Funding boost supports biodiversity and climate change mitigation efforts on Mokoia Island

February 12, 2021

Funding boost supports biodiversity and climate change mitigation efforts on Mokoia Island

Native flora, fauna and endangered species on Mokoia Island are set to flourish, thanks to a combined $20,000 grant from Te Arawa Fisheries Iwi Partnership Grants programme, Ngāti Whakaue and Te Ure o Uenukukōpako

The grant will be instrumental in helping the Mokoia Island Trust to maintain the island environment and help preserve it for future generations.

Mokoia Island Trust Chair, Rawiri Bhana says the grant couldn’t have come at a better time.

“The trust’s income from tourism, and our ability to maintain the island, was wiped out overnight with the Covid lockdown, so when we returned, we unfortunately had extra mahi to do to eradicate pests. We had little funding to work with, so the grant is a huge lift for us,” he says.

It is thought there are around 30 kiwi on the island, as well as other endangered birds including kōkako, weka, toutouwai (North Island Robin) and tīeke (saddleback) as well as skinks.

Rawiri says climate change has had devastating impacts on the island and as part of the grant, they have already commissioned local engineering firm, Opus (WSP), to measure the erosion to the well-known Hinemoa Pool.

“From the report, it is estimated that up to four meters has eroded over the last 60 years and we need to act swiftly to find ways to mitigate against climate change and keep the historic taonga intact,” he says.

The remainder of the funding will support the volunteers who dedicate their time to maintain the island by lawn mowing, track clearing, and inspecting and resetting traps.

“We had 30 traps two years ago and with this funding, we will be able to source enough trap materials to make our own, which brings our trap toll to 180,” says Rawiri.

“Our maintenance work will never be over – we are the kaitiaki of the island and we have a responsibility to look after it for future generations, as well as to provide a sanctuary for native birds and skinks to repopulate.”

Although the Island is not open for general public access, the Trust regularly host wānanga and provide first-hand experiences for local schools who have an interest in biosecurity.

Te Arawa Fisheries Chair, Chris Karamea Insley, says the decision to support the Trust and its kaupapa was obvious.

“Since launching our Ka pu te ruha ka hao te rangatahi climate change strategy last year we have a new environmental focus and want to help support our iwi organisations that aim to have sustainability embedded into everything they do.

“The work the Trust and its volunteers do on Mokoia Island is multifaceted, from educating, protecting native species, through to providing a space for people to reconnect with their whakapapa – it’s incredible and we are proud to support them and their efforts,” he says.

The Te Arawa Fisheries Iwi Partnership Grants Programme assists iwi organisations to deliver community projects that provide direct benefits to iwi members. It has been running since 2011 and has given out $1.2 million in the past ten years.

To keep up to date with progress on the island or to volunteer for monitoring, trapping or clearing, follow the trust’s Facebook page.

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