Progress to date (timeline)
The establishment of Zealandia (Karori Sanctuary) was one of the most significant breakthroughs in New Zealand’s conservation movement.
Our achievements in urban ecological restoration; the eradication of invasive species; and the recovery of endangered native wildlife exceeded all expectations in its first ten years. We are recognised as the pioneer of a technology (fence plus multi-species eradication) that has provided a major breakthrough in feasible options for the recovery of native wildlife and ecosystems on the New Zealand mainland. 14 fenced sanctuaries, including 3360ha Maungatautari Ecological Island, have been established using technology pioneered at Karori. We have actively advised on similar projects being established in Australia & Japan, and fielded enquiries from Guam, Mauritius, Hawaii, and the Galapagos.
In the space of just 15 years, this has become one of the best places in New Zealand to experience native wildlife in their natural environment, providing invaluable opportunities for all New Zealanders and visitors to learn about, experience and appreciate the natural heritage of New Zealand, and helping to influence their behaviour in their own environment.
Since it was founded in 1995, Karori Sanctuary Trust has achieved many major conservation milestones in regard to establishing the Zealandia eco-sanctuary, wildlife releases and breeding activity, some of which are outlined below.
|1995 July||Karori Sanctuary Trust launched.|
|1999 August||8.6km predator-proof fence completed – a world-first!|
|2000 January||Pest mammal eradication complete. 13 species eradicated – another world-first!|
|2000 June||North Island weka released (captive bred).|
|2000 July||Little spotted kiwi* released (from Kapiti Island) – their first time back in the wild on mainland New Zealand for over 100 years!|
|2000 November||First release of pāteke (brown teal).|
|2001 Spring/Summer||Little spotted kiwi breeding – first time on the mainland.|
|2001 April||First release of scaup (captive bred). Second release of pāteke (brown teal) (captive bred).|
|2001 May||First release of North Island robin (from Kapiti Island).|
|2001 July||Second release of little spotted kiwi (from Kapiti Island).|
|2001 August||First release of North Island tomtit (from Kapiti Island).|
|2001 August||First release of whitehead (from Kapiti Island).|
|2001 August||First release of bellbirds (from Kapiti Island) – to date the only transfer of this species in New Zealand to result in a new breeding population.|
|2001/02 Spring/Summer||North Island robin, scaup and whiteheads breed for the first time at Zealandia.|
|2002 May||Second release of scaup, North Island tomtit, North Island robin, whiteheads and bellbirds (from Wellington Zoo, Kapiti Island and the Akatarawa Ranges).|
|2002 June||First release of North Island saddleback* (from Tiritiri Matangi Island) – their first time back in their natural environment on mainland for over 100 years!|
|2002 August||First release of North Island kākā (from Auckland and Hamilton Zoos).|
|2002 November||First release of kererū (injured rehabilitated birds).|
|2002/03 Spring/Summer||North Island kākā, bellbirds, pāteke and North Island saddlebacks breed successfully in the sanctuary for first time.|
|2002 September||Second North Island kākā release (from Otorohanga Zoo).|
|2002 December||100th North Island robin chick banded.|
|2003 March||Third release of scaup (from Wellington Zoo).|
|2003 June||Third release of North Island tomtit (from Akatarawa Ranges).|
|2003 July||Third release of North Island kākā (from Pukaha Mt Bruce).|
|2003/04 Summer 03/04||Little shags and North Island tomtit breed in the sanctuary for the first time.|
|2005 February||First release of hihi* (from Tiritiri Matangi Island and Pukaha Mt Bruce) – first time back in their natural environment on the mainland in over 120 years!|
|2005 May||Second release of hihi (from Tiritiri Matangi Island).|
|2005 November||First hihi chicks banded and fledged.|
|2005 December||First release of tuatara* (from Stephens Island) – the first wild population to be established on the mainland since they became extinct over 200 years ago.|
|2006 January||First known kererū chick fledges.|
|2006 February/March||First transfer of Maud Island frogs* (from Canterbury University) – the first time released onto the mainland since the species became extinct here over 100 years ago.|
|2006 October||Second transfer of Maud Island frogs (from Maud Island).|
|2006 November||100th hihi chick banded.|
|2007 February||First transfer of Cook Strait giant wētā* (from Matiu-Somes Island).|
|2007 April||Tuatara observed mating for the first time.|
|2007 May||Resource consent granted for the new Visitor & Education Centre.|
|2007 June||Fourth release of North Island kākā (from Wellington Zoo).|
