New heights for Pirongia restoration group
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.