News Articles

Vegetation in best condition

Tuesday, September 12th, 2023

Taranaki Maunga has native vegetation in the best condition in the country, according to a renowned ecologist.

Professor Bruce Clarkson, from the University of Waikato, said Te Papakura o Taranaki had the highest quality of vegetation compared with national parks across Aotearoa, excluding fenced sanctuaries, and covering a substantial area of 33,500 hectares.

“We have this unique situation that we are the only park in the whole country that doesn’t have goats and deer.”

Goats were eliminated from Te Papakura o Taranaki last year due to an intensive and targeted goat hunting strategy over 5 years. Before that they roamed the park in significant numbers for many decades. 

“The vegetation condition has never been better. Seedlings and saplings are flourishing in places that were previously bare (due to grazing from goats), and slip faces that had been slow to heal are now recovering quickly.”

Bruce, who was raised on a farm near Midhirst and has studied the ecology of Taranaki Maunga for decades, said he’d observed the flourishing ngahere when he hiked to Kaitake summit earlier this year. However, there was still much to be done to help the upper canopy of the bush, which is being heavily impacted by possums in some areas.

Bruce was in Taranaki recently supporting Taranaki Mounga Project and the Department of Conservation on developing a data strategy for the mountain. That meant looking at the best ways to measure the health and well-being of the mountain, which was practical for staff to capture information and track over time. For example, standard methods included remeasuring  20 metre by 20 metre plots every 5-7 years.

Taranaki Maunga Signing

Tuesday, September 12th, 2023

The signing of Te Ruruku Pūtakeronga, the collective deed of redress for Taranaki Maunga, was a momentous occasion on Friday, September 1, 2023.

The agreement between the Crown and iwi of Taranaki includes a Crown apology, the recognition of Taranaki Maunga as a legal person, Māori names restored and co-governed management of the national park, Te Papakura o Taranaki.

Here’s the Collective Redress Summary:

Taranaki Maunga | New Zealand Government (

To read the news about it:

Welcoming new volunteers

Tuesday, July 25th, 2023

New volunteers checking out maps of traplines on Taranaki Maunga

Taranaki Mounga Project is onboarding a new group of volunteers to help manage traplines on the southern side of Taranaki Maunga starting in October.

They will become part of a large network of helpers including 40 volunteers working on the northern side of the mountain and 60 volunteers working on Kaitake with the Kaitake Conservation Trust.

All those interested in helping will be inducted and supported, it was explained at a meet and greet hui in Stratford recently.

Te Papa Atawhai DOC Community ranger Gabriel Field said volunteers would learn how to set, bait and check traps and stay safe in the outdoors.

“Whether you have a few hours to give or half a day or more. We want you to feel comfortable and that you are contributing the way you want to contribute.”

Gabriel said volunteers could be coordinated via a roster, which would be worked out according to confidence in the bush, preference for an area and how much time people could offer to checking traps.

Pouatawhai/Lead Ranger Tāne Houston talked about the traps used – mostly DOC 200s to target stoats and rats, and Trap NZ, the app used for locating traps on GPS and recording data.

Tāne said there was no magic solution to trapping and encouraged those getting involved to get creative making the traps attractive to the predators. Rabbit meat was used as bait and some tricks included sprinkling flour and custard powder nearby. “We try and make our traps sing, so they are like a party zone for the predators,” he said.

The Kaitake Conservation Trust has been leading community restoration efforts with about 60 volunteers managing 18 trap-lines (more than 700 traps) and monitoring kiwi. Their work has enabled 30 kiwi to be rehomed in the area.

Kaitake Conservation Trust chair Peter Morgan said the trust grew out of a group of Ōākura residents wanting to keep a local DOC track open. That evolved into trapping and working closely with Taranaki Mounga Project and DOC.

He encouraged people to get involved. “We have about 4-5 families looking after each trapline and they check it every 3-4 months. Some people come and go. Some track lines are hard and others we have the same people doing the same track line for years.”


First Apprentice Ranger Graduates

Friday, April 21st, 2023

Tipunakore Rangiwai (centre) celebrating his achievement with Ngahina Capper and Sean Zieltjes

The first apprentice ranger to graduate with Taranaki Mounga Project has blazed the trail for others to follow.

Tipunakore Rangiwai recently celebrated completing the two-year kaiwhakamōkihi/trainee ranger programme and is now part of the Te Kāhui o Taranaki Toa Taiao team working as a ranger to protect pā and other special places within the takiwā of Taranaki Iwi.

Tipunakore says it feels amazing to have completed the apprenticeship and he has enjoyed gaining experience with like-minded people in the same environment.

“It was a good apprenticeship with everything packed into it; lots of seminars, meeting people and gaining knowledge. I’d recommend it to anyone and everyone. It feels like it’s where I’m meant to be –working with the whenua.”

He joined Taranaki Mounga Project four years ago when he was 16 and helped inform the development of the apprentice programme, of which 4 others are also part of and will be graduating later this year.

Taranaki Mounga Project co-director Sean Zieltjes said Tipunakore had brought so much to the team, especially his courage and grit.

“We wouldn’t have gone after the apprentice programme the way we have without Tipunakore.  A lot of the thinking behind it has been informed by him and his ideas. It’s been mutually reciprocal for us.

“Jessi and the team at Predator Free NZ Trust have backed his ideas and supported us to create and deliver 5 apprentice roles overall.”

