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Tiritiri Matangi
A Model of conservation

Anne Rimmer
Random House
Reviewed by Rob Lahood

IN one of our greatest "gardening" achievements, thousands of volunteers planting more than 280,000 native trees and plants in just a decade turned Tiritiri Matangi into a model of conservation.

With such massive plantings between 1988 and 1998, it has become a remarkable restoration story of the island's natural vegetation and birdlife.

Male kokako, Te Koha Waiata (The Gift of Song), performing "archangel", flapping his wings.Tiri was almost devoid of vegetation after a century of farming, but it's now an open sanctuary for birds and a truly international success story. Eleven species of rare and endangered birds plus the tuatara have been successfully relocated to the island off the Whangaparaoa peninsula just north of Auckland.

In a foreword, British conservationist David Bellamy recalls one of his "most inspiring days" spent on Tiri working with children planting native species for the TV series Moa's Ark and meeting a takahe chick called Bellamy enjoying its new island home.

Today the sanctuary is hugely popular with New Zealanders and overseas visitors who are keen to enjoy the natural environment and learn about the flora and fauna. Bellamy urges readers to read the book and then go see the island for themselves.

Takahe chick and visitor.They are doing this all right; every year more and more people visit the island to see the transformation and take home a wonderful experience, and the song of native birds. Last year almost 40,000 people visited.

This book provides the definitive history of the island - now one of the many jewels of the Hauraki Gulf - from early Maori occupation through the farming period and wartime activities to the amazing restoration of natural vegetation and birdlife.

Author Anne Rimmer has done a comprehensive job - even receiving a handwritten letter from Sir David Attenborough complimenting the book and all those who helped make the island what it is today. Lavish illustrations and magical bird studies. Wonderful.

I'm heading for the ferry building.

Reproduced with permission from the former Weekend Gardener magazine. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH

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Last updated: March 1, 2021