The following article was originally published in the December 2007 Nga Kohinga magazine.
Te ahi-kaa of Te Whanau a Hunaara and Te Whanau a Takimoana have been actively involved in the restoration of Whangaokena Island to it’s natural fauna and flora environs, habitats for bird and wild life, re establishing of essential food chains to sustain theTuatara.
Pakeke and mokopuna have assisted in the plantings of native trees on the island. Local schools including Wharekahika, Te Waha o Rerekohu Area School, Whakaangiangi, Kawakawa mai Tawhiti, Tikitiki and Tapere-nui-a-Whatonga in Rangitukia collected insects to establish the food chains especially for the Tuatara such as green skinks and wetas.
A komiti to assist in the request for and the return of the Tuatara to Whangaokena Island was established in early 2006 after hui held at Hine Pare Rangitukia and Matahi o Te Tau Marae, Horoera. The generous response received came from Ngati Koata and the translocation process was initiated with a Memorandum of Understanding to be signed between both Ngati Porou and Ngati Koata Iwi. The co-management of the translocation process will continue to involve the Department of Conservation.
Te Riu o Waiapu marae have endorsed future plans to develop whanau and hapu Kaitiakitanga – Environmental Sustainability Plans. This includes investigating local ecosystems, plant and flora and wildlife and is compatible with matauranga a whanau and tikanga in traditional mahinga, kapata kai.
The komiti are confident that the translocation process will resume early 2008 dependant on weather conditions. In fact Ngati Porou mai te rohe o Ngati Porou ki te motu are in anticipation of a great day of celebrations to acknowledge the donating Iwi and their taonga. This act of generosity will ensure the legacy of the island restoration and the Tuatara will be for future generations.
Finally, although DOC have a concern with the threatened actions of a small Gisborne based Waitangi Claims group to embarrass the Iwi donor, local whanau are adamant that tikanga will prevail. Ka noho tenei kaupapa i roto i nga tikanga a kuia ma, a koro ma. Ara ko te aroha, te tika me te whakapono.
Na April Papuni – Ngai Tane, Te Whanau a Hunaara, Te Whanau a Hine Pare.
Brief history provided by Hal Hovell –Te Whanau a Hunaara (DOC staff)
|1898||Whangaokena island gazetted as a light house reserve|
Lighthouse built and staffed, gardens, goats and pasture grasses introduced, woody vegetation declines
|1901||Native land court determines ownership shares and|
payment for island. Hoani Kahaki states he removed forty Green Tuatara from island to re - populate a mainland site
|1922||Light shifted to the mainland – Tuatara extinct at this time.|
|1930||Lighthouse purchased and removed by George Goldsmith. Henry Dewes and Wiki Goldsmith assisted|
|1960||Goats eradicated by George Goldsmith to slow down erosion and to save last pohutukawa tree|
|1970||Wildlife Service survey identify wildlife species|
|1981||Island gazetted as a Government Purpose Reserve|
– Wildlife Refuge
|1985||Botanical survey of island; remains dominated by introduceds grasses, only three shrub species present|
|1986||Wildlife service planted seven pohutukawa, began boxthorn control|
|1987||Department of Conservation formed taking over from Wildlife Service|
|1988||92 Waitangi Treaty claims lodged by Lawrence Tukaki-|
Millanta, te Rimu Trust, mountain Claims Committee, Te Runanga o Ngati Porou
|1993||Te Whanau a Hunaara call hui at Matahi o te Tau Marae to discuss restoration of the island, halt erosion and protection of kaimoana resources in the Horoera area including waters surrounding the island.|
|1996||Te Whanau a Hunaara and Te Whanau a Takimoana hui called at Matahi o te tau Marae to discuss the restoration of the island working with DOC|
|1997||Te Whanau a Hunaara and Te Whanau a Takimoana hui presented with first restoration proposal from DOC, including kiore eradication’|
- poison drop to eradicate kiore in August
- plant cuttings taken for nursery propagation
|1998||Te Whanau a Hunaara and Te Whanau a Takimoana with Tangata Whenua – DOC undertake first plantings on Whangaokena|
- Pakeke, nga whanau, nga kohanga reo me nga kura mai Matakaoa, Kawakawa mai Tawhiti ki Te Riu o Waiapu involved initial plantings
|1999||Re-planting continue - October Whangaokena island declared rat free - Identification of seabird nestings begin|
- Entomologist employed to identify invertebrate and fauna remains with view to restore natural environment necessary for tuatara re-introduction
|2000||Ecological Restoration of Whangaokena Discussion paper released|
- Whangaokena registered on the Tuatara breeding programm still on-going)
|2000 - 2007||Natural environment and ecosystems for bird life have been re-established successfully, seal numbers are in excess of 1000 annually, bird population increasing including ; Harrier Hawks, Dunnock Sparrows, Sky larks, Gannets, Welcome Swallows, Starlings (nesting), Fantails, Blackbird, Finches, Blue Penguin|