An island that had been off limits to the public for a hundred years has this Easter celebrated its 10-year anniversary as a wildlife sanctuary with the release of some of our most endangered birds.
One-month-old North Island brown kiwi, Jack, is the 79th kiwi to be released onto Rotoroa Island, which now serves as a nursery to raise kiwi until they are big enough to return to the wild.
It is also home to tahake, pateke and many native reptiles.
In 1911, The Salvation Army opened Rotoroa Island as a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility. It was closed to the public while it served more than 12,000 New Zealanders before closing in 2005.
Seizing the opportunity, two philanthropists leased the island and set about transforming it into a wildlife sanctuary.
It took three years to complete the work with contractors planting more than 100,000 trees a year.
“We had 20,000 pine trees we had to fell. We had about 120 barge movements that brought machinery over here. We had contract planters that lived here for three or four months at a time for three winters just planting trees.” former Rotoroa Island trustee John Gow said.
The island was finally opened to the public in 2011.
“I’ve done some interesting things in my life, this would be the best of all of them.”
Island ecologist Jo Ritchie said the project was the result of a huge amount of effort from hundreds of people.
“It’s done a full 360. Now there are 50 hectares of planted forest, heaps of natives, heaps of wildlife.”