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Published: 2012-11-21 00:00:00

Thirty pitoitoi (North Island robins) will be translocated to Mt Pirongia early next year in the second phase of a project part-funded by Waikato Regional Council.

The finance and audit committee yesterday approved a grant of $10,036 from the environmental initiatives fund (EIF) for the Pirongia Te Aroaro o Kahu Restoration Society’s project. 

“This group is doing invaluable work in our community,” said committee chairman, Phillip Legg. “Every dollar invested in this type of voluntary work delivers significant environmental gains.” 

The funding covers phase two of the translocation of 30 robins so that the initial population will become self-sustaining. It will also enable the volunteer group to connect electricity to the Pirongia Environmental Activity Centre in the village. 

It is proposed the birds will again be sourced from Mangatutu in Northern Pureora Forest Park, with the help of ecologist, Paul Jansen. 

The birds will be released in the Mangakaraa catchment on the north-eastern face of Pirongia Forest Park, where the first translocation of 29 robins occurred in 2011 with assistance from the EIF. This represents a return to the species’ former range. 

Pirongia Restoration Society’s key objective is to restore the natural ecosystems of Mt Pirongia, including the re-introduction of native species, particularly the kokako.

The group manages eradication of pests, such as possums and rats, using a network of permanent bait stations and pulsed baiting by volunteers. They do vegetation and bird monitoring, as well as taking school and community groups through the bush.