Karori Wildlife Sanctuary Trust 10 year anniversary

  • Helen Clark
Prime Minister

Ten years ago, the Prime Minister of the day, Rt Hon Jim Bolger, launched the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary Trust. It is now a pleasure for me to be here to celebrate the Trust’s tenth anniversary.

Over the past decade this Trust has established the world’s first mainland island sanctuary in an urban environment.

This Sanctuary has achieved a great deal in its first ten years, including:

  • The design and construction of an 8.6 kilometre predator-proof fence.
  • The world’s first successful multi-species eradication (up to thirteen predators) in a single operation.
  • The transfer of twelve species of birds to the sanctuary: little spotted kiwi, hihi (stitchbird), North Island saddleback, kaka, North Island tomtit, bellbird, North Island robin, North Island weka, whitehead, brown teal, scaup, and kereru.
  • The development of techniques to establish breeding populations of bellbirds and North Island tomtits in the Sanctuary, following their transfer for the first time ever.
  • A visit to the Sanctuary features in the Rough Guide to New Zealand as one of the top 35 experiences not to miss in our country.

The loss of our native species of animal and plant life is of ongoing concern. The arrival of people and introduced species has led to the elimination of over thirty per cent of New Zealand’s endemic land and freshwater bird species, and nearly twenty per cent of our endemic seabird species; and has greatly diminished our inheritance of native plants and wildlife. About a thousand of our indigenous species are currently threatened with extinction.

The work of this sanctuary contributes to halting the decline in New Zealand's indigenous biodiversity, and to restoring it. What makes this Sanctuary special is that it demonstrates that it is possible to restore biodiversity in the middle of one of our largest cities.

The success of the Sanctuary has inspired other groups, including the Department of Conservation, local authorities, and community groups around New Zealand to adopt and adapt the knowledge and technology being developed here.

Elsewhere in New Zealand others have either used, or are considering using, similar fence design. Ten other sanctuaries have been built since and at least seven sanctuaries are being developed.

So now we celebrate the Trust’s tenth anniversary with the unveiling of a sculpture. It is a work by Wellington artist Jonathan Campbell. It is based on the northern rata leaf, an endangered flora species which is being regenerated within the Sanctuary.

I am also pleased to announce today that the government has approved a grant of $80,523, through the Tourism Facilities Grants Programme, for the development of a bush and stream concept trail at the Sanctuary. The project will include a network of tracks, picnic areas, bird feeding stations, and interpretation of the stream and rare native plants. The development of this trail will further enhance the urban wildlife experience already provided at the Sanctuary.

It now gives me great pleasure to congratulate the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary Trust for all that has been achieved in the last ten years, and to unveil this wonderful sculpture.