Ten years of threatened plant restoration work on Moutohora marked

1 November 2008

Last month saw a team from the Department of Conservation, Wildland Consultants Ltd and Naturally Native NZ Plants Ltd mark 10 years of restoration of some of New Zealand’s most threatened native plant species on Moutohora.

The team spent several days on the island to monitor and plant a range of New Zealand’s threatened plant species which include pingao, hinarepe (sand tussock), tawapou, Cook’s scurvy grass, New Zealand cress, sea spurge, NZ spinach, mawhai (native cucumber), and two species of Pimelea. The threatened plant restoration programme began in 1999 as part of a wider programme to restore ecosystems on Moutohora to resemble that present prior to vegetation removal by fire, grazing of farm stock and the effects of animal pests previously present on the island. DOC, Wildland Consultants Ltd, Naturally Native NZ Plants Ltd and Te Runanga o Ngati Awa have been working together in partnership on the threatened plant programme since its initiation.

DOC botanist Paul Cashmore, says “while not all the species have established we have had great success with others. The whole process has been a learning curve for all involved as some of the species had not been widely planted in the wild before so there was a bit of trial and error before we were able to fine tune their habitat requirements”.

Mr Cashmore also acknowledged the efforts of the local Whakatane nursery staff at Naturally Native NZ Plants Ltd. “Jo Bonner and her team at the nursery have grown all the threatened plant stock for the island restoration programme since 1999 and consistently managed to get good quality stock to the island that can withstand the harsh dry environment in which they will experience on Moutohora, particularly over the summer months when droughts are commonplace.”

Getting planting stock safely to the island can be a challenging task for the planting team. Plants have to be specially prepared in the nursery and boxed up ready for a sometimes rough boat journey to the island and a difficult beach landing. Plants are then often carried long distances around the island in packs or boxes to their planting sites, before being finally unpacked and planted.


Staff from the Department of Conservation, Wildland Consultants Ltd, and Naturally Native New Zealand Plants Ltd planting threatened native plant species on the dune systems of Moutohora (Whale Island).
(Photo Credit: Department of Conservation)

Mawhai or native cucumber - a threatened native climber now thriving on Moutohora following reintroduction.
(Photo Credit: Department of Conservation)

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