If you’ve never visited the Otanewainuku reserve, off Oropi Road, there is a treat in store for you. This beautiful 1200 hectare forest has never been logged and is home to a variety of magnificent native trees such as rimu, kahikatea, tawa, kamahi and rewarewa, and – thanks to the efforts of the army of volunteers from the Otanewainuku Kiwi Trust - a flourishing population of native birds.
The Trust was established in 2002, and immediately set about addressing the problem of the many introduced predators that were maiming the populations of native birds – rats, stoats, possums, ferrets, feral cats and dogs were wreaking havoc.
Through a mix of trapping and baiting, predator numbers have plummeted, to a point where kiwi have been re-introduced, along with kokako, and the populations of these and many other native species are now starting to thrive. The flora also gains because fertile leaf litter, fruit and seeds are able to complete their vital life-cycle.
Over 100 volunteers regularly gather to maintain and re-bait the stoat trap lines and rat bait stations. There was a huge celebration in 2013 when Pistachio, the first kiwi chick in decades to have been bred at Otanewainuku, hatched at Kiwi Encounter. Pistachio was released back into the reserve when she reached a size whereby she was able to take care of herself, and the hope is that she and other kiwi will go on to sustain a healthy population.
The work of the volunteers will be ongoing for as long as there is a rat or a stoat or a possum in the vicinity of the reserve. Therefore it was seen as a highly positive move when, in 2012, the Otanewainuku Kiwi trust set up its own endowment fund with the Acorn Foundation. This allows anyone who supports the work of the trust to make a donation of any size to the fund. All donations are pooled and invested, providing an income stream from the interest generated, that will last indefinitely.