Dear friends of Maungatautari

Kia ora koutou, here is your latest edition of Maunga Matters.

From the Chief Executive Officer
by Phil Lyons
Kia ora Koutou,
On Sunday 30th May, we held our annual volunteer appreciation day.  This was a celebration of our volunteers and their wonderful contribution to the maunga.  Our stories ranged from 1998 to the present day, acknowledging the dedication of those present, those who have gone before and, sadly, those no longer with us.
We also provided an update of the quantifiable contribution our volunteers have made in recent years.  These figures never cease to amaze me.  In the last seven years our volunteers have generously dedicated 130,000 people hours to the maunga.  Or, assuming the living wage of $22.10 per hour, at total of $2,873,000!  Today this work continues and is vitally important to the success of Sanctuary Mountain.
We now have over 25 volunteer teams whose work includes visitor hosts & guides, takahē & hihi feeding, planting & weeding, line monitoring, track- cutting and the list goes on.  Our volunteers also bring an abundance of passion, dedication, and skills.  From accountants to builders, designers to gardeners, and everything in between.  You are all Inspired Kaitiaki, and on behalf of Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari, I would like to say a big thank you!
Continuing this theme of the importance of our communities and their contribution to the maunga and beyond, I had the pleasure of recently meeting with Peter Russell and Karen Barlow, from Predator Free Cambridge.  Predator Free Cambridge (PFC) wants to engage with northern Maungatautari landowners over the next few months on a new project to better connect Maungatautari’s unique bird life with the pest control efforts of PFC members. 
The Bush to Burbs project is essentially about encouraging more native birds to visit, feed and breed in the wider Cambridge area by ensuring there is effective pest control.  The concept revolves around the bird 'spill-over’ effects from the Maunga occurring now and creating ‘safe corridors’ for further expansion into Cambridge.  Birds such as tui, kaka and bellbird visit bush remnants scattered across the private farmland between the Maunga and Leamington.  The PFC team are excited by the possibilities of this project and the connections to be made with other pest control work, including the regional council’s highly successful Halo project and of course having a massive predator free forested area (the Maunga) as the southern boundary.  For further information about the Bush to Burbs project contact Karen Barlow
Ngā mihi, Phil.
Species Update: 
By Janelle Ward, Species Co-ordinator
Hochstetter’s frogs (Leiopelma hochstetteri) were first discovered at Maungatautari in 2004 and to date we are the only fenced Ecosanctuary to contain this rare and declining species.  Since 2009 the team at Ecoquest has been conducting a triennial survey in several permanent transects to monitor the population over time, with all transects split between two visits (April and November).  After a rapid increase in numbers of frogs after pests were eradicated, the population seems to have been more stable in the past two surveys (2015, 2018).
Normally Ecoquest utilises the survey as a training exercise for their students, but due to Covid19 their cohort of international students have been unable to come to New Zealand.  This left a severe shortfall in surveyors, so this year Ecoquest requested our assistance – for which we leapt (pun intended) at the chance to be more involved!  With a roster of SMM natural heritage staff and volunteers, Waikato DOC staff and Ecoquest staff we were able to make up enough people for teams of 7+ people each day for a total of 5 days survey effort.  The survey itself was preceded by a training session to ensure we understood the methodology before heading out to the transect sites.  The survey was led by Ecoquest ecologist Ramon Balderas and we were delighted to hear him report that a total of 75 frogs were detected over the survey which is an increase over the past survey, including (possibly) the largest Hochstetter’s ever to be recorded!  It was luck of the draw who found frogs each day, but those lucky ones were thrilled to see this small and cryptic endemic species in its natural habitat.  A full report will be sent from Ecoquest in due course which we look forward to receiving.  A huge thanks once again to all the volunteers and staff who helped to achieve another successful survey at Sanctuary Mountain this year.  
The call of the Kiwi
By Craig Montgomerie
Early in May we held a training day to train numerous volunteers in the art of identifying Kiwi calls on the maunga.  It was hugely successful with so many people wanting to come we had to cap the numbers as we didn’t have enough room in our visitor centre to fit them all in.

Paddy Stewart from Ecology Coromandel, who is also the man who introduced me to kiwi surveying during my study years, came over to lead the day.  There was the usual theory component of the training tied in with some basic compass skill instruction.  This was followed by a mass Health and Safety induction by our H&S specialist Dan Howie.  We ended the day by going for a very tame walk around the perimeter of the southern enclosure to listen to real kiwi in a real environment.

All up we recruited around 50 new volunteers!  I hope they will return next year to assist the survey as over 95% of them signed up to participate in this year’s survey which I found truly humbling.  The newly trained volunteers managed to fill my roster to fill all the sites, so I only just managed to find myself one night to participate in the survey myself!

