not impressed by the US President monkeying around on climate issues.

Jane Goodall is touring New Zealand, and spoke exclusively to Newshub's Samantha Hayes during her time in Dunedin.

She says Donald Trump's attitude towards the planet is bewildering.

"I cannot understand somebody who's been elected President of the United States standing up and saying that he doesn't believe that carbon dioxide emissions have led to the warming up of the planet and that science is wrong and not to be listened to. I just don't understand some of these things."

But if she was invited to the White House, Dr Goodall says she wouldn't hesitate to go - as long as it was private, and not in the media's glare.

"When you talk to someone who disagrees with you, you can have an argument - [it] doesn't work. The only way I've found to reach people are stories that reach the heart, so you have to spend a bit of time."

The famous ethologist is also pushing back at an old proverb that suggests those who live today decide how the planet will be tomorrow.

"It's not true. We have been stealing the future from our children, and we're still stealing it. If we care about them - and most people do - then we have to get together and turn things around before it's too late."

A small part of that is ending the destruction of native habitats, such as the Indonesian rainforests where endangered orangutans live.

Much of these rainforests have been cleared to make way for palm oil plantations. Dr Goodall says all palm oil products should be labelled so people can avoid using them.

"The destruction of old growth forests where the orangutans live, that's a huge problem, which New Zealand again can do something about by insisting on labelling products that have palm oil in them.

"I think it's just so important for every single person to realise that they make a difference every day, and if we make ethical choices, try to leave light ecological footprints we'll start moving towards a better world."

Watch Newshub Live at 6pm on Monday for Samantha Hayes' exclusive TV interview.

Dr Goodall will speak at the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington on Monday night, followed by appearances at the Isaac Theatre Royal in Christchurch on Thursday and Auckland's Logan Campbell Centre on Saturday.

Newshub.