• Nick Smith

Conservation Minister Nick Smith today signed an agreement with Ports of Auckland Ltd that will see Pollen Island transferred to the Department of Conservation and managed as a scientific reserve.

"Pollen Island is a conservation gem located within sight of downtown Auckland. This is a significant gain for habitat protection and I am grateful to the Ports of Auckland for the constructive approach they have taken to negotiations."

The Agreement was signed at a ceremony on Pollen Island with Geoff Vazey, Chief Executive of the Port Company. The agreement follows the decision by the Minister to vest the proposed Fergusson Wharf reclamation in the Port Company in exchange for $1.6 million, an area of land along the Tamaki Riverbank, and Pollen Island.

Pollen Island was earmarked for future port development by the Auckland Harbour Board in the 1960s. Ports of Auckland bought the area when it purchased the assets of the former Harbour Board in 1988. Ports of Auckland have already helped to protect the ecological and wildlife values of the area by leasing it to the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society at a peppercorn rental in 1995. The company has assisted some of the conservation activities on the island.

The island, an area of saltmarsh and mangroves to the west of the Harbour Bridge, is considered to have national importance as a landform and is the best remaining area of its type in the Waitemata Harbour. Together with the nearby Traherne Island, it forms an important habitat for thousands of international migratory and New Zealand endemic wading birds, as well as a variety of threatened secretive coastal birds. Among these is an important population of the regionally threatened fernbird. Pollen Island is also the home of a small moth that has been found nowhere else in the world.

Pollen Island Marine Reserve, which surrounds the island, was established in 1995. It is unique in that it is the only marine reserve to be found within city limits.

"This agreement is a win-win for Auckland. On the one hand it gets a modern, efficient and sustainable port, and on the other it gets a fantastic wilderness which, though difficult to access, provides a daily backdrop and touch of nature for commuters along the North Western Motorway. The ongoing protection of this island is thanks to the foresight of Ports of Auckland, planning agencies and Forest and Bird who have worked to promote the protection of Pollen Island's unique flora and fauna."