National kiwi stronghold at Maungatautari
Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari has been announced as the national stronghold for western brown kiwi, with up to 500 new kiwi introduced to its reserve over the next five years.
The opportunity to use this predator- free environment was identified by Kiwis for kiwi, a national charity working alongside the Department of Conservation to turn around the national decline in kiwi populations from the current 2 per cent loss each year to a 2 per cent net gain.
Introduction of the new kiwi will enable Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari to continue to use its expertise to nurture and grow current kiwi populations.
At 47km, Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari has the longest pest- proof fence in the world, protecting 3363ha of ecological reserve and many of New Zealand’s endangered species.
The ecological restoration project that became a tourism venture recently celebrated 10 years as New Zealand’s largest mainland sanctuary.
John Simmons, general manager at Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari, says Kiwis for kiwi is essentially making a principal deposit into the mountain’s ecological bank.
“We are pleased to be able to play our part in kiwi conservation and look forward to seeing a return from the ecological restoration investment made to date.”
Western brown kiwi are one of four types of brown kiwi, which as a species occur naturally throughout the North Island and like other kiwi, have declined in number. There are an estimated 8000 western brown kiwi left in the wild.
Kiwis for kiwi is a national charity supporting communityled and Maōri- led kiwi conservation projects, with the vision of growing kiwi numbers across the country.
Michelle Impey, executive director of The Kiwi Trust, says Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari is a predator- free haven, which is currently well under capacity for carrying kiwi.
She says the target carrying capacity of Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari is estimated at 680 pairs of kiwi.
“We see an opportunity to create an endowment population of kiwi there and ensure it is a stocked kōhanga, or nest, which can supply other ecological reserves across the North Island with young kiwi to grow their populations.”
Although this is the first time a ‘ nest egg’ project of this scale will be implemented, Ms Impey says saving kiwi will continue to be a collaborative effort nationwide.
“The success of our strategy is very much dependent on the ongoing efforts of on- the- ground kiwi projects led by community groups, iwi, hapu¯ and wha¯nau groups, engaging in conservation work in kiwi habitats.”
Fondly known by locals as ‘ the maunga’, Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari is accessible to the public, currently attracting 12,000 visitors a year with an aim to have 50,000 visitors by 2021.
Its trust, Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust, is governed by a board of trustees comprising mana whenua, adjoining landowners and community trustees.