The Motutapu project started in 1993 in consultation with Ngai Tai ki Tamaki Trust and other interested groups. Together with Rangitoto, Motutapu represented an unrivalled opportunity for ecological restoration close to a metropolitan centre which could contribute significantly to threatened species’ survival in New Zealand.

The island was declared mammalian pest-free in 2011, although possums and wallabies were removed during the nineties. Volunteers have now planted over 100 hectares in 450,000 native trees, a forest that is almost canopy level. Rare and endangered species, as well as unthreatened endemic species, are thriving in the pest-free habitat. The island is now a safe home for a small breeding population of translocated Kiwi and Takahe – some of New Zealand’s rarest, flightless birds.

The Motutapu Restoration Trust’s work provides opportunities for people of all ages to engage in and be actively involved in conservation and to better understand and appreciate heritage values through the restoration of Motutapu.

Who We Are

Chair of the Motutapu Restoration Trust – Brett Butland

Our charitable trust was established in February 1994 to enable the restoration of this treasured island.  Our Trust Deed allows for 15 trustees.

Motutapu Restoration Trust Trustees, 2017

Brett Butland, Chair

Rick Braddock, Deputy Chair

Hon Chris Fletcher, Founding Trustee, Patron

Roley Rackley, Treasurer and Chair of Finance Committee

Mary Flaws

Dr Bruce Burns, Chair of Natural Heritage Committee

Bridget Winstone, Volunteer Coordinator

John Eccleton, Chair Recreation and Visitors Committee

Alastair Bell, Chair of Engagement Committee

Iain MacKenzie

Jane Moore

Michael Fitchett

Patrick Conor


We also have Guardians who have been deeply involved in founding the Trust and getting it to where it is today:

Sir Rob Fenwick

Graeme Campbell

Alison Henry

Belinda Vernon

Russell Greenwood

Our above dedicated group of individuals are committed to restoring the cultural and natural landscapes of Motutapu. Restored habitats on the island are already enabling native wildlife, including endangered species, to thrive in our safe haven free from animal and plant pests. Alongside the ecological restoration, the island’s rich archaeological and historic landscapes are being enhanced so that the stories of centuries of human occupation can be enjoyed by all.

Our activities include planting a native forest, restoring wetlands as well as historic site preservation, restoration and interpretation, walking tracks and visitor centre. The restoration programme, through hands on involvement, offers an excellent opportunity for our visitors to experience and for our volunteers to contribute to conservation. We salute our many volunteers who generously give of their time on the island.

Through its activities, the Trust provides opportunities to New Zealanders and overseas visitors for lifelong conservation learning.

Our Vision & Aims

“Breathing new life into an ancient landform”

Our vision is to restore the natural and cultural landscapes of Motutapu. The natural landscape similar to that which existed on Motutapu before the Rangitoto eruption around 600 years ago. The cultural landscape shaped by Maori, early settlers, farming and the military.

We are in the process of :
• Restoring native ecosystems
• Replanting several hundred hectares in native forest
• Collecting and propagating seeds from ecosourced plant stock
• Protecting the growing volunteer forest from plant pests
• Re-introducing threatened species of plants, birds, reptiles and invertebrates
• Providing opportunities for volunteers to experience hands on conservation
• Encouraging links with the wider Auckland community
• Protecting and conserving the WWII gun emplacements and military sites
• Developing the restored Reid Homestead as an interpretative visitor centre
• Re-establishing Maori links with Motutapu through cultural activities
• Protecting and interpreting the archaeological sites on the island
• Facilitating life-long learning for all ages

As Motutapu is a working farm, sheep and cattle can be seen in varying numbers on the island throughout the year.

Exotic birds such as blackbird, chaffinch, mallard duck, goldfinch, greenfinch, magpie, myna, rosella, skylark, sparrow, starling, thrush, turkey, yellow hammer have all been observed on Motutapu.


Motutapu mirrors much of New Zealand’s history, from its geological origins to human settlement (Maori and European) of the Island.

The Island is a 1509ha recreation reserve managed by Department of Conservation (DOC). The MRT has a formal partnership with DOC and has been working to a comprehensive working plan for restoration and interpretation of the Island’s natural, cultural and historic values that is consistent with the Hauraki Gulf Conservation Management Strategy (CMS).

Motutapu’s natural landscape includes geology, which is Jurassic in origin. It has an ecological history, which has evolved since the Rangitoto eruption some 600 years ago. Its natural landscape reflects the impact of both Maori and early European occupation. It is the home of more than 300 significant Maori archaeological sites and is rich in Maori culture and heritage, as well as early European farming settlement overlapping with more recent military occupational history. In addition, a working pastoral farm, practicing sustainable farming techniques, operates alongside DOC and MRT.

Motutapu’s physical connection with the iconic Rangitoto Island enhances its significance in the Hauraki Gulf. While Motutapu represents one of the oldest landforms in New Zealand, Rangitoto represents the youngest. Together they will create a wildlife sanctuary landmass about twenty times the size of Tiri Tiri Matangi, twice the size of Kapiti Island and significantly larger than Hauturu (Little Barrier Island), New Zealand’s other major island wildlife sanctuaries. This sanctuary, which will be restocked with indigenous birds and wildlife, will have major benefits for biodiversity, tourism, education and Aucklanders quality of life.

The community restoration effort on Motutapu is without parallel in New Zealand. Located on Auckland’s doorstep, it provides sponsors and all New Zealanders an opportunity to leave a true legacy by creating the largest island sanctuary of its type in New Zealand.

You can contact the Motutapu Restoration Trust at