News Articles

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

Smoke-looking clouds on Taranaki maunga are ‘just dust’

Tuesday, January 18th, 2022

Clouds of smoke rising from Te Papakura o Taranaki. Photo – Simon O’Connor/Stuff

Onlookers watched “plumes of smoke” rise from Taranaki Maunga this week, with dozens posting to social media, some calling the Department of Conservation, and one phoning the fire service.

But there was no fire.

The smoke-looking clouds were simply dust caused by “wind and very dry conditions”, Department of Conservation (DOC) senior ranger Dave Rogers said.

The plumes were coming from the Pyramid Stream near the sea-side of the mountain, which in the summer months has no water running through. The same happens with the Oaonui Stream.

Read full Taranaki Daily News article here.

First kiwi chick born on Kaitake Ranges

Wednesday, November 10th, 2021

Photo: Taranaki Kiwi Trust

Just months after kiwi were reintroduced into Taranaki’s Kaitake Ranges, a pair of the birds have successfully hatched a chick, stunning conservationists.

“It’s hard to wrap in a few words just how significant this is,” Taranaki Mounga Project manager Sean Zieltjes said.

“We didn’t expect to be able to achieve this fast. It’s testament to the commitment of the community getting stuck in out there.”

The chick’s arrival was discovered by Taranaki Kiwi Trust staff while monitoring the signal from its father’s transmitter last week.

Ten kiwi, including the chick’s parents Spencer and Pourewa, were released into the area in April, the first to be reintroduced after years of extensive predator trapping by Taranaki Mounga Project and Kaitake Ranges Conservation Trust volunteers to make the area safe for them.

“This one being born at Kaitake would be the first one in a very long time,” Zieltjes said.

Four other males are also incubating eggs, so more chicks are likely in the coming weeks.

Read the full Taranaki Daily News article here.

Students crack code revealing kiwi chick will soon hatch

Wednesday, November 10th, 2021

Students from Oakura School. Photo – RNZ/Robin Martin

A group of Taranaki school children enjoying a crash course in kiwi tracking in Te Papakura o Taranaki (Egmont National Park) have been let in on a secret…

Five pairs of the national bird released onto Kaitake maunga in April are in the midst of a baby – or should that be – chick boom.

A transmitter carried by Haimona – one of 10 western brown kiwi transferred to the Kaitake ranges from the Rotokare Scenic Reserve earlier this year – is beeping in patterns indecipherable to all but those in the know.

Taranaki Kiwi Trust operations leader Sian Portier​ is translating the code with the help of children from Oakura School.

“So there’s nine and four there … so minus two from nine is seven [and two from four is two] … so 72 days he’s been sitting. So, like I said 75 is about hatch time so any day now he should hatch out.”

Kiwi had been absent from the range for decades. But Haimona is incubating an egg, about to become a dad, and he’s not alone.

Portier said the kiwi were wearing a transmitter with a mercury switch which recorded their activity every 10 minutes.

The telemetry codes or beeps provide a wealth of information.

“So those codes will tell us everything from how long a bird has been incubating or if it is incubating what state it’s in, down to what time it came out to feed last night and how many hours it was actually out for last night, the night before and an average over the last four nights as well.”

Read the full Radio NZ article here.


Apprentices relish chance to protect birds on Taranaki Maunga

Friday, October 15th, 2021

Apprentices Mereana Hanrahan, Mawene Bidois, Jarvis Edwards and Tipunakore Rangiwai. Photo – Vanessa Laurie

Seeing flocks of kereru whirring past as he works is a highlight of Mawena Bidois’​ new job as a pest controller​ on Taranaki Maunga.

He’s one of four apprentices who started work with the Taranaki Mounga Project three weeks ago, and is full of enthusiasm for his new career.

“This job gives me the opportunity to work alongside my maunga, my mountain, my biggest aspiration,” he said.

“We are eradicating a lot of predators, so we can release kiwi and whio back into the maunga, so they can thrive in here. Every day is different, that’s what I like about it.”

The apprenticeship scheme is funded through Predator Free New Zealand as part of a nationwide programme to train more animal pest control specialists to support the predator-free vision.

Read the full Taranaki Daily News article here.

Dog attack likely to have killed kiwi on Egmont National Park

Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

A male North Island brown kiwi found dead on Mount Taranaki’s Puniho Track is believed to have been killed in a dog attack.

DOC Taranaki Operations Manager Gareth Hopkins discovered the male adult kiwi wedged between rocks while out hiking last week.

An autopsy found the bird suffered multiple fractured ribs and femur, along with a broken spine. Vets found the fatal injuries were consistent with a dog attack.

Gareth Hopkins says it’s always sad to find a dead kiwi, particularly when its death was completely avoidable: “Dogs are not allowed in Egmont National Park for this very reason – they are a significant risk to wildlife we’re protecting in the park.”

Taranaki Mounga Project Co-Project Manager Sean Zieltjes says the kiwi had no transmitter so was born on the maunga and likely had offspring in the area.