|2007 June||The Trust receives government funding (through the Significant Community-Based Projects Fund) for the new Visitor & Education Centre development.|
|2007 July||10 female bellbirds transferred (from Kapiti Island).|
|2007 August||10 North Island robins transferred from Zealandia (to Matiu-Somes Island) – the first transfer of this species out of the sanctuary.|
|2007 October||Second transfer of tuatara (from Stephens Island) – population now 200.|
|2007 November||Tuatara nesting confirmed for the first time – one female known to have nested.|
|2008 January||100th North Island kākā chick banded.|
|2008 February||Second transfer of Cook Strait giant wētā (from Matiu-Somes Island).|
|2008 February||Maud Island frogs breeding confirmed for the first time – two clutches found.|
|March 2008||100th bellbird chick banded.|
|2008 October||Tuatara eggs are accidently uncovered at Zealandia – marking the first time that tuatara eggs have been found in the wild on the mainland in over 200 years.|
|2009 February||Third transfer Cook Strait giant wētā (first time from Mana Island).|
|2009 March||First juvenile tuatara found – the first tuatara to hatch on the New Zealand mainland since late 1700s.|
|2009 December||Four juvenile kārearea (NZ falcon) hatched – the first in Wellington City since the 1970s.|
|2010 April||Zealandia: The Exhibition and the new Visitor Complex open to the public.|
|2010 May||First pied shag chicks found – the third of four resident shag species now breeding at Zealandia.|
|2010 June||A census of Zealandia’s little spotted kiwi begins to determine population size and condition ten years after the first release.|
|2010 July||Kākāriki (red-crowned parakeets) re-introduced (55 birds from Kapiti Island).|
|2011 January||First transfer of takahē – a retired breeding pair from Mana Island, for advocacy purposes.|
|2011 November||Juvenile tuatara, raised off-site, return to Zealandia and new nurseries.|
|2011 September-November||Sirocco the kākāpō, on loan from DOC, comes to stay. Tours to see him run nightly.|
*Species returned to their natural environment on the mainland of New Zealand for the first time
Mice and mesh
While mice continue to exploit flaws in the fence mesh, their population has been maintained since 2004 at levels 80-90% lower than previous levels by an annual ground-based poison operation in order to minimise potential impacts on native fauna. We have also constructed a 1ha mouse-free enclosure (a ‘sanctuary within a sanctuary’) using the mesh we will progressively use on the perimeter fence. Mice have been successfully excluded from this area for more than 2 years and reptiles and invertebrates inside are expected to show the benefits of this in time.
Weasel and pine
Our biosecurity measures have been effective – we detected and removed weasel in 2004 and weasel and rat in 2008, both probably exploiting storm damage resulting in tree-fall onto the fence or debris wedging open the gate over the stream outlet. The fence has exceeded our expectations with no other species of pest mammal successfully breaching it to date.
Removal of pine trees from the fenceline has now been completed but work remains to progressively move the bush edge further away from the fence to minimise risk of tree fall in future. Almost 100 species of weeds have been targeted for control or removal since 2000, and a similar number of native species have been planted in the valley during this time, many previously rare or missing.
The removal of mammalian predators in 1999 has seen a significant increase in resident birds such as tūī, now dispersing into parts of Wellington where they have been absent for many decades. It has also enabled the translocation of 17 species of native animals back into the sanctuary, six having been extinct from the mainland for over 100 years.
Some of the transfers have exceeded expectations with self-sustaining populations quickly established in the valley despite the risk of dispersal over the fence. Our first transfer of robins from the sanctuary valley to another site occurred in 2007, only seven years after they were first released here. Other species have bred in the sanctuary valley since release but have not yet established self-sustaining populations. Some because they have not been here long enough (for example, tuatara, native frogs and giant wētā), but others due to competition (e.g. tomtits moving outside the fence to avoid the closely related dominant robins inside that have failed to establish territories outside the valley). We are currently challenged by trying to determine why there is a recruitment failure for young females following highly successful breeding seasons of honeyeaters (bellbirds and hihi/stitchbird), and the proximity of plentiful exotic resources in adjacent urban areas outside the safety of the fence (and away from dominant males) could be a factor.