Tech-savvy helping revitalise Kaitake

Tuesday, March 7th, 2023


Ka whakamahi ana a Mereana i te pūngao hei whakaora i tōu tātou koroheke mounga. Ahakoa he uaua, ahakoa te kino o te kano-ā-rangi, ka whakakikī tonu tōna kete mātauranga.

Mereana Hanrahan never realised how much technology was involved in restoration efforts on Taranaki Mounga and the Kaitake Ranges.

“It’s been a big learning curve – it was really surprising how much tech was here,” she says, nearly two years into her role as an apprentice ranger with Taranaki Mounga Project.

The lingo – ‘sat’ box, nodes and Lean Detection System – rolls off her tongue as she explains some of the cutting edge tools and processes used by the team.

The Lean Detection System has been important for dramatically lowering possum numbers in the Kaitake Ranges and supporting native species to come back. Mereana explains that seeing more flowering kiekie is one example pointing to improved biodiversity – possums love to eat the sweet flowers so they used to be rarely seen.

The trapping system uses satellite technology, connecting leg-traps digitally via ‘nodes’. Rangers are alerted via their phones when a trap is set off.  The Zip Outpost and Zip PosStop traps, developed and trialled by Zip, are simple, humane and save time, as traps don’t need to be unnecessarily checked.

“Just call us tech geniuses,” she jokes, as she explains some of the problem-solving required when things don’t work quite as they should.

Occasionally the signal can get blocked between traps, say from wind or fallen trees. That means walking up a trap line to figure out the problem and using a “tech in the bush” approach – trial and error working with the equipment and technology in the landscape.

There is also a network of cameras fixed to trees, providing data of how traps and lures are working and what predators are in the area -leading to identify increased numbers of feral cats.

Mereana says it’s physically demanding mahi, however she loves connecting with the whenua and the diversity of being a ranger, which includes helping DOC monitor native species like whio.

Flowering kiekie -a sign of improving biodiversity (credit: Shaun Baylis) and images above: Mereana Hanrahan with a legtrap and a satellite box on the Kaitake Ranges.

No pets please – we have kiwi

Sunday, December 11th, 2022

Visitors to Mount Taranaki are being urged to obey the rules and leave their family pets at home, after Department of Conservation (DoC) staff observed jacket-wearing domestic cats being taken into Egmont National Park.

DoC Senior Ranger Dave Rogers says one of DoC’s staff did a double-take when she encountered pet cats wearing jackets and being carried in backpacks by their human owners on Mount Taranaki.

Cats and all other domestic animals are not allowed in the National Park as they pose a threat to endangered birds such as kiwi and whio, and other native species including geckos and insects.

The cats were in the carpark at North Egmont and were being put into the backpacks by their owners when approached by the ranger. The owners, visitors from Auckland, said they weren’t aware of the rules. The cat owners potentially face an infringement fine.

Read the full Stratford Press article here

Working collectively to tackle pest control

Wednesday, November 30th, 2022

A unique tourist venture has joined forces with a Taranaki-based environment group to tackle pest control in one of the region’s more isolated spots.

Forgotten World Adventures, which runs converted golf carts along the former Stratford-Okahukura line, has collaborated with the East Taranaki Environment Collective (ETEC) to set up 69 pest animal traps along a 10km stretch of rail snaking through rugged hill country at Te Wera, which is 35 km east of Stratford.

Recently, representatives of ETEC, Forgotten World Adventures, Taranaki Kiwi Trust and Taranaki Mounga project placed traps alongside the rail line, at 150m intervals, from Mohakau Rd to the mouth of the tunnel under Pohokura Saddle.

The rail line runs along the southern boundary of pest management area ETEC operates within, which now covers more than 18,000 hectares from Okoki to Te Wera.

Read the full Taranaki Daily News article here.

Jan Hania moves onto Taranaki Mounga board

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2022

Since 2014 Taranaki Mounga Project Director Jan Hania (pictured) has been instrumental in developing and implementing our transformational 34,000-hectare landscape-scale project.  

