A dream life for animals and birds
Mana Island is one of the the Wellington region’s best-kept secrets.
The island off the coast of Porirua is a key conservation spot and home to many endangered species.
Department of Conservation ranger Jeff Hall lives on the island and is responsible for its day-to-day upkeep and protection.
‘‘Being predator and pest-free, it is one of a handful of islands that can sustain species that won’t survive on the mainland. One of my biggest tasks is to ensure the island remains predator free,’’ he said.
In 2011 when a rat got on to the sanctuary, it caused havoc among the bird population and almost decimated the nationally endangered shore plover.
‘‘That was a big realisation in terms of the impact one thing can have on such vulnerable species,’’ Hall said.
The rat caused birds to leave the island to nest inland.
Last winter the last couple of pairs of shore plover living on the island were taken into captivity to breed.
In many ways arriving on the island is like being in a time warp. It is quiet, and animals and birds roam as if humans do not exist.
All rubbish is taken off the island and the toilet waste goes to a sewage lake.
The only buildings are a historic woolshed and a few 1970s buildings.
Hall said that replanting the island’s forest canopy was done with help from community groups like Friends of Mana Island and Forest & Bird. More than 500,000 trees have been planted.
Until recently, visitor numbers were low.
said, on some weekends up to 40 people visited on private boats.
‘‘The island has developed to the point where there is quite a bit for people to see. It’s becoming more of a destination.’’
More school groups have been visiting and education is becoming a key role of the reserve.
‘‘It’s a fantastic learning opportunity. It’s a place where people can see some of these species and some of the history.’’
With the increase of visitors comes environmental threats.
The Department of Conservation took on Mana Island in 1987. In 1998 the Waikoko wetland was developed where a wetland existed before the island became a farm in 1832.
Today the island is home to the Cook Strait giant weta, takahe, brown teal, McGregor’s skink, yellow-crowned kakariki and goldstripe gecko.
Good catch: Ranger Jeff Hall checks a rodent trap.