“In the wild, kiwi have only a five percent chance of survival to adulthood. It’s so disappointing to see this healthy adult kiwi killed.”

Representatives from Taranaki Iwi hapū, Ngā Mahanga, had named the kiwi Tohu.

An adult male kiwi can breed for up to 40 years, and potentially father more than 50 chicks – so this kiwi’s death has ramifications for the species population in the national park.

Charges can be filed against owners if there is evidence their dogs have killed kiwi, with a maximum penalty of $100,000 under the National Parks Act.

Members of the public can report sightings of dogs in the national park by calling 0800 DOC HOT, and in doing so, should share as many details as possible on what they have seen.

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Conservation millions also help Taranaki hapū and whānau

Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

Ten million dollars of funding for conservation projects in Taranaki is also fostering hapū and whānau, say project leaders.

Minister of Conservation Kiri Allan has announced $9.98 million from the government’s Jobs for Nature programme for 12 existing projects, creating 58 new jobs over three years.

The projects include pest control, native revegetation, and protecting species including kiwi, hihi and kōkako.

Most of them are Māori projects and include three run directly by hapū, and more by iwi.

Te Ātiawa hapū Ngāti Tawhirikura will get $976,000 towards its restoration of the Waiwhakaiho River from Taranaki Mounga to the sea.

Read the full Radio New Zealand article here.

Students in lockdown can go on virtual field trip

Saturday, September 4th, 2021

Taranaki is the most likely New Zealand volcano to cause a national-scale impact in our lifetimes and a new virtual field trip will help prepare tamariki across Aotearoa to understand and cope with possible disruption.

Prevailing winds could carry volcanic ash to Auckland, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty to disrupt air and surface transport, tourism, farming, power and water supplies.

Previous eruptions have continued for years, decades, or even centuries.

The virtual field trip, Volcanoes: our sleeping mounga in Taranaki, has been produced by the Earthquake Commission, the Volcanic Futures project and online field trip producer LEARNZ, to teach students about volcanic hazards, science and mātauranga.

LEARNZ kaiārahi Shelley Hersey, who is hosting the field trip says with so many students in lockdown, this virtual field trip is a free, accessible, inspirational and informative learning experience to explore Taranaki mounga, for students in Taranaki and around the country.

“Students will learn about volcanoes, but they can also look at ways people are working to understand and monitor volcanic processes to support community preparedness and resilience,” says Shelley.

Read the full SunLive article here.

Kaitake Ranges ready to welcome new arrivals of kiwi chicks

Friday, July 30th, 2021

Conservationists working in Taranaki are closely monitoring two kiwi eggs being incubated by recently released male birds in the Kaitake Ranges.

The adult male kiwi were among 10 male and female birds released into the Kaitake Ranges in April and May.

Taranaki Kiwi Trust operations leader Sian Portier​ said staff have been monitoring transmitters attached to the birds to follow their movements and feeding patterns.

The transmitters now show two male birds incubating eggs, she said.

“It’s very exciting discovery to make only a few months after the birds had been released.

“It’s awesome they got straight into breeding and none of them have been killed by predators.”

Monitoring via transmitters also meant conservationists did not have to physically check until later on, Portier said.

“We don’t have to go close to the birds during incubation period and they are not disturbed.”

The male birds, Myagi​ and Spencer, have been incubating the eggs for 25 days and six days respectively.

Kiwi will normally incubate eggs between 70-80 days.

The birds were released after heavy trapping program over the past three-to-four years by Taranaki Mounga and Kaitake Ranges Conservation Trust (KRCT).

Without the trapping programme the birds, bred at Rotokare Scenic Trust, would not have been released, Portier said.

Read the full Taranaki Daily News article here.

NZ on track for predator-free targets

Monday, June 14th, 2021

A new report is giving hope to conservationists hoping to stem New Zealand’s biodiversity crisis

It’s been five years since the Government launched its ambitious goal of ridding the country of rats, possums, and mustelids by 2050.

The programme aimed to move from piecemeal local projects to a strategic nationwide approach for eradicating the three worst offenders to our biodiversity.

Five years on, the programme is taking stock and reflecting in its first progress report, released at a summit in Wellington last week.

The report shows good progress on five of the seven goals the plan set to achieve by 2025, with one not likely to be achieved in that timeframe and the other not having enough data.

The past five years have also seen the start of 19 landscape-scale predator eradication projects, with six more currently in the planning stages.

These include projects across the country covering areas from Whangārei, to Waiheke, to Aoraki/Mt Cook. Some deal with urban landscape such as Predator Free Dunedin, while others like Pest Free Banks Peninsula include farm land.

One of the first to be funded was Taranaki Mounga, a project to secure 34,000 hectares of Taranaki mountain, ranges and islands from pests.

Director Jan Hania says the project aims to be a model for how pest eradication can work on a large scale.

“We want to be an example of what’s possible,” says Hania.

“This is more than just a conservation project, this is about people connecting with our land.”

Read the full Newsroom article here.