As I write this the second night of the actual survey has just finished.  Yesterday’s results were ….. let’s just say, you have to be a fast writer.  My kiwi practitioner peers tell me 14 kiwi calls per hour in the Taranaki region would be a great night.  One of our sites recorded a whopping 53 calls!

We hope to run the survey training again next year as it’s a really fun skill to learn.  Given how many kiwi we seem to have, the ‘best practice’ of having two persons per site may not be enough.  I have found this year that three people is only just enough; with two people to take the compass bearings and one to record the results.  In the coming years it’s only going to get harder due to the call rates increasing.

Next month I will be reporting on a large kiwi conservation dog survey that Tom Donovan, his dog Leroy and I would have just finished.  The findings are very exciting and hopefully by then we will have a very comprehensive Maanaki Whenua Landcare research population model completed which will help us decide when we need to begin translocating birds off the Maunga!
Education Update
By Tali Jellyman
We can't believe it is half-way through Term 2 already!  It has been fantastic to be able to welcome school groups back to Sanctuary Mountain, especially those whose visits were cancelled at this time last year.  There are a few dates left in Term 2 and lots of spaces available for Term 3 and 4. Contact Tali to book your class:
Outdoor Classroom Day on May 20th is a global movement to make time outdoors part of every child’s day. 
This year Room 2, the senior class from Pukeatua School chose to spend outdoor classroom day doing learning activities at Maungatautari. This day coincided with the release of four tiny rifleman or tītipounamu from Pirongia. The photos show Rm 2 students in the clearing with Sanctuary Mountain educator, Sue Reid, who led the release that day.

Tītipounamu comes from two words: “tītiti” which means “a mirage or vision of”, and “pounamu”, which is greenstone, referencing their greenish plumage. Māori refer to the little birds as messengers to the gods, specifically as one of the messengers of Tāne, god of the forest. Males are smaller than females and have bright green on the head and back. Females are mainly yellow-brown with darker speckles on the head and back.
The pink clothing and ribbons worn by Rm 2 also show their efforts for Pink Shirt Day - Kōrero Mai, Kōrero Atu, Mauri Tū, Mauri Ora – Speak Up, Stand Together, Stop Bullying!  Ka pai Rm 2!
Outdoor nature teaching resources (DOC)
Keen to try teaching activities outside but not sure what to do?
Create lessons using the cross-curricular activity cards and ideas created by DOC for 'Outdoor Classroom Day'.

Click on the links below for access to the resources in both English and Te Reo:
Outdoor learning kit - English
Outdoor learning kit -  Te Reo Māori 
Teachers go free on Tuesdays and Saturdays during the upcoming school holidays in July.  Show us your teacher registration card to receive a Sanctuary Explorer Pass for free.  Please note, this offer is for teachers only.  You're welcome to purchase Sanctuary Explorer passes for your friends and family if they come along too.
Volunteer Appreciation Event
By Lian Buckett
It was an event worth waiting for!  The annual event, usually held in summer, had been postponed several times due to Covid 19 and other factors, but there was a very warm welcome to 88 volunteers and partners recently at the Pukeatua Hall.

Over a hot drink and a tasty selection of afternoon tea goodies that my sister Linzi and I had prepared, the noise levels rose rapidly as people got together to catch up and share stories.  Three Pukeatua children, Kate, Hannah and Adam also helped by providing name tags to all the visitors and also assisted with the packing up - including washing the hall floors! Thank you everybody.

Phil Lyons welcomed everyone and paid tribute to Lance Tauroa and David Coy who had passed on during the year.  He also spoke warmly of Ally Tairi who is unwell at present, and her huge contribution to the project since those very early days in 1998.  Phil went on to highlight how much the volunteers were truly appreciated by MEIT staff and Trustees then presented some impressive figures on the hours that volunteers contribute to the project and the monetary value of that work.  Co-chair Don Scarlet also expressed thanks to all the volunteers on behalf of the Board.

Our guest speaker. Chris Mortensen, an award winning educator from the USA who is passionate about animal conservation, outlined the massive loss of species on the planet, especially in the last 50 years or so. It was a gloomy, depressing scenario but he expressed some hope for the future in the ways that community groups (such as ours at SMM) are joining together to make a difference.

Geoff Taylor, Richard Walker and Sharyn Cawood, from Long River Press rounded out the event by presenting some exciting ideas about celebrating the first 20 years of the history of the SMM project.  They are working on writing a beautiful book of our stories, (as readers will have seen in the last issue of Maunga Matters).  Fundraising for the book is underway.  There was also an invitation to obtain a pre–print priority copy of the book by pledging $100.  Many of those present listed their contact details in a book that Viv Clarke had prepared.  If you would like to have your name added to the list please contact Viv by e-mailing her at
Ngā mihi maioha
(with thanks and appreciation)

The team at Sanctuary Mountain® Maungatautari
Copyright © 2018 Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari,  All rights reserved.
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Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari · 99 Tari Road · Pukeatua, Waikato 3880 · New Zealand