Minister opens new ecosanctuary at Cape Farewell

A new ecosanctuary with a predator proof fence on Golden Bay’s Cape Farewell, which will restore a safe home for sea birds, rare native plants, giant snails, and geckos, was officially opened today by the Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage.

“There has been a fantastic community effort supported by the Department of Conservation to create the Wharariki Ecosanctuary and establish a safe haven for sea birds such as pakahā/fluttering shearwaters and wildlife such as geckos,” said Eugenie Sage.

“Thanks to the new fence and planned predator control work, native plants and wildlife will be able to thrive without being browsed or eaten.

“The new predator proof fence will protect three hectares of a unique coastal headland. It should help seabirds to re-establish breeding colonies on the mainland.”

The sanctuary has been established in a partnership between local business HealthPost, Manawhenua ki Mōhua (Ngāti Tama, Ngāti Rārua and Te Ātiawa) and the Department of Conservation. The Minister of Conservation also announced a funding grant to support the habitat restoration efforts. 

The project will be assisted by a $59,200 grant from DOC’s Community Conservation Fund to support the restoration of Wharariki stream and wetland and expand existing trap lines.

“Large seabird colonies on coastal cliffs were once common around mainland New Zealand before pests such as rats and stoats were introduced and land clearance destroyed the habitat they depended. These combined pressures decimated seabird numbers. Significant populations of burrowing seabirds are now largely relegated to offshore islands,” said Eugenie Sage.

“It’s projects like this that are crucial to providing safe havens for these threatened plants and wildlife on mainland New Zealand.”

“The Wharariki Ecosanctuary project highlights what can be achieved when businesses, iwi and communities come together supported by Government to give nature a helping hand. Such projects all help in achieving New Zealand’s Predator Free 2050 goal,” she said.

Work began on the fence in September 2019 and has just been completed. This year it’s aimed to remove all predators like rats, mice, possums and stoats, before it’s hoped the first birds are translocated from offshore islands to the site later in 2020 or early 2021.