Ōtanewainuku Kiwi Trust is celebrating more than 12,000 hours of volunteer contribution over the past year.
Acting chair Kerry Ryan says this is a staggering contribution.
“That’s over a year’s worth of hours, put into the preservation of this beautiful and unique Bay of Plenty Forest and all of its native inhabitants.
“We are so grateful that people who live in the area see the benefit of gifting us these 12,000 acts of kindness and giving up their time and expertise to help our native biodiversity thrive.
“Without their support, we would not hear the beautiful kiwi or kōkako birdsong in this forest.”
The Trust is responsible for promoting the protection of kiwi, kōkako and other indigenous species in the Ōtanewainuku Forest, about 20km south of Tauranga.
Volunteers make up the lifeblood of the organisation, which was established in 2002 by Te Puke Forest and Bird and other members of the community concerned at the decline of the North Island Brown kiwi in the Ōtanewainuku Forest.
Much of the work of the Trust is based on volunteers – from the trustees through to the pest management teams, kiwi team, kōkako team, education, communication, fundraising, finances, database management and administration.
“This volunteer support has made possible some outstanding results,” says Kerry.
“In just over two years of trapping, 1,368 possums have been removed, making it much safer for our native birds and enabling the native trees to bloom and produce seeds.
“We now have about 28 kiwi and 70 kōkako living in the forest. It’s very exciting to hear more and more feedback from visitors that they have seen a kōkako or heard it’s haunting song.”
One of the many kōkako living in the forest.
The Trust has two very important immediate areas of focus, on top of its kiwi programme.
One of these is to bring more kōkako back into Ōtanewainuku forest, relocating from other areas to improve the genetic diversity of the population.
The second is not one they chose to pursue – a search for a new board chair after their former chair, Bruce Fraser, tragically passed away after a short illness in February this year.
“The Trust was devastated to farewell Bruce, who worked so tirelessly for this cause,” says Kerry.
“We are now in the position of finding a suitable chair who can build on Bruce’s legacy by deepening relationships – with a particular emphasis on our iwi connections, setting direction and helping implement the Trust’s strategy alongside our administrative and operational team.
“We’re hopeful of finding someone with the right light-touch leadership who is passionate about contributing to an even more beautiful and diversely-populated ngahere.”
The Trust receives valuable support from many generous sponsors as well as Bay Conservation Alliance and Volunteering Bay of Plenty, with the latter coordinating volunteers for the Trust with funding from Western Bay of Plenty District Council.
The Trust is holding it’s annual public meeting at 7pm on Monday, July 11, at the Tauranga Yacht Club with guest speaker Jim Lynch - author of the highly successful “Natural Wellington” plan, founder of Zealandia (formerly Karori Sanctuary) and the architect of the fenced ecosanctuary.