Tipunakore’s role was part-funded through Predator Free NZ Trust as part of a nationwide programme to train more animal pest control specialists to support the predator-free vision.

The programme involved on-the-job training as well as study through the Te Kura Matatini –  Western Institute of Technology (WITT) and training provider Feats Pae Tawhiti.

More kiwi on Kaitake join growing population

Wednesday, April 5th, 2023

More kiwi were released onto Kaitake on April 5, joining a growing population.

A ceremony at Ōākura School yesterday signalled the start of kiwi release season with students from a range of coastal schools  getting the chance to see five kiwi up close before they were released into bush on Kaitake.

About 20 kiwi will be released on Taranaki Maunga and Kaitake area over the next few months. It’s the fourth year that kiwi bred in the Taranaki Kohanga Kiwi at Rotokare, a partnership between the Taranaki Kiwi Trust and the Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust, near Eltham, will be moved to new homes within Te Papakura o Taranaki (Egmont National Park).

Taranaki Kiwi Trust Ranger Toby Shanley said most of the 20 kiwi released in the last two years had paired up and had chicks. He estimated the kiwi population on Kaitake was now at least 30-40. “We know from our monitoring they are having chicks, although we don’t have exact numbers as the next generation are not electronically tagged.”

Department of Conservation Taranaki Operations Manager Gareth Hopkins says the release is a prime example of the partnership with the community working well. “Throughout the community everyone has rallied together to control pests. It’s because of all that hard work from rangers and volunteers that we’re able to keep releasing kiwi and enjoy seeing other native species coming back.”

Taranaki Mounga Project co-director Sera Gibson said almost all possums on Kaitake were gone due to trapping efforts, thanks to staff across organisations and a large number of dedicated volunteers. “We’re continuing to keep at it to suppress predators and now focusing on stoats and rats, along with extending our trapping network right around the maunga.”

The ceremony was a good celebration for the multiple groups involved including Ngā Mahanga a Tāiri hapū, Department of Conservation, the Kaitake Ranges Conservation Trust, Te Ara Taiao, schools, Rotokare  Scenic Reserve Trust and the Taranaki Kiwi Trust.

Tāne Manu, from Te Ara Taiao – an environmental educational programme working with schools, hapū and conservation groups, said the ceremony was for all the young people there, many of whom had been involved with trapping and monitoring birds. “These taonga are for our children and generations to come,” he said.

With increasing numbers of kiwi it was crucial that dogs, which are illegal in Te Papa Kura o Taranaki, are kept away. Cameras are still capturing people walking their dogs on Kaitake.

Taranaki Maunga Redress Package Signing

Saturday, April 1st, 2023
A fantastic and hugely significant milestone was achieved on Friday with the signing at Aotearoa Marae of Te Ruruku Pūtakerongo – The Taranaki Maunga Collective Redress Deed – with ngā iwi o Taranaki and the Crown.
Te Ruruku Pūtakerongo recognises Taranaki Maunga, the national park Te Papa Kura o Taranaki and nearby peaks as ancestral mountains, which will jointly become a legal person, Te Kāhui Tupua. The deal involves cultural redress and restoring traditional ingoa Māori to many areas.
The agreement includes setting up a formal entity with iwi and crown appointees, Te Tōpuni Kōkōrangi, as the face and voice of Te Kāhui Tupua. Next, the settlement goes out to ngā iwi o Taranaki for their agreement.
We are grateful to the maunga negotiation team, which includes Taranaki Mounga Project board members Jamie Tuuta and Hemi Sundgren, for their commitment to reaching this milestone for those campaigners who have since passed, and for all of us.
Read more about the settlement in the Taranaki Daily News story here.

Announcing Ops Manager Ngahina Capper

Thursday, March 16th, 2023

We are delighted to announce Ngahina Capper to the role of Operations Manager for Taranaki Mounga Project, starting in late April.

Ngahina is looking forward to being part of the project in the newly-created role, serving our tūpuna Mounga, and helping enhance the health and well-being of Te Papakura o Taranaki.

“I am excited about the opportunity of collaboration and partnership, the opportunity to work with iwi, hapū, key stakeholders and the community to collaborate on what the future might look like on our tūpuna Mounga for our tamariki and mokopuna,” he said.

For the past four years Ngahina has worked as Kaitiaki Whenua with Te Kāhui o Taranaki – a role that was initiated through a partnership with DOC, helping grow and develop its taiao team.

Prior to that he had nearly 20 years working in the mining and petrochemical industry across Australasia where he held a variety of leadership positions, before completing a stint as operations manager for Taranaki Rugby League.

Ngahina enjoys spending time with his whānau, including his seven children and one mokopuna, and has a new-found passion for helping establish his own whānau papakāinga. He also spends his spare time at rugby league and working with young people to help them reach their potential.

He has whakapapa to Te Ātiawa, Taranaki, Ngāti Ruanui, Ngā Ruahine, Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāti Tama, Ngāti Maru, Ngāti Maniapoto.

The Operations Manager role enables Co-Project Managers Sera Gibson and Sean Zieltjes to focus on the broader work programme of the project.

Sean says he is looking forward to having Ngahina on board. “We were really lucky with the high calibre of applicants we received and it puts us in a fantastic position for the future of Taranaki Mounga Project.”

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).