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The Race That's Saving Auckland's Island Sanctuary, Motutapu

Partners Life DUAL - Motutapu - Rangitoto Traverse sporting event


Staged on one of the most prized landscapes in New Zealand - the Hauraki Gulf islands of Motutapu and Rangitoto - the Partners Life DUAL is an incredible event offering trail run and walk, off-road triathlon and mountain bike options. Produced in partnership with Total Sport and Motutapu Restoration Trust, participation in this event contributes directly to the preservation and reforestation of Motutapu, us!

The Partners Life DUAL is a once a year opportunity. At no other time throughout the year are people able to participate in an event of this nature, and at no other time are mountain bikes allowed on the islands.

Entry numbers for the 2017 Partners Life DUAL Motutapu-Rangitoto Traverse are limited due to the nature of these two protected islands, so make sure you get your entry in early!

Event options include:

  • 6km Run/Walk - BRAND NEW COURSE
  • 10km Run / Walk - BRAND NEW COURSE
  • 21km Half Marathon
  • 42.2km Marathon
  • 26km Mountain Bike
  • 42km Mountain Bike
  • Off-Road Triathlon (1km Ocean Swim | 26km MTB | 10km Run)



 Rangitoto makes a great back drop when running the half marathon in the DUAL

2016 Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Seminar: Do The Right Thing featuring MRT Deputy Chair Rick Braddock

July 2016

The Hauraki Gulf Forum's seventh annual seminar is back on 13 September 2016. Navigate our Gulf with inspiring thinkers, doers, innovators and kaitiaki. 

Do the right thing

The 2016 Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Seminar asks what it takes to Do The Right Thing. Can our primary industries reinvent themselves and their relationship with ecosystems? What is people-power unleashing around our islands, reefs and harbours? How can 600 years of indigenous knowledge and culture inform the way? Are fly fishing for kahawai and siling with whales signs of the times? And where might the government fit in all of this?


  • Te Ahukaramu Charles Royal on belonging
  • Motutapu Island farmer Rick Braddock's big vision
  • Raewyn Peart's story of ecological change
  • MfE CEO Vicky Robertson on facing issues
  • Barry Torkington's fisheries challenge
  • Andrew Schollum on cleaning harbours
  • Chris Gillies on restoring Australia's reefs
  • Karl Warr reinvents his fishing operation
  • TA Sayers seeks redemption from Rena
  • Matt von Sturmer celebrates the kahawai
  • Jochen Zaeschmar sails with whales

Booking information


Bookings recommended. Door sales subject to availability. Book at ticket desks, +64 9 306 7048 or secure your spot online. Early booking is recommended as this seminar sells out. Catered lunch provided.

BOOK NOW      

Kiwi birds sail waka to new home on Motutapu

April 18th 2016

Three of the North Islands rarest kiwi sailed by waka houroua on Saturday 16th April 2016 to their new home on the island of  Motutapu in the Hauraki Gulf as part of collaborative efforts to save the Coromandel brown kiwi.

A partnership between Motutapu Restoration Trust (MRT), Rotoroa Island Trust (RIT), Department of Conservation, Auckland Zoo, Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki, Ngāti Paoa, Ngāti Tamaterā and the Coromandel Kiwi Collective (a united forum of community-led projects on the Coromandel Peninsula) is working to establish a sustainable population of the Coromandel brown kiwi on the predator free Motutapu.

The journey for these three ‘teenagersbegan in Te Mata, part of the Thames Coast Kiwi Care (TCKC) project, one of the community-led projects on the Coromandel which focuses on preserving and growing the Coromandel brown kiwi, of which it is estimated only 1700 are remaining.   The eggs were uplifted and taken to Auckland Zoo where they were incubated and hatched. The chicks were then taken to Rotoroa Island, and the three young birds, now aged between three and five months,have been released on Motutapu Island.


The waka hourua in Home Bay                                

Motutapu Restoration Trust Chair, Brett Butland said welcoming the birds on the final leg of their journey was seen as a celebration by the Trust and the thousands of volunteers that have given their time and passion to restoring and maintaining the islands’ forests.

This is a fitting celebration of the Trusts 21st birthday and all the incredible work done by our supporters and volunteers to ensure we have kiwi and other native flora and fauna as a part of our future. A lot of what we do is not glamorous but just sheer hard work which has made Motutapu a shining example of community conservation efforts.

