If you have been to Rotokare Scenic Reserve at dawn or dusk, you would have heard the symphony of bird song.

This 230-hectare predator-free environment is protected by an 8.2 kilometre pest-proof fence and native flora, lizards and invertebrates are thriving. Native birds like hihi, kiwi, kārearea, kererū, toutouwai, tieke and pāteke abound.

Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust Conservation Manager Fiona Gordon. PHOTO: Vicki Zieltjes

Earlier this year a native bird species was returned when 60 titipounamu were translocated from the Mounga to Rotokare as part of the restoration of the Rotokare reserve.

Monitoring in the A24 block located near Egmont Road on the way to the North Egmont Visitor Centre showed several hundred of these small birds. The thriving titipounamu population made a good case for moving them.

A milestone for Taranaki Mounga as it was the first transfer of birds from the park, it was also an exciting time for Rotokare which now hosts members of New Zealand’s four remaining endemic song-bird families. The translocation also provided another regional habitat for titipounamu to thrive.

It was an inspiring example of reciprocity by Taranaki Mounga and a way to thank the Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust and volunteers who have supported and provided expertise to Taranaki Mounga and DOC teams over a number of years.

Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust Conservation Manager Fiona Gordon, one of many dedicated staff at the Trust, has worked there for the last three years. Her conservation and species work has taken her from Stewart Island / Rakiura to Whangarei.

As well as ensuring the continued success of Rotokare, she has enjoyed collaborating with conservation projects like Taranaki Mounga.

Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust staff and volunteers have supported the Project through a number of toutouwai activities such as pre-feeding and translocating 95 birds from Pureora Forest to the Mounga. Rotokare assisted the Project with its toutouwai population establishment, monitoring and trained volunteers.

“It’s been great to see us all enhancing the biodiversity gains for the region,” says Fiona. “At Rotokare we are also helping our national populations by having hihi, pāteke and other birdlife at the reserve.”

DOC Senior Biodiversity Ranger Emily King appreciates being able to work alongside Fiona and the Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust.

“It is always a pleasure to work alongside conservation colleagues who have a shared vision and are actively creating positive momentum towards protecting native biodiversity, both regionally and nationally,” says Emily.

“This titipounamu translocation is worth celebrating. It was wonderful for the population on the Mounga to be at a high enough level to be used as a source, something we all aspire to.”

So what’s next for Rotokare? Work is under way to introduce more pāteke and potentially more birds like kākā and kākāriki from the parrot family. Increasing the lizard and invertebrate populations is also likely.