Astonishing reversal of fortunes at sanctuary – Environment

Astonishing reversal of fortunes at sanctuary – Environment – NZ Herald News

Tiritiri Matangi's historic lighthouse, which is now solar powered. Photo / Derek Flynn

The birds on Tiritiri Matangi Island haven’t seen a rat in 15 years.

Despite the thousands of visitors who arrive on hundreds of ferry trips and uncounted private boats each year – each one a potential rat-carrier – not one rodent has made it to shore since 1993.

The result is a thriving bird paradise where takahe, kokako, penguins and kiwi live much as they did thousands of years ago – with the exception that they are now visited by 32,000 humans a year.

It’s a remarkable turnaround for what was once a rat-infested island just north of Auckland – transformed by volunteers from barren farmland to dense native bush over 10 years.

The Department of Conservation (DoC) scientific reserve was a working farm until the 1970s; and before that the Kawerau-A-Maki and Ngati Paoa iwi lived there for centuries.

Volunteers began planting trees in 1984, forming the 1800-strong Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi Inc five years later when they began to run short of money.

Nowadays the group that calls itself “the supporters” is entrusted with delicate work normally reserved for experts and scientists.

DoC spokeswoman Liz Maire said the supporters had been around just one year fewer than DoC – 20 years last year.

“It’s not just doing bits and pieces anymore,” said Ms Maire. “They’re doing work that used to be done by experts, in other words scientists and DoC people.”

One volunteer, Simon Fordham, a supporter of 16 years who works as a medical supplies importer, is helping organise a transfer of native species from another island. His wife Morag, a volunteer guide on the island, works with nests of rare kokako.

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Park aims to attract native birds to city life – Environment

Park aims to attract native birds to city life – Environment – NZ Herald News
Allan Parker says volunteers are raising money to build fences at  the regional park.

Melodic bellbirds, bright green kakariki and cheeky kaka could be popping into city slickers’ backyards if a mainland bird sanctuary succeeds north of Auckland.

The native birds are expected to thrive after the Auckland Regional Council fences a 555ha wildlife sanctuary on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula at the end of this year.

Although there are other “mainland island” sanctuaries for wildlife, this will be the closest to Auckland – 40 minutes by car or a bus trip from the central city.

ARC open sanctuary co-ordinator Matt Maitland said it would be the most popular sanctuary yet, following successful “mainland islands” in Wellington, Dunedin, Maungatautari and Tawharanui.

The plan is to fence off Shakespear Regional Park at the tip of the peninsula and then poison predators in the park.

It is hoped bellbirds and kakariki will move along the peninsula to suburban areas, while land-lubbers like kiwi and takahe will have a safe home close to Auckland.

Each year, about 20,000 people make the ferry trip from Auckland to Tiritiri Matangi, a thriving island bird sanctuary 4km off the peninsula. But although kakariki and bellbirds make the journey the other way to the park, weasels and rats make it hard for them to breed.

Mr Maitland said the bird populations would explode once the predators were gone. By the end of the first summer, they would be flying down the peninsula towards Auckland. Once pests had been killed, flightless birds such as kiwi would be given a helping hand to the park by conservation workers.

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