“Weve given a new slant to the saying it takes a village to raise a child. While we will be looking after them while theyre here, it has taken the dedication of many people to get them this far, and we thank them sincerely.

James Brown, Chairman, Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki said sailing the kiwi on Haunui, a waka hourua was a fitting mode of transport for the three kiwi.

Transporting our taonga by waka hourua to their new home signified traditional protocols and rituals. We have been entrusted as guardians of these birds by our Ngāti Paoa brothers in the Coromandel and we wanted to deliver them safely in the way our ancestors would have. The four hour journey was a time for us to honour these beautiful and special birds as part of our duty of care.


A male kiwi before release into the wild

Two females and one male were released to the island. Their arrival brings the number of kiwi on the island to 25, closer to the target of 40 birds needed for the founder population.

Michelle Impey, chief executive of Kiwis for kiwi trust, said this most recent kiwi release highlights the efforts required by many but also underlines the reality that we can save kiwi.

The Coromandel brown kiwi are one of four regionally distinct kiwi on the North Island and with the huge efforts from community-led kiwi conservations projects such as Thames Coast Kiwi Care we are turning around the 2% decline of our kiwi population every year. In fact, Coromandel brown kiwi are the only regional population on the North Island growing by the targeted 2% per annum.

Motutapu Restoration Trust saddened at loss of takahē

Friday August 21, 2015

Volunteers who belong to the Motutapu Restoration Trust (MRT) are devastated by the deaths of four takahē on the island.

“Over the last 20 years thousands of Aucklanders have put a lot of time to help us create habitats for takahē and the other threatened native birds released on the island since it was declared pest-free in 2011,” says MRT deputy chair Rick Braddock, who manages the farm on Motutapu. “I am sure they, DOC staff who work with the takahē, iwi, and our other partners on the island will share our deep distress at this loss.”

“We have become friends with these birds. We know them because we see them on the island every day. They’ve become part of our lives and we’re deeply saddened by their loss.”

Mr Braddock says the pūkeko cull was necesssary because they pose a real threat to the eggs and chicks of takahē, pateke, shore plover and the other native birds released on Motutapu.”  


A takahe family on Motutapu

“They’re also a real problem with our planting programe to expand the native forest on Motutapu. The pūkeko rip the native tree seedlings from the ground virtually the day after our volunteers have planted them.”

“What’s happened is a tragic mistake. But we’re angry these birds have been shot after the shooters were instructed to shoot pūkeko on the wing, having been told that takahē can’t fly.”

“It’s up to the DOC investigation to find out how that happened and what action is taken.”  

“We see these deaths as a setback. But takahē have had many setbacks since they were rediscovered in Fiordland in 1948. We’ll get over this and move forward.”

“There are 300 takahē in the world and it has been a very sucessful breeding season with an additional 40 takahē chicks added to the population.”

“The recovery programme is in good shape and we will all continue our work to secure the survivalof these special birds for future generations.”

“The strength of MRT is that 21 years of work and knowledge has created a robust sanctuary programme for endangered species that will endure this setback.”

Contact: Liz Brooks: 027 290 1610

Junior takahe takes the cake

 July 10th 2015

The Motutapu Restoration Trust is celebrating 21 years of volunteer conservation work on Motutapu Island. More than two decades since the start of an ambitious journey of ecological and cultural restoration on Motutapu, the island is a very different place from the bare island it was back then. This is all entirely thanks to the far-reaching vision of the Trust’s founding trustees and the dedication of thousands of volunteers since.

About 100 hectares of farmland have been transformed into a rapidly maturing native forest, with the planting of around 440,000 plants raised from seed by volunteers in the Trust’s native plant nursery. In addition, volunteers have removed many hundreds of thousands of invasive weeds, and many thousands of dollars have been raised for contractors to help in the mammoth weed effort.


The takahe chick which hatched on Motutapu at the end of 2015

Literally thousands of volunteers from the community have worked on the island enabling the long-term vision to become a reality.

“Volunteers are the lifeblood of the Motutapu Restoration Project,” said Brett Butland, Chair of the Motutapu Restoration Trust. “Today we recognise the commitment of all our volunteers over the last 21 years. Together they have created the sanctuary that is now home for many of New Zealand’s threatened species.”

