2 December 2019
My name is Ruth and for the past 10 years I have been a volunteer Visitor Host at Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari. I would like to share with you some thoughts about this wonderful safe haven. The predator proof fence enclosing such a large “mainland island” area means we have been able to re-introduce some of our most endangered species which had been lost from the mountain due to predation and environment changes.
Kiwi (Western Brown) were introduced back to the mountain in 2005 and in 2007 after an absence of 100 years the first kiwi was born on the Maunga. We have recently become a kōhanga for Kiwis for kiwi charitable trust and may have up to 500 birds in the future - a testament to the success of the project. So far we have translocated kiwi, takahē, tuatara, tīeke (saddleback), hihi, kōkako, kākā, māhoenui (giant wētā), pōpokotea (whiteheads), pītoitoi (N.I. Robin), kākāriki, kōkopu and kōura. Tītīpounamu (riflemen) are next and recently we received a grant to investigate the possibility of having kākāpō in the future. Wouldn’t that be amazing!
This place is truly a taonga of the Waikato and once a month I have the pleasure of talking to the visitors. I love my job. My family say I walk the talk but actually I am talking the walk, i.e. 5kms of tracks within the southern enclosure. The entry fees for the guided or self-guided SE walks and facilities go straight back into the project along with donations and funding from all quarters as it costs over a million dollars each year to maintain the project. You may think this is wildly expensive but New Zealand wildlife is in big trouble and yes, we are heading towards Predator Free 2050 but in the meantime things out there are dire. We are making a difference with this fence.
The Maunga has come a long way in 16 years and there is still so much more to be done to guarantee preservation of our at-risk flora and fauna. By visiting us you are directly contributing to this significant project. So, if you are looking for something to do over the summer and want to see how New Zealand bush should sound and look like, we would love to see you and P.S. we are always looking for volunteers.