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Published: 2016-07-15 00:00:00

A ground-breaking seabird sanctuary project on Mount Karioi at Raglan is to be supported by up to $429,000 over four years from Waikato Regional Council.

Approval for the funding from the council’s natural heritage fund was given at a recent council meeting.

It will go towards pest control aimed at protecting seabirds and boosting biodiversity generally at the landmark coastal site. Payment of annual funding instalments will be subject to satisfactory progress reports.

“This financial assistance begins a new chapter in our support for this work in restoring coastal ecosystems and forests at Karioi,” said the council’s natural heritage team leader, Alan Saunders.

“Our funding will particularly help support large scale pest control of stoats, rats and feral cats that will restore seabird populations in the area.”

Mr Saunders said the project was being run by the non-profit A Rocha Aotearoa NZ organisation, which was a well-organised, professionally-led conservation group with local Raglan community support.

“Their pest control work complements that of other agencies such as the council, Te Whaanga Ahu Whenua trust and the Department of Conservation. The Karioi project is unique in its mountain to sea connectivity, and particularly for its coastal forest and focus on seabirds.”

The trust's New Zealand co-director Kristel van Houte said the council funding would help the project get on and achieve its objectives over a number of years. “It's great to be working with the regional council and our local community and partners to advance this fantastic project. The collaborative nature of this project and the community support have made it possible for us to get this far.”

A Rocha, which has put its own funding into the project, has been working to re-establish Karioi as a seabird mountain since 2009 using a pest control programme which also supports forest birds.

“A Rocha therefore complements and adds value to existing pest control programmes to enhance the biodiversity values of Mt Karioi and its surrounds,” a staff report to the council said.