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Howick Tramping Club
The Northern Pureora Kokako Recovery Project
The Northern Pureora is an area of high ecological value. The Mangatutu Valley contains a rare and pristine rimu/tawa forest inhabited by the nationally vulnerable North Island kokako as well as other threatened and vulnerable bird species e.g. kaka, kereru, karearea, long-tailed cuckoo and NI fernbird. We have healthy populations of the more common North Island robins, tomtit, bellbird, grey warbler, whitehead, fantail, shining cuckoo, tui and kereru.
More recently a bait station network has been set up in the nearby Tunawaea Ecological Area to protect the remnant kokako population there. This forest was logged in the 1970s and is a mixture of regenerating and natural bush.
The 427ha Rangitoto Station, adjacent to the Mangatutu Valley, has pest control for rats and stoats along their roads, and there are bait stations along the road through to the Tunawaea, providing a narrow corridor between these areas.
With kokako as our indicator species our aim is to increase all bird numbers by removing predators, mainly rats. Volunteers distribute rat poison from September to December as well as clear and maintain the tracks and bait station network. We also carry out Rat Track Indexes to estimate the density of the rat population which should decrease as the poison takes effect.
Laurence Gordon began the predator control to protect the kokako and set up the original 1000ha of bait station network in the Mangatutu. With the aid of volunteers and using her experience in the Hunua Ranges Kokako Recovery Project, Rosemary Gatland has extended this area by a further 500ha using her map reading and GPS skills as well as setting up the 600ha bait station network in the Tunawaea.
We work closely with DOC Maniapoto who provide invaluable advice, practical and ongoing technical support. DOC’s 4-yearly kokako census has shown a dramatic increase in kokako numbers with 109 kokako pair and 10 single birds located in the Mangatutu Valley in 2012. This is one of the most significant kokako populations recording the highest density of kokako with sound genetic diversity. Other native birds have also increased in number.
The Tunawaea kokako census in 2011 found 13 pair and 2 single birds and protection of these birds has been a major new development.
Kokako have been translocated to Mt Bruce/Pukaha and Ark In The Park (Waitakere Ranges) and a healthy population of NI robins has allowed translocation to establish new populations in Puketi (Bay of Islands) and Mt Pirongia where they are successfully breeding. Ark In The Park have also translocated robins to supplement their existing stock.
Those with tramping experience are well suited as volunteers in these hill country areas and we have very loyal support from Pukekohe Tramping Club members, Toi Toi Trekkers, the Auckland Tramping Club as well as many individual volunteers.
Approximately 50 volunteers worked 2600 hours leading up to and over the 2013 - 2014 kokako breeding season.
Wider support is also vital to the ongoing success of our project. The NZ Native Forest Restoration Trust generously provides accommodation on Rangitoto Station, local farmers, Duncan and Rhonda Oliver, provide accommodation on their property, and the Whakatere Maori Trust allow access and bait stations on their land.