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Grant gives birds something to sing about

1 June 2006

Maungatautari grant gives birds something to sing about

A $5.5 million grant for the completion of a predator proof sanctuary at Waikato's Maungatautari Mountain is great news, Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

"The area, one of the largest 'mainland islands' in New Zealand, brings the hope of restoring complete safety for a range of species that otherwise exist only on protected islands offshore.

"A community project run by the Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust, it both increases the variety of protected habitats available to endangered species, and brings them within range of many more people who, through learning and enjoyment, will be motivated to put some effort into conservation."

The $5.5 million of Government grant, announced by Prime Minister Helen Clark , will be a huge boost to this groundbreaking project, which is a genuine community initiative involving collaboration between farmers, council, iwi, paid workers, volunteers and the Conservation Department.

"At Easter weekend I walked across the twin summits of Maungatautari and was amazed at the progress on the fence since my last visit. The mountain is spectacular in any sense, rising as it does above the Waikato farmland, almost alone with its native vegetation still intact. At that time I heard tui and kereru, but now I look forward to the much greater diversity and number of birds that will be there when the 47km of predator-proof fence is complete.

"Once predator eradication is carried out endangered species such as tuatara, kiwi, kakariki and even Takahe will be reintroduced to the 3000 hectare mainland island."

New Zealand is one of the world's most threatened areas of unique biodiversity. Tourists come to enjoy it and our public rights of access to conservation areas are far ahead of much of the world. This project may indeed be a world first in conservation. It is uniquely designed to address New Zealand's conservation threats, but there is certainly much that others can learn from it too, Ms Fitzsimons says.

"I applaud the Government's decision to fund this significant project. We have a national strategy that aims to 'turn the tide' and 'restore the dawn chorus'. Maungatautari is a wonderful step in that direction," she says.


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