The goal to create New Zealand's first large-scale kiwi-safe 'ecological corridor,' linking Northland brown kiwi populations over almost 300km of the region, is fast becoming a reality.
A newly-signed partnership between the Northland Regional Council and the Kiwi Coast Trust has formally consolidated an existing strong working relationship between the two organisations.
Kiwi Coast, a community-led collaborative of landcare and pest control projects from Mangawhai to the Aupouri Peninsula, links conservation projects, iwi and hapu, land owners, farmers, forest management companies, government agencies and schools with a shared desire to boost kiwi numbers and create a ground-breaking corridor of kiwi-safe areas.
Kiwi Coast is also working to improve Northland's general biodiversity values.
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Trust co-ordinator Ngaire Tyson said the partnership, signed at Pataua North last week, built on more than 20 years of successful community-led kiwi recovery work, and would help both parties achieve their mutual biodiversity and community goals.
To date 96 entities, 73 of them community-driven landcare groups, had linked into the Kiwi Coast, those groups and projects collectively carrying out pest control over more than 130,000ha.
"Under the new partnership, Kiwi Coast will bring a cost-effective, community-driven model for connecting communities and enhancing Northland ecosystems," Ms Tyson said.
"Collectively Kiwi Coast groups are already contributing more than $500,000 worth of volunteer labour annually."
Regional council chairman Bill Shepherd said the council, which had been championing community-led pest control and kiwi recovery for many years, would provide a number of resources, both practical and financial, to support Kiwi Coast.
"We already contribute roughly $300,000 a year through various funding streams to a number of community pest control projects within the Kiwi Coast area," he said. "Under the new agreement, we'll now make an additional contribution of almost $90,000 annually to the trust itself over the next five years to help with the project's co-ordination."
Cr Shepherd said Kiwi Coast had an impressive reach across a large swathe of the region, making it one of the largest community-led restoration projects of its type in the country.
"The council is proud to be able to contribute to Kiwi Coast's ongoing successes, and everyone involved looks forward to a day, hopefully not too far away, when kiwi will be able to roam safely and freely across the Kiwi Coast."