Since it was founded 1997, the Little Barrier Island (Hauturu) Supporters' Trust has played a significant part in the preservation of Hauturu as an internationally important Nature Reserve.
The island is one of the last remnants of "primeval New Zealand". Established as a wildlife sanctuary in 1895, it is viewed by the Department of Conservation (DOC) as "an invaluable refuge for rare and endangered plants, birds and animals whose mainland habitats have been destroyed".
The Trust's primary objective is to contribute to the preservation of the indigenous values of the island and the realisation of its full potential as a wildlife sanctuary.
The Trust raises funds to assist selected projects on the island. It is also helping to educate the public on conservation issues pertinent to the island.
On Hauturu, since the early 1990’s, DOC has run an intensive captive management programme for Little Barrier tuatara, so as to provide for their future release into the natural environment.
This project led to such successful breeding that more living space was needed.
- In 2002, thanks to an ASB Community Trust grant, supporters' funds, and the efforts of several working parties, the Trust provided a new tuatara enclosure.
- The Trust actively supported DOC in obtaining its resource consent to eradicate kiore, and played a large part in enabling the appeal against the original proposal to be settled.
- The eradication programme was carried out in 2004. The subsequent two-year monitoring period and final island-wide survey confirmed its success.
Once rats (kiore) had, like the wild cats before them, been eliminated, Hauturu tuatara could be set free.
The ceremonial release took place on the 12th Nov, 2006.
The next day, 30 tuatara were transferred to remote release sites. More have followed, and are seen to be doing well in the wild, but a core captive breeding population is being maintained in support. The Trust continues to assist with maintenance work around the enclosures and provides funds to help with the cost of materials and food supplies for the tuatara.
Battling Plant Pests
A key target of the Trust's work is weed eradication. Weeds are a major threat to the native plant life and natural environment of Hauturu. In 1996, DOC began a long-term project to tackle the problem, but with limited resources.
When Biodiversity Funds became available, DOC embarked on a more extensive weed eradication campaign.
Selective use of herbicides is needed to eradicate many of these invasive weeds.
- On the Trust's behalf, Monsanto, Dupont and, more recently, Nufarm have provided necessary herbicides.
The Trust resolved to extend and advance this urgent work.
Climbing Asparagus (Asparagus scandens ) is Hauturu's most threatening invasive weed; it can both smother and strangle native forest. Every year, the south-western sector of the island is systematically searched, on foot and by abseiling. Every plant found is destroyed.
The Trust is pleased to have hastened progress:
Recent history of our involvement: In 2005 climbing asparagus seedlings were found in the lower reaches of the Orau Gorge.
- In 2008, the Hauturu Supporters Trust funded a three-day abseil trip into the gorge during which a large number of adult climbing asparagus plants were found. As a result Orau Gorge has been assimilated into the Hauturu weeding project and is grid searched on foot and by climbers on the cliffs annually.
- An early Tindall Foundation grant enabled the Trust to advance abseiling work on Hauturu's steep cliffs.
- A number of substantial subsequent grants from ASB Community Trust has enabled this work to continue on an annual basis.
- More recently, the Chisholm Whitney Family Charitable Trust has made significant grants to the Trust to enable it to contribute financially to this vital work.
- Donations from Hauturu supporters extended 'on the ground' work over two seasons so that the perimeter of the climbing asparagus infestation was reached and new plot boundaries established.
- The Trust also provided for the installation of permanent markers for the relevant weed plots.
Pampas (Cortaderia selloana and C. jubata ) Pampas is an early coloniser of open coastal areas and disturbed sites such as slips. It has the ability to reach distant open spaces quickly and to blanket them with very rapid growth outcompeting and smothering other vegetation. This is of particular concern on Little Barrier as many of the island’s threatened plant species occupy the open coastal habitats. Pampas was first recorded on Hauturu in 1974 and was widespread by 1978. In 2004 a programme was initiated to control these two species. Various methods of control have been used including boom spraying, “wrecking ball” spraying, and personnel strop spraying (often referred to informally as “dope on a rope”). The initial phase of intensive work has been successful and has now been scaled back mostly to follow-up control. Unfortunately, total eradication is not considered feasible because wind dispersed seeds are likely to reach the island from either the mainland or Aotea/Great Barrier Island. Follow-up work will continue to be required indefinitely.
- A number of substantial grants from ASB Community Trust have
- The Lion Foundation has also provided significant grants to the Trust to assist with this high priority work.
Mexican devil (Ageratina adenophora ) and mistflower (A. riparia ) These species are widely spread.
Prickly hakea (Hakea sericea ) This had become well established on the south-eastern corner of the island, at East Cape.
- In 2001, the Trust embarked on a three- to five-year programme to eradicate prickly hakea. Generous grants from the NZ National Parks & Conservation Foundation have ensured excellent progress.
All of the above plant pests, and many more, pose a threat to both on- and off-shore native forests. Seeds and plant material can all too easily be transferred from the mainland by birds, humans, wind, or even sea.
On Hauturu, constant vigilance is maintained against re-infestation and the arrival of new threats.
- The Trust has publicized the threat posed by coastal weeds, generating a good response from members of the public, concerning both private and public land. Submissions have been made, and continue to be made, to …….
- Hauturu Supporters take part in 'hands-on' work at Tawharanui, the Regional Park nearest to Hauturu, and on Working Weekend visits to the island itself.
- The Trust has funded two aerial photographic surveys of the island.
The second, after the deluge of March 1998, revealed the massive erosion caused. The survey contributed to operational planning and continues to provide a benchmark for a wide range of scientific studies.
The Trust will continue with weed eradication work, as it is vital to the preservation of the island's unique ecosystem.
The Trust's first Patron, artist and ornithologist Don Binney, described Hauturu as “arguably the last virtually intact example of northern New Zealand biosphere… It is one of the relatively few island spaces anywhere that has resisted almost entirely human encroachment, social encroachment, and developmental encroachment."
- Now cat free: This was declared in 1981, after a vigorous and innovative eradication programme.
- Now rat free: This was declared on the 11th June, 2006. Eradication of kiore (Rattus exulans ) was carried out in 2004. A final island-wide survey in 2006 confirmed its success.