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Massive boost for mountain

Courtesy of Te Awamutu Courier

Jim MylchreestCredit

A $2.1Million grant has been awarded to the Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust from Environment Waikato’s newly-formed Natural Heritage Partnership Programme.

Environment Waikato will make $800,000 available immediately, with the remaining $1.3Million provided in July 2005.

Jim Mylchreest, chief executive for the Maungatautari Trust, is delighted at the news.

“This major donation propels the project forward and indicates the groundswell of support from the community for the restoration of Maungatautari.”

The Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust is going to build a pest-proof fence around the bush edge of Maungatautari, eliminate all the introduced pests, and then reintroduce threatened species such as kiwi, takahe, tuatara, kokako and kakariki onto the mountain.

Two enclosures were built on Maungatautari last year. Pest monitoring following poison drops in the enclosures is showing the ‘all clear’, which means that a kiwi reintroduction into them looks set for later this year.

The reintroduction of flightless birds into the enclosures will continue while the perimeter fence is being built. Once the fence around the bush line of Maungatautari is finished, pest eradication over the whole mountain will start.

Reintroductions of New Zealand’s native rare and endangered wildlife, on the main mountain, should begin within the next two-and-a-half years. Environment Waikato strategic development manager, Kevin Collins says the project is the first to be approved under the new Natural Heritage Programme, which is funded by a targeted conservation rate adopted by the regional council last year.

The new rate received strong public support through EW’s Annual Plan, he says.

Cr Barry O’Connor, who represents the Maungatautari area, said the project was already showing major conservation results. Twenty new insect species had been found on the mountain already, along with an unknown population of the rare Hochstetter’s frog.

Chairman Jenni Vernon said the Council was impressed with the work done by the Trust so far and she hoped Central Government would also make a substantial contribution to the project.