New heights for Piron­gia restora­tion group

Hamilton Metro News - - FRONT PAGE -

A group ded­i­cated to re­turn­ing en­dan­gered kokako to Mt Piron­gia has won a top na­tional hon­our for its ef­forts.

The Piron­gia Te Aroaro o Kahu Restora­tion So­ci­ety won the Pro­tect­ing our Bio­di­ver­sity award at the Green Rib­bon Awards on Thurs­day night, top­ping three other or­gan­i­sa­tions also com­pet­ing for the award.

The 27th an­nual Green Rib­bon Awards cel­e­brated out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tions by in­di­vid­u­als, com­mu­ni­ties and or­gan­i­sa­tions to pro­tect and man­age New Zealand’s en­vi­ron­ment.

The award recog­nised the group’s work in the eco­log­i­cal restora­tion of Mt Piron­gia, in par­tic­u­lar re­turn­ing the long lost kokako to the moun­tain.

Chair­woman of the group, Piron­gia Ward coun­cil­lor Clare St Pierre, says she is “over the moon” about re­ceiv­ing the award.

The so­ci­ety hopes to rein­tro­duce the first kokako to Mt Piron­gia later this year.

Kokako were once abun­dant on Mt Piron­gia but di­min­ished due to con­stant pest threats. The last birds were re­moved in the 1990s and trans­ferred to Tir­i­tiri Matangi and Kapiti is­lands.

The Piron­gia Te Aroaro o Kahu Restora­tion So­ci­ety formed in 2002 to see kokako rein­tro­duced to the moun­tain.

The so­ci­ety has faced a num­ber of chal­lenges, in­clud­ing man­ag­ing rat and pos­sum pop­u­la­tions, is­sues with the ge­netic health and long-term vi­a­bil­ity of source pop­u­la­tions, and cre­at­ing a suit­able habi­tat.

In 2006 the so­ci­ety be­gan pest con­trol on Mt Piron­gia and since then, na­tive bird num­bers have been steadily climb­ing.

The so­ci­ety then de­vel­oped a translo­ca­tion pro­posal, which in­cluded fund­ing DNA re­search at Lit­tle Bar­rier Island to es­tab­lish suit­abil­ity of those birds to found a new pop­u­la­tion.

Bar­bara Kuriger, Na­tional MP for Taranaki-King Coun­try, says the awards are a great way to show­case an im­pres­sive ar­ray of ini­tia­tives mak­ing a dif­fer­ence to nat­u­ral as­sets and wildlife.

“I’m im­mensely proud of the work that the Piron­gia Restora­tion So­ci­ety does, and re­cently at­tended the Songs for Kokako char­ity con­cert and auc­tion to raise aware­ness for the in­cred­i­ble work they are do­ing.

“I have the utmost re­spect for the so­ci­ety’s vol­un­teer’s com­mit­ment to their work and to our nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment and its birds.”

Piron­gia Te Aroaro o Kahu Restora­tion So­ci­ety mem­bers: Chair­woman Clare St Pierre (right) and sec­re­tary Dianne June.

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