The environment sustains us, not the other way around.
These are the wise words of the general manager for the Maungaharuru-Tangitū Trust, Shayne Walker.
He welcomed the announcement of a $1.6 million kick-start in funding from the Government as the new project builds on the success of the Cape to City and Poutiri Ao ō Tāne project.
Poutiri Ao ō Tāne initially proposed to reintroduce four ecologically-important and charismatic bird species – tītī/Cook's petrel, kōrure/mottled petrel, kākā and kākāriki (yellow-crowned parakeet) to the Maungaharuru Range.
Walker said one of each species of petrel had so far returned to the range this year and the trust was hopeful that the other two would return next year.
"One of them returned on Waitangi Day, so we named it Waitangi," Walker said proudly.
"The Maungaharuru Range was the most inland seabird colony in the world from what I understand and they've been extinct in that area for a long time.
"The work we've been doing is to relocate them and repopulate them and then after these translocations hopefully the population will return after they breed and continue to re-populate."
There have been successful reintroductions and translocations of native species into the Poutiri Ao ō Tāne project area since 2013.
Initial protection was needed to provide an environment for the birds to become established, so predator-free enclosures were built, and extensive trapping was carried out before the translocations.
"We've been working with local landowners and farmers and the predators have been eradicated from the predator fence for quite sometime.
"The fence has been successfully managed and monitored for a long time, so when those chicks return, they're safe and we're fairly confident that the predators are eradicated from that predator proof fence in the range."
"The numbers of stoats and ferrets have decreased, but we have seen an increase in cats. You also hear through conversations that once you remove one predator, another one might become more prevalent."
While Walker welcomed the Predator Free Hawke's Bay initiative, he said there was still so much more that needed to be done.
"We're really privileged and fortunate to be in one of the initial spots of the formation of Poutiri Ao ō Tāne which has extended from Cape to City on our Predator Free Hawke's Bay.
"I think it's great that the whole country is turning their focus to protecting our environment and our treasures and our taonga.
"People need to learn to control their cats and dogs and understand the damage they can do, but beyond that, let's start respecting our environment, stop throwing our rubbish everywhere, and recycle our plastics because it all links."