Just 30 minutes from downtown Auckland lies Motutapu Island. Joined to Rangitoto by a short bridge, Motutapu is one of the oldest landforms in the Hauraki Gulf.
Motutapu Restoration Trust has been going for over 21 years. In that time many thousands of volunteers have helped restore almost 100 ha of forest, planted almost half a million trees, and in doing so have created a habitat suitable for kiwi.
The Coromandel Brown Kiwi is the rarest of the North Island Brown Kiwi, and was the only sub species that did not have an island ‘insurance policy’ population, so the Kiwi Recovery Group chose Motutapu to be the home of a genetically viable population of Coromandel Brown Kiwi. A five year translocation plan was approved and in 2012 the first release of these new inhabitants was released on Motutapu. There are now 19 on the island, and the plan will see up to 50 released. The most famous of these was released by German Chancellor Dr Angela Merkell and Prime Minister John Key in November 2014.
Size of area under protection:
Motutapu Island is 1509 ha in size, and since 2011 has been declared mammalian pest free. The island has a range of habitats – from bush to wetlands to grasslands. Part of it is also a working farm – using eco farming techniques. There is a DOC campground at Home Bay which is next to the restoration forest and Rotary Centennial Loop Track, built by the Trust to enable the public to walk and enjoy the bush and new bird life returning to the island.
Since becoming pest free, and establishing suitable habitat, Motutapu Restoration Trust and DOC have been able to release kiwi and some other rare and endangered species on Motutapu. These include takahe, saddlebacks, whiteheads, shore plover, NZ dotterels and pateke (brown teal). Other species are coming back unaided, such as bell birds, kakariki, kereru, and tui numbers are flourishing.
The Trust has achieved some other major milestones in 21 years:
- New nursery opened in 2014 to expand the production of eco sourced plants for planting on the island;
- Home Bay wharf restored and reopened to enable public access to Motutapu;
- Reid Homestead restored as a visitor centre for the public;
- Volunteers in their thousands come help at Motutapu every year. In 2014 the Trust recorded 3214 volunteer days on the island – weeding, planting, seed collecting and helping in the nursery;
- Rotary Centennial Loop Track was built – complete with bridge – with help from Rotary Newmarket, to take visitors through the maturing native forest planted by volunteers;
- Created the must-do cross country multisport event – The Dual – now in it’s 8th year as a fundraiser for the restoration work on the island;
- Maintains a database of volunteers and supporters and produces a bi-annual newsletter;
- Hundreds of pohutukawa planted around the coast;
- Military style fencing and interpretation provided for the gun emplacements;
- Freshwater fish and koura released;
- 8 annual bird surveys completed, with huge increases in bird numbers recorded.