The following address was delivered by the Honourable Kate Wilkinson MP, New Zealand’s Minister of Conservation at the time of the release of the Trust’s 100th kiwi in February 2012.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share in this incredible milestone with you all; in what is arguably one of New Zealand's most significant private environmental initiatives.
Firstly, I would like to thank Simon for the invitation and welcome. It's great to be here with you all and a special welcome to Trust patron Rachel Hunter.
Rachel, I'd like to acknowledge your interest in conservation and in particular your work with the Born Free Foundation.
When I first heard about Maungataniwha and the Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust, it wasn't just the scale and scope of the project that impressed me – it was the drive of Simon Hall and his team to make it a success.
Today we are celebrating the return of Takamoana, the 100th North Island Brown kiwi chick to be returned home, to Maungataniwha. It is a special milestone - one that builds on the Trust's other conservation wins.
Simon and his two other trustees, ecologist Dr John McLennan and land manager Pete Shaw have demonstrated a talent for large scale thinking and the ability to achieve important conservation outcomes around the country.
A variety of work is being undertaken on Pohokura, the Maungataniwha Native Forest and the Maungataniwha Pine Forest here in the Hawke's Bay. Te Hoe Station in northern Hawke's Bay and a section at Lake McKerrow in Fiordland also benefit from the vision of the Trust.
Projects as ambitious as the intention to convert over 3,500ha of pine forest back to native forest complement their remarkable work with kiwi recovery; pest control that helps many species including whio (blue duck); and restoring endangered native plants.
While Simon has his sights set on creating a better future for natural heritage, he is also very aware of where our nation comes from. Significant effort goes into studying the past inhabitants of this land and their lives. Numerous Pa and other archaeological features have been discovered and are now protected, thanks to the Trust. Takamoana, the name being given to the 100th kiwi, is of special significance. His name links him to the land and to Simon personally. Takamoana is the name of a Hawke's Bay Maori Chief who lived in the late 1800s and who is also Simon's great-great-grandfather.
However, behind every great vision is a dedicated army of supporters. I must acknowledge the numerous volunteer hours, local iwi and community loyalty that help make projects like this successful. Without this dedication a project of this nature may struggle to achieve everything it wishes.
The work undertaken by Simon and his team demonstrates the co-operation that is developing all over the country, between private land owners, the business sector, like-minded restoration groups and the Department of Conservation. We frequently share common goals and understanding over a range of work, from historic protection to species recovery and pest control. It is important to realise conservation is not just the domain of the Government or something that is only done on Crown land. It is everyone's responsibility. Partnerships with the community and businesses offer a sustainable approach that will allow even more conservation projects to flourish.
The commitment, dedication and success of this project and today's celebration, is a testament to the wisdom and tenacity of all those driving this project. While we have all learned to understand and expect setbacks to restoration projects, it is by working together and supporting each others’ goals that we have proven that success is within our combined capabilities. This, I believe, points to the successful delivery of conservation outcomes in the future.
This type of initiative being undertaken by Simon and the Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust are the way forward and should provide us all with an optimism for the future of conservation throughout New Zealand.
In closing I would like to again thank you, Simon and your team, for having the vision and energy to make things happen for the benefit of conservation, here at Maungataniwha and elsewhere in New Zealand. I wish you well for the future – may your efforts serve as inspiration for others.
© Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust.