Initiative to help save Northland's endangered fairy terns

20 December 2017

A heavyweight group of interested parties has signed a deal to help save a Northland seabird species that is flying on the brink of extinction.

The tara-iti, or fairy tern, is the most threatened of New Zealand's endemic birds.

A small population of around 40 birds survives only between Whangarei and the west coast north of Auckland, with fewer than a dozen breeding pairs.

Department of Conservation (DOC), Te Arai and Mangawhai Shorebirds Trust, Te Uri o Hau Settlement Trust and environmental consultancy Boffa Miskell have signed a memorandum relating to the Te Arai and Mangawhai breeding sites of the critically endangered birds.

"I'm very happy that we're expanding our work together to help protect our native wildlife, and the habitat that they rely upon,'' DOC operations director for the Northern North Island, Sue Reed-Thomas said.

''The partnership brings together DOC and the Shorebirds Trust with iwi and private business and underpins the work done by many dedicated locals and community groups in the past at Mangawhai and Te Arai.

''The work by Te Uri o Hau is been invaluable in getting to this point.''

The combined initiative's projects will support recommendations of DOC's Biodiversity Group for the fairy terns' recovery plan, including nest protection measures, predator control at breeding sites, checking eggs to determine fertility and rescuing abandoned eggs for artificial incubation.

The Te Arai and Mangawhai Shorebirds Trust was established in 2014 by the owners of the Tara Iti Golf Course at Te Arai to provide financial, technical and research resources to organisations and volunteers working to save fairy terns and other at-risk shorebirds.

"These are long and effective relationships," Te Uri o Hau chairman Russell Kemp said.

"This partnership formalises and strengthens them, and provides a framework for moving forward. Importantly,it builds upon the tremendous work done by local volunteers who have looked after the endangered fairy tern for decades, and maintained the numbers of the existing population through their own time and effort.

''We're inspired by their dedication, and very pleased to be able to build upon their accomplishments through the considerable resources that this partnership puts into place."

In 2003 Te Uri o Hau received a swathe of coastal land and pine forest at Te Arai as part of Treaty of Treaty of Waitangi claim redress.

The iwi later sold the parcel of land on which a developer formed the Tara Iti Golf Course.

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Northern Advocate | 20 Dec 2017