The Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project (RNRP) aims to achieve results similar to those achieved on many protected offshore islands but within a ‘mainland island’. The main role of the project is to trial methods, techniques and practices in pest control and management, and learn how to carry out ecological restoration through rigorous trials and experiments combined with intensive follow-up monitoring. Sharing the results and the lessons learnt with other similar programmes around New Zealand is a key aim.

The work is guided by a Scientific Advisory Group (with internal and external experts) and a Technical Advisory Group. All the field work is being done to a high standard consistent with agreed protocols and best practice.

In 2001, the Friends of Rotoiti was formed by some very motivated local St Arnaud people and soon partnered with the Department of Conservation. Their goal was to benefit and assist the RNRP. As a result of this collaboration and subsequent extra manpower, the initial 850-hectare area of pest control was able to be extended to a total of 5000 hectares, which take in the shores of Lake Rotoiti (at 620m above sea level) up to the 1700m peaks of alpine herb fields, tussock and grasslands on the St Arnaud range and down the other side to the floor of the Wairau Valley. This created a large ‘buffer’ of control around the 850-hectare ‘island’ to help stem the re-infestation of pests.

Locating great spotted kiwi using radio-transmitter tracking equipment, high on the St Arnaud range (Photo DOC, St Arnaud)

The partnership of these two groups has been a real success story in terms of the greater good of the natural ecosystem, but it hasn’t always been plain sailing. Starting out as very separate entities and having slightly different ideas in some areas, a willingness to work together for a common goal saw regular and consistent communication lines open up. The end result today is a flourishing, thriving partnership that is succeeding in achieving their goals.

To read this and other articles on the NZ Today website please click here to sign up for a membership. Once a member and logged in, you'll be able to read all the articles on the site.