Na­tional kiwi strong­hold at Maun­gatau­tari

Waikato News - - News -

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.

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