Tell us about the vision of the HealthPost Nature Trust?
The HealthPost Nature Trust was founded in 2017 to create a wondrous ecosanctuary where native species can thrive, working in partnership with the Department of Conservation and Manawhenua ki Mohua (Ngāti Tama, Ngāti Rārua and Te Ātiawa). Our shared goal is to create a safe environment for seabirds to breed again along the cliffs and dunes, and other native species to flourish in the forests and wetlands.
When did it all begin, and how did the vision come about?
HealthPost had been supporting worthy charities for more than a decade – with over 1 million dollars donated to humanitarian and environmental causes. We decided it was time to give back to the land of Mohua Golden Bay that had supported our family business for more than 30 years.
HealthPost’s Peter Butler was flying over Farewell Spit when he spotted the potential for meaningful conservation action right on our doorstep. Despite its iconic status and high importance for biodiversity, the conservation values of Farewell Spit and Wharariki had been largely neglected.
We shared our vision for an ecosanctuary with iwi, DOC, our HealthPost team and local community. It turned out plenty of folk shared the vision of seabirds being able to breed safely on the mainland again, returning to the cliffs of Cape Farewell in their thousands at dusk as they would have once. Bringing back the seabirds is key to restoring an entire ecosystem, as their guano nourishes the land, allowing other flora and fauna to flourish.
Why is regenerating nature and restoring biodiversity so important in Aotearoa?
We have so many species just clinging on here in Mohua and around Aotearoa New Zealand. Unless more of us get involved in regeneration, the losses will continue. There is so much that businesses of all sizes can do to take the lead in community-based conservation in our country, and we want to be an example of this leadership.
As well as reintroducing seabirds, we are protecting remnant populations of threatened species, like the rare Nelson Green Gecko and the Titi (sooty shearwater) - that has persevered against predation on the offshore rock stacks at Wharariki.
There are treasures in every region of Aotearoa that we may not even know are there – they need our encouragement and protection. Seeing our community come together in the service of conservation – monitoring traplines, planting native trees and hand-feeding chicks has been deeply inspiring.
What have been some of the greatest milestones over the 6 years since the project began?
- 2017: The HealthPost Nature Trust was formed.
- 2019: Bioblitz gathered conservation experts from around Aotearoa at Farewell Spit to survey the biodiversity in the area contributing their knowledge for greatest conservation outcomes.
- 2019: Mauri stone buried at Cape Farewell in a dawn ceremony to encourage and enhance the mauri ora of the project and the land.
- 2020: Wharariki Ecosanctuary – a 3-hectare predator-proof sanctuary for seabirds and other species – is officially opened by then Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage. This enables us to progress with planned seabird reintroductions, ensuring the safety of these taonga.
- 2021: Te Whare Whakatā HealthPost Nature Trust field station opens at Farewell Spit as a hub for conservation action, cultural activities, and scientific research.
- 2022: HealthPost Nature Trust supports leading Blue Carbon research at Farewell Spit to uncover the carbon storage potential of the extensive Onetahua seagrass meadows.
- 2022-23: Pakahā (fluttering shearwater) translocations to the Wharariki Ecosanctuary - 100% successful fledge of 106 chicks over 2 years, thanks to thousands of hours of volunteer effort.
- 2023: Formal partnership agreement signed between Manawhenua ki Mohua and the HealthPost Nature Trust with the vision to build strong relationships between people and nature and regenerate Onetahua Farewell Spit as a place of healthy abundance.
How has all this been achieved in just a few years?
Partnership mahi, community involvement and consistent funding have all been key to success. We have a wonderful team of community volunteers who do so much from week to week – often the unsung but vital work of releasing plantings and checking traplines. For monthly updates from the frontline of conservation with experienced Nature Trust Coordinator Marian Milne, and regular volunteering opportunities, sign up here.
We have guidance from Manawhenua ki Mohua and a solid working relationship with the Department of Conservation. Consistent funding from HealthPost of $100,000 per year, plus many paid team hours, encourages other generous organisations and individuals to commit funds and resources to the project. We also have the superpowers of the 80-strong Mohua-based HealthPost team, who have planted more than 16,000 trees in the past 10 years, while the Nature Trust community volunteers have put in many more, as we work toward our goal of creating a safe corridor for threatened species from the spectacular coastline to the bush hills.
There is so much energy in our communities for change right now, and plenty of room for businesses of all sizes to take the lead and harness this energy. The HealthPost Nature Trust is one important way that HealthPost delivers on its B Corp commitment: to be a force for good!
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