This week Jan moves from his role as Project Director to an Independent Director on our Taranaki Mounga Board.  

Our team and board are delighted to continue to have his expertise and knowledge at this governance level.  

“Jan through his role as the NEXT Foundation Environmental Director was a key driver in bringing together successful partnerships and an innovative model which has seen the revitalisation of our tupuna mounga,” says Taranaki Mounga Chair Jamie Tuuta.  

“We are fortunate to have Jan join us on the Board as our project evolves and grows. He brings a wealth of skills, strong governance experience and provides continuity which is also vitally important.”  

Taranaki Mounga continues to strive and align with the Government’s vision for a predator free New Zealand by 2050. 

Our Co-Project Manager Sean Zieltjes will be Pouārahi Tupua / Acting Project Director and Sera Gibson will be in the sole acting role as Pou Whakahaere / Project Manager.  

The Taranaki Mounga Board will confirm its new structure over the coming months and will advertise accordingly.  


Underrated wonders of New Zealand

Thursday, June 30th, 2022
Our Co-Project Manager Sera Gibson made a cameo appearance on TVNZ’s Seven Sharp! This part of their Seven underrated wonders of New Zealand segment.
Comedian and staunch South Taranaki man Ben Hurley filmed on our tupuna maunga as part of our ongoing visitor attraction activity.
We were proud to feature alongside Te Poihi Campbell (Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa, Pouwhakakori / Project Manager), and Wayne Boness (Department of Conservation, Project Stream Lead Infrastructure).

New kiwi set to join successful Kaitake colony in Taranaki

Sunday, April 17th, 2022

Two kiwi named Awhina and Craig were released at Pukeiti in the Kaitake Range last week. Photo – Andy Jackson

Eight kiwi have been set free into bush in the Kaitake Range in Taranaki, joining 10 released for the first time last year and which are now thriving and breeding.

The new arrivals, released on Thursday, will provide more genetic diversity for a new colony that is developing, Kaitake Ranges Conservation Trust chair Peter Morgan said.

Two more kiwi will join them this season, an exciting development for an area where no evidence of wild kiwi living had been found “for a very long time”, he said.

Intensive predator control by the trust has made it possible for the birds to be reintroduced, and more kiwi will be progressively released over the next few years.

Read the full Taranaki Daily News article here.

Kiwi release ‘season’ begins in Taranaki

Tuesday, March 29th, 2022

Sam Hopkirk, from Taranaki Kiwi Trust, and students Stevie-Lee Pauga 10, Naveah Makatea Cooper 10, and Turi Broughton-Rewiti 9, meet one of the birds released on Tuesday. Phoo- Vanessa Laurie

Kiwi release ‘season’ got under way with the release of five birds on Taranaki Maunga on Tuesday.

They were the first of 34 that will be moved out of the region’s kiwi nursery during April.

This is the third year that birds bred in the Taranaki Kohanga Kiwi At Rotokare, a partnership between the Taranaki Kiwi Trust and the Rotokare Reserve Trust, near Eltham, have been released.

The translocations are made possible by hundreds of volunteers working alongside staff from the two trusts and the Taranaki Mounga Project, Department of Conservation and the Kaitake Ranges Conservation Trust.

Read the full Taranaki Daily News article here.

It’s goodbye to goats in Te Papakura o Taranaki after 100 years

Friday, March 25th, 2022

Taranaki Mounga board member Hemi Sundgren, NEXT Foundation chair and chief executive Bill Kermode, and DOC partnerships director Martin Rodd at the signing of the Tomorrow Accord on Friday.

After almost a century, goats are gone from Taranaki Maunga​ and the world’s longest-running goat eradication programme has come to an end.

Their absence is already being seen in an abundance of plants previously gobbled up by the goats.

This achievement was marked on Friday with a signing of the Tomorrow Accord milestone by representatives from the Taranaki Mounga​ Project (TMP) and Department of Conservation (DOC).

