The joint conference of the Society for Ecological
Restoration Australasia (SERA) and the New Zealand Ecological
Society (NZES) was held in Hamilton on 20 November 2016. If you ever
doubted the level of public support for restoration and all that it
requires across New Zealand, then sitting in on this conference for
a day would certainly dispel it.
Of the almost 1,000 people present, attending
six parallel seminar streams, were the technical and scientific
muscle of conservation in New Zealand, alongside councils, volunteer
trusts and community heroes making the difference locally to their
own treasured places.
When you are walking amongst such people, the return of kokako to Te
Paparahi seems not just possible, but probable.
As well as the findings of Joanne Aley’s recent
masters research, three examples stood out – and for three
completely separate reasons: Wild for Taranaki for its strategy of
collaboration, prioritisation and urban engagement; North Auckland’s
Forest Bridge Trust for vision and focus on education and enabling
landowners; and the Moehau Environment Group’s Waikowau Bay
restoration for sustained learning and practical kiwi innovation.
spoke for Wild for Taranaki - an inspirational coalition of iwi,
government and private organisations who have agreed the restoration
hit-list for the whole of the Taranaki region. The aim is to get the
best for Taranaki rather than competing for the attention of funders.
And they’re starting in New Plymouth’s
catchment. Why? Because they know that to win the hearts and minds
of the public for region-wide change, they need to make a difference
in an urban area.
Launched in 2016, Wild for Taranaki is the
identity of the Taranaki Biodiversity Trust and is made up of 27
community groups, organisations and agencies involved in
conservation work in the region. Wild for Taranaki was formed when a
number of private trusts and NGOs realised there was too much
competition for funding and they needed to put Taranaki first and
prioritise what was saved and restored. As well as pooling
information and co-ordinating the work of its own members, Wild for
Taranaki administers the Community Biodiversity Fund, a funding pool
available for biodiversity projects that support the Trust’s
Trust. Gill and Kevin Adshead’s story of returning
kiwi and other species to their forests on the Kaipara is well
known. But instead of stopping on the Kaipara, they are going all
the way to the Pacific as one of six founding trustees of the Forest
They work alongside landowners to help them
manage their pieces of a coast to coast wildlife corridor, and with
‘Catchit Schools’ who manage pests and monitor results – a winning
combination of maths, science, ecology and community.
The Forest Bridge Trust was set up to engage
and unite landowners between the Kaipara and the east coast of the
North Island between Mangowhai and Matakana. The Trust has been
hugely successful in supporting landowners to fence streams, replant
and restore remnant forests.
The Trust works with schools to become ‘CatchIT
Schools’, a programme developed with the University of Auckland
that engages students in learning about threats to our native
species, motivating them to engage with nature and become hands-on
‘trappers’ in their own backyards. Students are drawn into
meaningful science and maths activities as they analyse data while
learning about pest and predator control.
And finally, from closer to home, the Moehau
Environment Group a number-eight wire story3
about a community working with the Department of Conservation and
the council and seeing the results in the Waikowau Bay wetlands.
The group includes volunteers and nine
landowners working collaboratively with the Department of
Conservation and regional council to manage pests in Waikowau Bay.
Early on, the Group realised that it had to
manage the estuary and surrounds as a total system – the estuary was
silting up, wiping out pipis. No fences meant cattle damage, with
the full suite of pests and weeds present. Baits and traps had to be
set on stakes out of reach of high water events and tied on with
rodent resistant old bike tyres.
Mataka/fernbirds are up from 26 individuals in
2006 to more than 200 today - mice and rats are the issue there -
and they’re enjoying banded rails on their lawns as well as visiting
spoonbills. Pateke/brown teal have been attracted to the area for
several years – now at 240 and growing, unlike declining populations
on Aotea/Great Barrier.
on the Coromandel Peninsula, where innovation and hard work have led
to significant biodiversity gains.
Photo: Moehau Environment Group
Taranaki – Initiating regional scale engagement to restore the
health of our environment. Leigh Honnor, ERA2016.
of biodiversity on private land in the Hoteo catchment, Kaipara.
Shona Myers, ERA2016.
wetland restoration in the Coromandel: A decade of practical action
and novel No.8 wire research. Wayne Todd, ERA 2016.
Aotea/Great Barrier Island - the biodiversity
of ‘our taonga’
While we do not
have the amount of data that Taranaki has on its ecosystems, we do
know that Aotea/Great Barrier is a biodiversity asset for New
· Largest tract of possum
and stoat-free forest in New Zealand, with no other mustelids, deer
· Site of highest
biodiversity in the Auckland region – Hirakimata, one of four
nationally significant biodiversity
sites on the island.
· Main New Zealand
populations for taiko/black petrel, pateke/brown teal, and chevron
· Regional stronghold for
kaka, kereru, dotterel, kakariki, banded rail and fernbird.
· Key site for bottlenose
dolphin population in the Hauraki Gulf.
· Situated on the ‘seabird
super highway’ (see article on page 4) and the potential to be a
‘hub’ if rats can be removed from even small
· Highest quality marine
environment - especially Port FitzRoy and the north east coast.
· Approximately 20% bigger
than Abel Tasman National Park – the majority in conservation estate
· Two pest-free
sanctuaries (at Windy Hill in the south, and Glenfern in the north)
and numerous private pest
management projects covering significant