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Motutapu Celebrates Five Pest-free Years

August 2016

At the end of August 2011, Motutapu and it’s ‘twin’ island, Rangitoto, were officially declared pest-free.

“The 2011 announcement followed one of the biggest pest eradication operations ever undertaken in New Zealand by the Department of Conservation,” says Motutapu Restoration Trust chair, Brett Butland.  “Eight mammalian pest species were removed from the two islands, an area that is close to 4000 hectares.  It was, and it remains, a significant achievement.”

The pest-free status has allowed the development of Motutapu as a sanctuary for endangered species.  The first to be released were takahe and tieke (saddleback). Takahe are now found across the island and represents 10% of the worlds’ takahe population, and the tieke took up residence in the Home Bay forest (planted entirely by volunteers since 1994) and Central Gully (a large area of remnant bush which survived the annual burn off by farmers in the past).

“Since 2011, we’ve been able to capitalise on the ongoing work done by volunteers on Motutapu since 1994 to create new habitats for endangered species.  To date 500,000 native trees have been planted on the island. This emerging forest is now home to growing populations of bellbirds, kakariki, kereru, ruru and fantail.  Some of the shyer birds such as spotless crake and buff banded rail are seen more regularly.

Since 2012 shore plover, whiteheads, Coromandel brown kiwi and pāteke have been added to the bird species on the island.  The native lizard population has expanded and eels are seen in the streams. Koura and redfin bullies have also been released.

“What has been accomplished is a tribute to the original vision of Motutapu Restoration Trust volunteers, the Department of Conservation, Ngai Tai, Motutapu Farm and the contributing project groups which raised, captured and offered their birds to be relocated to our predator free island.

“Aucklanders can now enjoy access to some of our most precious species, just a short ferry ride from downtown Auckland. So much has been achieved, but there is still much to be done.”

Pest eradication 2009

Pest eradication 2009

Tieke release 2011

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