Cyclone repair work at Marunui Conservation 
... the kiwi sanctuary on our doorstep

The recent cyclones and extreme rain events created havoc for many in the area. This was certainly the case at Marunui Conservation - the kiwi sanctuary in the Brynderwyn ranges near Mangawhai.
From 2013 to 2015 Northland brown kiwi were translocated to Marunui Conservation. Since then the team at Marunui, together with local volunteers, have been working hard to ensure the kiwi are protected.
On its 420ha QEII covenanted property up King Road, Marunui maintains a network of 7 trapping routes totalling 24km and servicing 239 predator and possum traps. Cyclone Gabrielle and the rainstorm event of 24 February caused extensive slip and windthrow damage to its track network.
The southern boundary trapping route, which services 43 traps over its 5km length, was the worst affected. It follows Marunui’s southern fenceline and traverses a mixture of kanuka shrubland, gumland vegetation and regenerating kauri / podocarp forest on the steep slopes of Pa Hill. The track crosses 4 permanent watercourses that carry high flows during periods of heavy rain.
Cyclone Gabrielle resulted in multiple areas of windthrow across the track preventing access for trappers. Marunui shareholders started clearing fallen trees immediately but had not made much progress before the rain event of 24 February. That caused 6 major slips which took out sections of the track and made other sections hazardous. The photo shows the scale of land movement. Three slips of this size crossed the track.

The scale of slip damage was overwhelming for a small shareholder-funded organisation. How could they get trapping back up and running to protect kiwi in time for their breeding season which is imminent?   At this point Piroa Conservation Trust (PCT) stepped in to help. It provided funding to engage trapping experts Good Wood Aotearoa to assist with restoration of the southern boundary route. The Trust considers Marunui’s predator operation is vital to the success of kiwi recovery in the area. Without this work, combined with the Piroa Conservation Trust’s extensive pest control network across the ranges, (on both public and private land), kiwi would not now be recorded in more than 40 sites, many right on our doorstep.

All Marunui’s trapping routes, including the southern boundary, are now operational as a result of the excellent partnership between Marunui Conservation and PCT and the hard work completed by Marunui shareholders and Good Wood Aotearoa. Marunui’s first trapping day since the February rain event was successfully held on 6 May. If you are keen to volunteer your help in the future let us know at [email protected]

Marunui Conservation - Protecting Kiwi Chicks

From 2014 to 2016 North Island Brown Kiwi were translocated to Marunui Conservation just to the north of Mangawhai in the Piroa-Brynderwyn ranges. Since that time the team at Marunui and other local volunteers have been working hard to ensure the kiwi are protected.

Over the past two months it’s been exciting at Marunui Conservation hearing pairs of kiwi calling at night. Keeping them safe from predators on its 421ha bush-covered property is one of Marunui’s main tasks and with the breeding season approaching it becomes a vital activity.

Despite the difficulties caused by Covid 19 over the past two years it has been possible to undertake and complete all the predator trapping rounds, thanks to the efforts of Marunui’s residents and the help of local volunteers.

Trapping has been carried out every three weeks from November to March and 4-weekly from April to October using a variety of baits depending on the type of trap. The majority (120) are for catching mustelids – ferrets, stoats and weasels. These include DOC200s, DOC250s and Fenns. They also catch rats, while Trapinators and Timms traps target possums.

In 2021 the catch totalled 12 stoats, 5 weasels, 5 feral cats, 156 possums, 25 hedgehogs and 228 rats. In addition, annual baiting for rats and possums was carried out in September-October, considerably reducing the numbers of both. So far this year 6 stoats, 3 weasels, 1 feral cat, 25 possums, 11 hedgehogs and 28 rats have been caught.

In addition in 2021 the Ring of Steel project, which involves the servicing of mustelid traps on properties surrounding Marunui and including in Hancock’s Waipu Forest, caught 26 stoats, 31 weasels, 1 feral cat, 56 hedgehogs and 427 rats.

Stoats are the major killer of kiwi chicks so the removal of the above 44 stoats will have been key to chick survival, potentially enabling them to reach breeding age. Together with weasels, stoats also predate other native birds, eggs, lizards and insects. Although no ferrets have been caught in Marunui since 2019, they present a major threat to adult kiwi, illustrated by the death of one male last year in Waipu Forest. A ferret was recently seen on a neighbouring property and extra traps were deployed.

The recent sighting at night in Marunui of a juvenile kiwi and the number of calls heard gives confidence that the combined efforts of all involved in Piroa-Brynderwyns Landcare are making a significant contribution to kiwi recovery in the Brynderwyns and surrounding areas.

Marunui welcomes new volunteers to help it maintain the levels of trapping required to protect kiwi (training and tools provided). If you are keen to volunteer email [email protected].


On 10 September 2022, a group of keen volunteers put their combined energies into the removal of Pultenaea in an area of bush at Marunui Conservation. Also known as Australian bush pea, this weed has been identified by Northland Regional Council as requiring containment and reduction over time.

Pultenaea (Pultenaea daphnoides) is a medium-sized shrub that can grow to three metres tall. Its pea-like flowers are yellow with red-pink markings in the centre, and are followed by flat pods. It’s fast-growing and resistant to drought and frost. One bush can generate hundreds of seedlings and it has the potential to invade gumland, shrubland, open road banks, cliffs and other lower fertility sites. It is capable of causing adverse environmental effects on our native forest.

Organised by Weed Action Piroa-Brynderwyns in conjunction with Marunui Conservation a group of eight, armed with hand forks, secateurs and pruning saws, set off at 9am up the steep slopes of Pa Hill to tackle this invasive pest. Ronny Haynes Weed Action Coordinator and John Hawley of Marunui Conservation led the way.

At Marunui Pultenaea is present in a defined area of manuka shrubland and along the edges of tracks. The volunteers worked as individuals or in pairs, some tackling the larger bushes while others concentrated on smaller plants and seedlings. Rain prior to the weekend had softened the ground sufficiently to enable smaller plants to be pulled out.

Over four hours later the group packed up their tools and made their way back to enjoy a delicious lunch of savouries, cheeses and a large pot of soup provided by Weed Action. John Hawley said, “The lunch was well deserved, we covered a sizeable area and working on some steep slopes was not for the faint hearted. Those helping definitely earned the title of ‘weed warriors’”

The following day a smaller group went out and over the weekend a total of 44 hours were contributed. John said, “We’ve now been doing this work for four years and there will be other opportunities next year. The Northland Regional Council has funded contractors to work in the most difficult areas while we manage the remainder. Marunui is extremely grateful to Weed Action and those who put their hands up to help.”


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