The creation of a native forest capable of sustaining a variety of New Zealand’s threatened and endangered species provided the incentive for the Department of Conservation to completely eradicate animal pest species from both Rangitoto and Motutapu. The successful eradication has enabled translocations of some of New Zealand’s most threatened and endangered bird species (including takahe, kiwi, shore plover and brown teal) – as well as encouraging other bird species to return under their own wing power to the islands.

“The significance of the volunteers’ work is most powerfully reflected by the successful establishment of the first juvenile takahe on Motutapu,” said Mr Butland. The as-yet unnamed bird was the star of the 21st anniversary celebration.

Mr Butland also acknowledged the achievements of the Trust over the past 21 years. In the first decade: a restoration plan was endorsed, a nursery built, volunteer accommodation secured, a pioneer planting programme started, stands of pohutukawa established around the coast, military style fencing around gun emplacements built, interpretation panels installed on the military sites, military sites made safe, and various forest remnants adopted and fenced off from stock by different Rotary Clubs.

In the second decade, major achievements included: the reopening of the Home Bay Wharf to ferries, the launch of a website, the restoration of the Reid Homestead, the completion of the Rotary Centennial Track including two bridges, a major expansion of the nursery, refurbishment of the old Red Barn, release of the Guns of Motutapu DVD, the establishment of the multi-sport event, the DUAL, as an annual fundraising event, eight annual bird surveys completed, and fresh-water fish introduced.

“Motutapu reflects community conservation at its best. Let us celebrate the past 21 years and look forward to another rewarding decade of ecological and cultural restoration,” said Mr Butland.

Rare Native Duck Released On Motutapu

28 May 2015

Twenty pateke (Anas chlorotis), have been released into the Central Gully pond on Motutapu. The Motutapu Restoration Trust has been waiting for a number of years for this nationally endangered bird to be introduced to the island so it is very exciting that they have finally arrived.

The birds were flown in travel boxes courtesy of Air New Zealand from the Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust's centre at Peacock Springs in Christchurch where they were screened and treated for diseases. They came to Motutapu on a Department of Conservation (DOC) boat before being transported by road to the release site where a small group of eager volunteers and Trustees awaited them.

Each of these delightful, small, rare dabbling ducks was released, one by one by a different volunteer beside the pond. All twenty birds appeared to be very happy with their new home as they quickly began to explore each nook and cranny in the immediate vicinity. Thankfully, the weather was perfect and none of the ducks seemed to have suffered from their long journey.


Pateke checking out their new home on the Central Gully pond


Volunteer, Margie Luby releasing a pateke into the pond

The pateke will feed on duck pellets for several months from the specially designed hoppers placed strategically around the pond as they transition to a more natural diet of invertebrates. It is hoped that feeding from the hoppers will help them develop some site fidelity. Each duck has a transmitter and will be monitored for the first few months by volunteers led by Hazel Speed (DOC). Over the past few weeks the Trust’s volunteers have been busy controlling weeds, planting native trees and installing feeding hoppers around the pond ready for the arrival of the ducks.

Pateke have been seen on Motutapu in the past but have been transient. It is hoped that a permanent population can be established on Motutapu.

Pateke or brown teal duck is another bird species that was once widespread throughout New Zealand before the introduction of predators and loss of habitat (forest clearance and wetland draining). By 2000 the pateke population had shrunk to about 700 birds found either on Great Barrier Island or at Mimiwhangata in Northland. Today the wild pateke population has grown to an estimated 2500 birds

Globally Unprecedented Feat

March 30th 2015

The highlight of this year’s DUAL has to be the completion of the Partners Life High Five-0 Challenge, an event that is globally unprecedented; nothing like it has ever been attempted anywhere in the world before. Mal Law did the impossible. He ran 50 mountain marathons over 50 peaks in 50 consecutive days! Rangitoto was his final mountain peak before he ran the final distance to be greeted by a guard of honour formed along the finish chute at the DUAL in Home Bay on Motutapu. It was a very moving finale to an audacious endurance feat. Mal, through the High Five-O Challenge has been instrumental in raising over $447,000 for the Mental Health Foundation.


An emotional but jubilant Mal Law and his wife Sally at the end of the marathon


Runners in the DUAL 10km event wind their way up the hill

The 2015 PartnersLife DUAL itself, was as popular as ever with a record number of 2214 competitors in this year’s event. Stiff competition from other sporting events in the region did not reduce support for the DUAL held on Saturday in March, 28th 2015.

