Grant for kiwi and tuatara

ECT comes to party to help visitor experience project at Whinray Reserve.

ECT comes to party to help visitor experience project at Whinray Reserve.

Tuatara like this one will benefit from the latest funding from Eastland Community Trust.

A UNIQUE tuatara and kiwi visitor experience developed at Whinray Reserve has received a boost with a $33,000 grant from Eastland Community Trust.

Whinray Ecological Charitable Trust will use the grant to extend the existing kiwi chick protection fence, which will enable them to introduce endangered tuatara to the site and develop a visitor and education experience unlike anything in the country.

The predator fence will encase a wild forest setting in which visitors will enjoy supervised, barrier-free interaction with wild tuatara during the day and young feeding kiwi at night.

In time, the enclosure will also house lizards, weta and native snails. The forest surrounding the enclosure will be home to weka.

While zoos tend to keep species like tuatara and kiwi behind glass, Whinray Trust spokesman Steve Sawyer says they are excited about what the innovative approach will mean for local conservation.

“Imagine tuatara wandering freely and young kiwi feeding at your feet, being able to feed them and interact with them without a glass barrier.

“There is no better way to promote environmental care and education than by allowing people, particularly our schoolchildren, to experience kiwi, tuatara and other unique species at a personal level.

“We hope schools and teachers will see this as a key asset for developing science education in the region.

“It will link into Whinray Reserve, where there will be opportunities to study forest bird species, habitats for rifleman and kakariki nest boxes, carry out insect and frog research and surveys, and do kiwi, bat and weka studies using acoustic sampling and digital bat detection equipment.

“We want to make science fun and exciting for kids, which leads on to a better understanding, passion and therefore protection into the future.”

Beyond the environmental benefits, the trust expects that by mid-2018 the experience could double the 1000 annual visitors to Whinray Reserve.

“Not only will that growth improve our sustainability, it will improve the sustainability of a number of small businesses in our community — from boutique accommodation providers to the local cafe.”

ECT general manager Leighton Evans says trustees were drawn to the project for a number of reasons.

“It creates both environmental and economic sustainability, transforms the educational potential of the reserve and adds to the region’s tourism offering.”

Trustees were equally impressed by the long-term community support for the project.

“The Whinray Ecological Charitable Trust has been working on this project for almost 20 years, and in that time they have gathered their community around them and created a sustainable ecological venture.

“ECT is very pleased to be able to help the team complete the project and support the aspirations of the Motu community.”

Mr Sawyer says they are excited about both the financial support from ECT and support for the long-term vision for the project and its potential benefits.

They are hoping to have it ready for visitors this time next year and as the project is still in the early stages they are also looking for a major sponsor.

“It is in the early stages but will become a science hub for schools and link with a number of other national projects such as Longbush Eco-Sanctuary and even Cape Sanctuary in Hawke’s Bay.

“Universities as far away as the United States and a range of world-renowned ecological specialists throughout New Zealand and the Pacific will also be involved.”

A UNIQUE tuatara and kiwi visitor experience developed at Whinray Reserve has received a boost with a $33,000 grant from Eastland Community Trust.

Whinray Ecological Charitable Trust will use the grant to extend the existing kiwi chick protection fence, which will enable them to introduce endangered tuatara to the site and develop a visitor and education experience unlike anything in the country.

The predator fence will encase a wild forest setting in which visitors will enjoy supervised, barrier-free interaction with wild tuatara during the day and young feeding kiwi at night.

In time, the enclosure will also house lizards, weta and native snails. The forest surrounding the enclosure will be home to weka.

While zoos tend to keep species like tuatara and kiwi behind glass, Whinray Trust spokesman Steve Sawyer says they are excited about what the innovative approach will mean for local conservation.

“Imagine tuatara wandering freely and young kiwi feeding at your feet, being able to feed them and interact with them without a glass barrier.

“There is no better way to promote environmental care and education than by allowing people, particularly our schoolchildren, to experience kiwi, tuatara and other unique species at a personal level.

“We hope schools and teachers will see this as a key asset for developing science education in the region.

“It will link into Whinray Reserve, where there will be opportunities to study forest bird species, habitats for rifleman and kakariki nest boxes, carry out insect and frog research and surveys, and do kiwi, bat and weka studies using acoustic sampling and digital bat detection equipment.

“We want to make science fun and exciting for kids, which leads on to a better understanding, passion and therefore protection into the future.”

Beyond the environmental benefits, the trust expects that by mid-2018 the experience could double the 1000 annual visitors to Whinray Reserve.

“Not only will that growth improve our sustainability, it will improve the sustainability of a number of small businesses in our community — from boutique accommodation providers to the local cafe.”

ECT general manager Leighton Evans says trustees were drawn to the project for a number of reasons.

“It creates both environmental and economic sustainability, transforms the educational potential of the reserve and adds to the region’s tourism offering.”

Trustees were equally impressed by the long-term community support for the project.

“The Whinray Ecological Charitable Trust has been working on this project for almost 20 years, and in that time they have gathered their community around them and created a sustainable ecological venture.

“ECT is very pleased to be able to help the team complete the project and support the aspirations of the Motu community.”

Mr Sawyer says they are excited about both the financial support from ECT and support for the long-term vision for the project and its potential benefits.

They are hoping to have it ready for visitors this time next year and as the project is still in the early stages they are also looking for a major sponsor.

“It is in the early stages but will become a science hub for schools and link with a number of other national projects such as Longbush Eco-Sanctuary and even Cape Sanctuary in Hawke’s Bay.

“Universities as far away as the United States and a range of world-renowned ecological specialists throughout New Zealand and the Pacific will also be involved.”

• The next funding round for ECT’s minor and major funding pools closes on April 28. Those interested in making an application can download the application form from ECT’s website: www.ect.org.nz

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