Jamie Morton is the NZ Herald's science reporter.

Auckland kiwi project gets cash boost

One of the Coromandel brown kiwi already translocated to Motutapu Island in the Hauraki Gulf. Photo / File
One of the Coromandel brown kiwi already translocated to Motutapu Island in the Hauraki Gulf. Photo / File

A project to bring more Coromandel brown kiwi to Motutapu Island in the Hauraki Gulf is among nine Auckland community-led conservation projects just awarded funding.

A $28,526 Government cash boost announced by Conservation Minister Maggie Barry would allow the Motutapu translocation project to transfer at least 16 more Coromandel brown kiwi to the island to establish a genetically viable population of 40 to 50 birds.

The project has translocated 24 birds to date.

Other efforts awarded grants through the Department of Conservation Community Fund included funding for a new iwi ranger on pest-free Motuora Island and restoration work at Whenua Rangatira, New Zealand's first co-governed public park created under the Orakei Act.

Barry also announced funding for weed control projects at several areas, including Motuora, Motuihe and Motutapu Islands, as well as Te Henga Track, part of the Hillary Trail in the Waitakere Ranges.

"Te Henga is popular with local, national and international visitors and sees a lot of foot traffic throughout the year," Barry said.

"The volunteers plan to reduce the spread of weeds near the track and repair parts where it has been severely eroded.

"The work should improve access for visitors and encourage walkers to stay on the track."

Barry also announced $124,000 in conservation grants for the Wellington region, along with a major initiative to double the pest-free kiwi sanctuary in the Rimutaka Forest Park.

The initiative would see the DOC work with conservation company Goodnature and two community groups to double the size of the kiwi sanctuary from 3500ha to 7000ha.

The Rimutaka Forest Park Trust Kiwi Project was started nine years ago, with 10 kiwi moved from around the country.

There were now 100 kiwi in the area, with over half having been born and raised in the park.

Community groups Rimutaka Forest Park Trust and Moa Conservation Trust will manage the trap network once installed.

About 1200 Goodnature A24 self-resetting stoat traps will be laid down and the extended safe-zone area will cross the popular Catchpool and Orongorongo valleys, which attract 30,000 visitors each year.

The A24 traps, funded by DoC, automatically reset after each kill and pump out fresh lure, reducing work for volunteers.

Goodnature director Robbie van Dam said the Rimutaka Forest Park Trust had been instrumental in bringing back North Island brown kiwi to one of the most popular tramping destinations in the lower North Island.

"We're excited to team up with them and Moa Conservation Trust to significantly expand the stoat pest-free zone which will help to significantly boost kiwi numbers."

The park - a productive forest of mixed podocarp and beech - was significant to the company as it was where it developed and tested the trapping technology.

"The wet climate and steep terrain represents the harsh New Zealand bush and we had to develop incredibly robust but lightweight technology for these conditions."

- NZ Herald

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