Established in 2014 between the Crown and Taranaki Mounga founding partner, the NEXT Foundation, the Tomorrow Accord ensures ecological transformations are protected for future generations.

Read the full Taranaki Daily News article here.

Bringing kiwi back to the Kaitake Range

Tuesday, March 8th, 2022

Kiwi were not seen or heard on the Kaitake Range for decades. After a huge predator control effort by Kaitake Ranges Conservation Trust, Department of Conservation and Taranaki Mounga, 10 kiwi were released on to the range in April 2021. Since then, these kiwi have all now paired up, are breeding and thriving! We wanted to take you back to the day these kiwi were release.

We also wanted to thank so many groups who continue to keep our kiwi safe. In mid-2022 we are excited to be working with Taranaki Kiwi Kohanga at Rotokare to release another 24 kiwi onto Te Papakura o Taranaki.

Kiwi now paired and prosper on Kaitake Range

Wednesday, February 9th, 2022

Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust Conservation Manager Fiona Gordon. Photo – Jenny Feaver

In April last year 10 kiwi were translocated to the Kaitake Ranges. These kiwi were released with radio transmitters attached to their legs to allow Taranaki Kiwi Trust to monitor their survival and dispersal patterns.

The kiwi have not only all survived but they have thrived in their new home. All 10 kiwi paired up and attempted to nest this past breeding season. It is safe to say there will be a few new juvenile kiwi exploring the ranges this summer.
Thanks to the Kaitake Ranges Conservation Trust for keeping predator numbers low and also for helping to keep track of the kiwi.
Another 10 kiwi will be released into the Kaitake Ranges again this year from the Taranaki Kōhanga Kiwi at Rotokare our partnership with Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust to help build a healthy genetically diverse kiwi population.

Options considered for rebuilding Taranaki’s Lake Dive Hut

Friday, January 21st, 2022

The 16-bunk Lake Dive Hut, burnt down in 2020 in a suspicious fire.

The Department of Conservation, local iwi, Federated Mountain Clubs and Back Country Trust are in discussions to explore opportunities for a potential rebuild of the popular Lake Dive Hut in Egmont National Park.

The 16-bunk Lake Dive Hut, on the slopes of Taranaki Maunga, burnt down in 2020 in a suspicious fire. A man alleged to have started the fire is now before the courts.

The local Department of Conservation (DoC) team is keen to see the hut replaced and staff are looking at possible options to achieve this, senior ranger Dave Rogers says.

“We recognise it leaves a fairly big gap in the backcountry hut network on that side of the mountain. Due to its stunning location and views of Taranaki Maunga, Lake Dive hut was a popular overnight destination. But like any organisation, DoC has a limited amount of funding, so we’re exploring rebuild options with potential partners.”

Read Stratford Press article here.

Fishing for goats around Te Papakura o Taranaki

Thursday, January 20th, 2022

Taranaki Mounga is on the way to fully eradicating goats, a harmful threat to our native plants, making Te Papakura o Taranaki New Zealand’s first ungulate (hooved animals) free national park. This effort is working towards larger predator management goals including Predator-Free Taranaki and the Regional Council’s development of a biodiversity ‘halo’ surrounding the Mounga to minimise the reinvasion of pests.

Using eDNA to fish for pests

A big area of interest in the eDNA sphere is to explore the potential applications of eDNA metabarcoding as a reliable, cost-effective tool for pest mammal detection. The Taranaki Mounga Project is a key partner on an extensive pest mammal detection project led by Professor Neil Gemmell from the University of Otago and recently funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). This broader pest project is currently in its first of three years running and is investigating the use of eDNA as a tool for rapidly characterising the distributions, densities and movements of pest mammal populations at both local and landscape scales. It also looks to show how samples collected for pest surveys could be used for other purposes such as biodiversity assessments and conservation management. By sampling rivers and streams, pest management groups could increase the scale of their ecological surveys, provide more information about the species present and how their abundance and distributions change with pest management efforts.

Read the full article by Amy Gault from Wilderlab