Despite the massive land and biodiversity clearances and wetland drainage across the region in the past 150 years, there have been some biodiversity heroes in Hawke's Bay.
While progress rolled on clearing the forest to make way for pasture, Hawke's Bay farmer (and naturalist) Herbert Guthrie Smith had his doubts. His record of the natural history of his area and the Māori history are captured in his acclaimed book Tutira: The Story of a Hawke's Bay Sheep Station which was first published in 1921. He also left part of his farm alongside Lake Tūtira to grow as untouched bush - we know this as 'The Hanger'. The Guthrie Smith Trust now cares for the remaining 90 hectares of land where there is an arboretum and an educational and recreational facility.
Other remnants of bush were saved here and there - many of them now cared for as local councils or Department of Conservation reserves, such as A'Deane's Bush.
The Hawke's Bay conservation community came together in 2016 to take stock of what the many groups had been doing, and where those efforts are being made. Statutory agencies in Hawke’s Bay – including councils and government organisations - also jointly did the stock-take of what they do, and where, that would bring biodiversity outcomes.
We would like to do a similar stock take with farmers and other landowners in the coming months. If you would like to be involved please contact us.
Below are just a handful of examples out of many activities in the region! Some of these groups rely on volunteers, and you can find out how you can help here.
DOC created the Boundary Stream Mainland Island inland from Tūtira, as a protected habitat for native wildlife. It is home to two threatened plants - kakabeak and yellow-flowered mistletoe. Volunteers help maintain traps to keep predator numbers low.
The Ngā Whenua Rāhui funding programme has been operating for 25 years in Hawke's Bay through DOC to protect the values and natural integrity of Māori land and preserve Mātauranga Māori.
Queen Elizabeth II Trust has worked with many Hawke's Bay farmers who have used covenants to legally and permanently protect native forest and wetlands from future loss.
Forest and Bird branches in Central Hawke's Bay, Hastings-Havelock North and Napier have long-standing and very active volunteer and youth programmes. Their members actively care for areas of bush, land and wetlands by clearing weeds, and planting new areas of native bush.
Poutiri ao ō Tāne project is a unique collaborative ecological and social restoration project located at the Maungaharuru-Tutira catchment, 60km north of Napier with Boundary Stream Mainland Island at its heart. This project aims to bring native flora and fauna back into the lives of the local people by embracing the knowledge of a wide range of partners. The project plans to see the return of native species that have been lost to the area over time – and to see these species flourish, not only in the habitats we expect them to be in such as native bush, but also within the agriculture and forestry landscape. It is a sister project of Cape to City.
Cape to City is a ground-breaking and collaborative ecological restoration project in Te Matau a Māui/Hawke’s Bay, along the eastern coast of New Zealand’s North Island. This project is working to restore native species across 26,000 hectares of mainly primary productive farmland. It extends from Havelock North to Cape Kidnappers and encompasses Waimarama and forest remnants at Kahuranaki.
The project footprint also includes Cape Sanctuary, the privately owned and funded 2500ha restoration site established in 2006 which has a 10.6km predator proof fence across the neck of Cape Kidnappers peninsula. Their 50+ years vision is to restore the coastal communities of land and sea birds, reptiles and invertebrates that would once have existed on the peninsula. The project aims to achieve nationally significant species conservation gains within a highly modified farming and multi-use landscape including forestry, tourism and recreation.
At Mahia Peninsula the Whangawehi Catchment Management Group is making great strides to maintain or improve the different cultural, ecological, recreational & economical values of catchment. Central to this aim is the need to address water quality issues & the loss of habitat for important freshwater & estuarine species – a number of which serve as kai. This Group has already seen a great improvement in water quality. They won the Supreme Award of the Green Ribbon Awards in 2017.
Inside Napier City boundaries, the Ahuriri Estuary Restoration Group has been in action since 2003, enhancing the Ahuriri Estuary, especially the 40 hectares of the lower estuary. The group's main function is weed control and new plantings, but they also help with walkway and sign maintenance so that visitors can have a good experience.
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