In 2002, just eight traps were set on the north-eastern slopes of Taranaki’s classic volcanic dome in a bid to help protect local brown kiwi from the jaws and paws of animal pests.
Working with the Department of Conservation, the number of traps on Taranaki is now 921, with more than 110 donated by Trust supporters. Trust chair, Jan Fogg, says a huge number of animal pests have been eliminated from the kiwi zone and it seems that stoats are now under control. “They peak during the summer season but this influx is relatively short-lived thanks to all the traps. But we do need to stay vigilant,” she says. The Trust pays for a contract trapper to make sure the work is done well and safely, and each trap is checked 18 times a year to keep constant pressure on the predators. The Trust also raises money for new trap boxes to help increase the kiwi’s cordon of safety.
Taranaki Kiwi Trust doesn’t limit its efforts just to killing animal pests. Operation Nest Egg™ is helping to give the mountain’s birds a head start. Eggs from Taranaki are hatched at Kiwi Encounter in Rotorua, and the chicks released back onto the mountain when they are big enough to more ably defend themselves against stoats.
The Trust is also keen to spread the word about its Community Kiwi Programme, which encourages local landowners to set predator traps on their land. And schools are also firmly in its sights. The Trust has developed an education programme based on a book called “Kiwi in Taranaki”, which links with the curriculum. Volunteers are updating its displays and offering to work with teachers, giving talks and demonstrations. “We have been able to achieve what we have because of the wonderful support we get from sponsors and the community,” Jan says.
The Taranaki Kiwi Trust distributes the educational pack to schools in the form of a CD-ROM and booklet for use by teachers as they see fit. If you wish to obtain the booklet, or the CD-ROM, or enquire about other educational resource, please contact the trust.
Trust membership today is more than 350, and includes representatives of the Taranaki Regional Council, Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society, Ornithological Society of New Zealand and Taranaki Conservation Board.
Size of area under protection
Animal pests are trapped on 6000 hectares on the north-eastern slopes of Taranaki.
The Trust’s biggest challenge is keeping the good ideas in balance with its ability to achieve them. Making applications for funding is also a demanding task.
Since it began in 2001, the Trust has developed a strong identity in Taranaki and has won huge community support for its projects:
- Community sponsored trap lines in Egmont National Park
- Operation Nest Egg
- Its Community Kiwi Programme to help with predator trapping on private land
- Aversion training for hunters’ dogs
- An education programme for schools
- Following an initial grant from the Department of Conservation, the Trust has been able to access funding from a variety of sources, including:
- Kiwis for kiwi
- Lotteries Commission
- Taranaki Electricity Trust
- Generous donations from the public and businesses
- TSB Community Trust
- The New Plymouth District Council
- The Biodiversity Fund
As well, the Trust encourages supporters to help pay for parts of its work, including $55 a year to help pay for traps to be checked or $65 to donate a predator trap box. It also sells tee-shirts with its logo, at $45 a pop. If you’re visiting New Plymouth, these are available at Kiwi Outdoors on Ariki Street.
The one most important thing
The first thing a new group should do is look at what other groups are doing – the models they have used to set up and manage the group’s activities, as well as what funding is needed and where they access it from.
Who to contact
If you would like to volunteer to help the Taranaki Kiwi Trust, make a donation, or just want some more information, contact:
Phone: 06 764-7573
Postal address: TARANAKI KIWI TRUST, P O Box 867, New Plymouth 4340