Staged on the iconic islands of Motutapu and Rangitoto in the Hauraki Gulf, the DUAL is a once a year outdoor sports opportunity. At no other time are people able to participate in an event of this nature, and at no other time are mountain bikes allowed to be taken over to the islands and ridden.

Once again event management company, total sport, staged a fantastic event, the Partners Life DUAL which offered trail walk and run, off-road triathlon and mountain bike options. There was something for everyone, young and old and of all levels of fitness.

The DUAL, the major fundraiser for the Motutapu Restoration Trust, makes a very valuable financial contributionto the conservation effort on Motutapu. A huge thank you goes to all those volunteers, marshals and others who made it the great success it was. A huge thank you also goes to total sport for once again staging a fantastic event. And thank you to Mal for choosing the DUAL to run his final marathon for the High Five-O Challenge.

March 30th 2015.

Motutapu and GIS

Last year MRT embarked on a journey into GIS for weed control purposes with the help of GIC - GIS in Conservation.

A volunteer, Lucas, set up the GIS database using data from our original two Garmin devices, previously stored in Google Earth. He also set up an iPhone app so that, when out in the bush, new data could be entered regarding the location and type of weeds found.
The map below shows mostly moth plant sites but with a few other species in the mix. MRT is in the process of identifying the most useful meta data to keep, and how to most effectively use the stored data to help control the infestations.

Investigations are ongoing into what other data to store - for example planting areas - and how to display it. Check out the live version of the Motutapu GIS Map.


 Weed Control in our Home Bay Forest

Bon and Jovi on Motutapu

March 2015


Jovi taking his time to leave the box after his release.

Two new takahe, Bon (female) and Jovi (male) have made the long journey from Mana Island near Wellington to Motutapu in the Hauraki Gulf to bolster the population of takahe on the island. Bon and Jovi flew courtesy of Air New Zealand to Auckland and were then driven to Devonport where they boarded the DOC boat, the “Taikehu” for the final leg of their journey to Motutapu on Thursday 19th March.

After a warm welcome from James Brown, Ngai Tai, these two rare birds were released by Bronwyn Murray and Will Cameron (Mitre 10) under the watchful eye of Hazel Speed (DOC), into the native forest planted by thousands of volunteers in Home Bay. Once the door of the box was open wide enough Bon shot out at great speed and made for the long grass while Jovi took his time working out where he was heading and then made for the long grass too.  We look forward to getting to know Bon and Jovi as they settle into the takahe community on Motutapu and hope that they enjoy their new home.

These two birds will add diversity to the gene pool on the island and bring the total number of the flock to 20.5. The takahe chick born on Motutapu at the end of last year isn't officially counted till it is a year old!

Thank you to Mana Island for nurturing and gifting these birds and for Mitre 10 Takahē Rescue for partnering with DOC and the Takahe Recovery Programme. Thanks too to Air New Zealand for safely flying Bon and Jovi up to Auckland.


Looking South To Save Our Tropical Paradise

David Moverley reports on a Polynesian (SPREP) Study tour field trip to Motutapu

Postcard scenery of swaying palms entices visitors to tropical islands in the Pacific. But if you dig deep and south enough, you will eventually discover Motutapu and Rangitoto islands - two contrasting geological islands that have been the focus of conservation efforts over the last few decades in New Zealand.

The Polynesian islands of Niue, Tonga, Samoa and American Samoa are in the process of claiming back their native forests and biological diversity after years of being invaded by introduced weeds and animal pests. Ten participants from these islands attended a study tour in the wider-Auckland region to learn how restoration and conservation efforts are being implemented. The week-long tour from March 20-27 allowed the participants to visit three islands in the Hauraki Gulf (Rangitoto, Motutapu and Tiritiri-Matangi) and mainland reserves (including Tawharanui Regional Park). They learned of the many techniques being used including pest-proof fences, various traps and tracking devices, the importance of a well-managed nursery and eco-sourcing, translocation, the safe use of agrichemicals, volunteer and community engagement and the forest restoration framework.


The participants are extremely grateful to the experts, the staff of the Department of Conservation, the Auckland Council and the Motutapu Restoration Trust, as well as the volunteers that took the time to answer many of the participants’ questions. Standing on the ridge above the 100 hectare planted forest in Home Bay provided a view of what could be achieved.

They feel motivated to apply the knowledge learned from the tour to their restoration projects in their home countries. The study tour was part of a regional project funded by the Global Environment Facility through the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).