Eco-sanctuary to protect valued species
A new 2700ha “inland island” sanctuary for native plants and animals on the North Island Central Plateau is a step closer with support from the Government’s Mahi mō te Taiao/Jobs for Nature programme, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says.
“The Pōkākā Eco-sanctuary is an ambitious project designed by Uenuku iwi as a way of generating sustained employment and revenue, while at the same time restoring a large tract of land which includes the Erua Wetlands on the western side of the Tongariro National Park.
“Jobs for Nature is providing $1.92m over three years to help progress Uenuku’s vision for revitalisation of their kaitiakitanga.
“It will see 14 people trained up to get stuck into the first phase of the eco-sanctuary development – removing as many introduced pest animals and plants as possible – with two of the first-year trainee cadets progressing to become junior pest management/monitoring workers.
“Target species include possums, rats, mustelids (stoats, ferrets and weasels), feral cats, rabbits, goats and wasps, along with weeds such as barberry, broom, gorse, lupins, wilding pines and willow.
“A baseline environmental and cultural monitoring programme will run alongside the pest control work so success can be assessed and measured.
“Over time, the ongoing pest control of this site will establish the Pōkākā Eco-sanctuary as a secure habitat for taonga species, including a number of endangered orchids, North Island brown kiwi, pekepeka (bat) and yellow-crowned kākāriki, to live and breed.
“Recovery of these species within the Pōkākā Eco-sanctuary will lay the foundations for ongoing ecosystem and species recovery across the wider central North Island region. Flocks of kererū and kākā, and breeding colonies of seabirds in particular, are all valued taonga in the historic forests and alpine habitats of Wainuiārua.
Their re- establishment would help habitat restoration and species reintroduction, which is integral to the return of lost species including kākāpō and tītī.
“Although beyond the scope of this current funding, Uenuku ultimately see the eco-sanctuary as a perfect addition to the tourism offerings in the Central Plateau – a place to go when the ski fields are closed – which provides local jobs, sustainable revenue and most importantly a reconnection to the whenua for the wider iwi.
“This is an exciting project for the local community and I will be watching its progress with considerable interest,” Kiri Allan said.