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Kaikoura Island a tremendous opportunity

Kaikoura Island 'a tremendous conservation and education opportunity'.

Forest and Bird today announced its strong support for the protection of Auckland's Kaikoura Island and for greater recognition of the importance of the Barrier Islands in the Hauraki Gulf for threatened plants and animals.

Society President Dr Gerry McSweeney said that Forest and Bird Councillors from all over New Zealand unanimously supported protection of 540-hectare Kaikoura Island as a public reserve at its 80th Annual Conference in Wellington this weekend.

"Kaikoura Island has great potential for outdoor recreation and environmental education close to New Zealand's largest city. Removing pests from the island would create an island haven to protect threatened birds and plants," he said.

The purchase and protection of Kaikoura Island, spearheaded by the Native Forest Restoration Trust, has been proposed as a memorial to Sir Peter Blake.

"Kaikoura Island provides a tremendous opportunity for self discovery, environmental education and the development of water and wilderness skills for young Aucklanders in a protected environment," Dr McSweeney said.

"The restoration of Tiritiri Matangi Island has shown what the people of Auckland in partnership with the Department of Conservation (DOC) and other agencies can achieve for conservation. Restoration of Kaikoura Island would build on the lessons learnt on Tiritiri Matangi Island and expand the protection of native birds and plants in the Hauraki Gulf," he said.

"Forest and Bird is strongly of the view - guided by our Great Barrier Island Section and Hauraki Islands Branch - that pest eradication on the adjacent Great Barrier Island is also an important long term goal," he said.

"It is tragic that North Island kokako have disappeared off Great Barrier Island in the last 12 years even though three quarters of the island is conservation land or scenic reserve. Brown teal are also seriously threatened - Great Barrier Island is their most important remaining stronghold," He said.

"Forest and Bird is not seeking to increase the area of public reserves on Great Barrier Island but instead sees pest control in partnership with private landowners on Great Barrier Island as vital to create one of the world's great nature sanctuaries for wildlife, residents and visitors alike," he said.

"Forest and Bird also urges DOC to make rapid progress on developing Rakitu as an island sanctuary. DOC purchased Rakitu (Arid) Island ten years ago but Forest and Bird believes little progress has been made towards developing it as a sanctuary for endangered species.

NOTES

Great Barrier Island is the stronghold of the threatened brown teal. Brown teal is northern New Zealand's most threatened water bird.

Great Barrier Island is New Zealand's largest possum-free island.

FULL TEXT OF RESOLUTION

1. Forest and Bird supports the protection of Kaikoura Island as a public reserve and believes it has great merit for its nature conservation and outdoor recreation opportunities.

2. Forest and Bird supports working with the Great Barrier Community with the long-term goal of eliminating rats and other introduced pests to safeguard the island's special plants and animals including restoring its brown teal population.

3. Forest and bird urges the Department of Conservation to make rapid progress in enhancing its Rakitu (Arid) Island reserve off Great Barrier Island's east coast as an Island Sanctuary.


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