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Published: 2007-11-28 00:00:00

A Hamilton environmental group aims to provide a major boost to Environment Waikato’s Hamilton Halo project with a new plan to control pests at Maungakawa Reserve, near Cambridge.

Tui2000 plans to raise more than $100,000 to fund the bait needed to control possums and rats, which raid native bird nests and eat eggs and chicks.
“Tui and other native birds are under such pressure from predators they’re not raising enough surplus chicks to colonise places like Hamilton and Cambridge,” Tui2000 chairman Mairi Jay said.
“In order to get native birds back into these areas we need good habitat and birds that are available to go and nest there.”
Environment Waikato’s Hamilton Halo project, launched this year, aims to increase the numbers of tui and other native birds visiting Hamilton. 
Under the project, pest control programmes will be set up at forested sites within 20km of the city, as tui fly up to 20km to feed.  One site has already been established at Old Mountain Rd, Whatawhata, and there are plans to add more as funding becomes available.

Tui2000 aims to ‘adopt’ Maungakawa Reserve, taking responsibility for raising money for pest control operations and enlisting and training volunteers. Maungakawa Reserve is administered by the Department of Conservation, which supports the restoration programme.
“Maungakawa Reserve is a great site because there are already tui breeding there, it’s very accessible to the public and the scenery and views are spectacular,” Ms Jay said.
“It’s already a great picnic spot that’s very popular with families and sportspeople and it’s historically valuable, as well as ecologically valuable, for both Maori and Pakeha.  We hope to get quite a wide number of people interested and involved.”

Waipa District Council natural heritage manager Tony Roxburgh agreed Maungakawa Reserve was already a popular recreation area.

“Doing pest control there will create a safe haven for tui and other birds, which will make the reserve even more attractive and benefit the entire Cambridge area,” he said.
Environment Waikato biosecurity officer Ben Paris said the council was very enthusiastic about working with Tui2000 to expand the Halo project.
“We’re really keen to get the community involved, so having Tui2000 on board is fantastic,” he said.
Conservation Volunteers New Zealand, an organisation that connects overseas volunteers with local environmental projects, provided some extra help last week by installing more than 100 bait stations at Maungakawa Reserve.  These will eventually be filled with bait and maintained by pest control contractors.
Tui2000 is an environmental group that was established in the 1990s and has been working to bring tui and other native birds back into Hamilton and surrounding towns.