April 21 was an important day for East Taranaki Environment Collective (ETEC). It was when representatives gathered at Pukearuhe Marae in North Taranaki to celebrate the beginning of an exciting new era in kiwi conservation.
Three Taranaki conservation projects – ETEC included – received Jobs for Nature funding through the national kiwi charity Kiwis for kiwi.
This funding will allow ETEC to further advance the success we have been achieving in growing populations of resident kiwi in 13,000 ha of land surrounding the upper reaches of the Waitara River in Eastern Taranaki.
Our protected area is also now home to emerging populations of North Island kokako and New Zealand long-tailed bat, with the bat now officially classified as critically endangered.
The Jobs for Nature funding will allow ETEC to expand the amount of kiwi habitat under active predator control management by 5775ha.
This additional acreage will be to the south and east of the current conservation area, and will also connect with land to come under predator management by one of the other projects to receive funding – Te Kohanga Ahuru, a pest control collaboration between northern Taranaki iwi Ngati Tama, Ngati Mutunga and Ngati Maru.
“Kiwi are territorial birds, and our resident population is now growing to the extent that many are migrating out of the land under our predator control. The inclusion of the additional land will allow us to work to protect those birds as well,” says ETEC general manager Rebecca Somerfield.
The expansion programme will require additional staff, and the aim is to create the equivalent of 15.3 full time equivalents (FTEs), this employment funded by the Jobs for Nature grant.
The funding announcement is also a major boost for ETEC expansion plans called Te Whakakotahi which, as well as involving an increase in the amount of land under predator control, also involves development of a field centre at Purangi and construction of a native bird rehabilitation centre and kiwi house in the Inglewood area.