Isolation, dedication and community support are helping one of New Zealand's icon shore birds on Bay of Plenty's Matakana Island.
Matakana Island has become the home of an excellent dotterel breeding programme due to its innovative community approach. Initially set up in 1992, it has resulted in over 300 successfully fledged chicks over that time. It has developed in such a way that the community on Matakana now takes a positive active role in the programme ensuring its success.
The NZ dotterel's protection status is acutely critical, which reflects the pressures and threats facing this species.
Matakana Island is one of New Zealand's top breeding sites for these small shorebirds and the relative isolation of the island's beaches is a vital element in favour of successful breeding.
Numerous cats, stoats, rats and possums which impact on the nesting birds and their eggs, have been trapped on the island.
The birds do try to nest all along the Bay of Plenty coastline, from Waihi Beach to Papamoa, Maketu, Pukehina and further along the East Coast, but because the eggs and chicks are so well camouflaged they are extremely vulnerable to disturbance. That is where the community can help by watching out for the nesting area signs and leaving the birds in peace.
Local businesses also play a vital role in the success of the programme including:
- Port of Tauranga
- Blakely Pacific Ltd
- Te Kotukutuku Corporation
- Forest Lady Barge
- Sanford Fisheries Limited
- Tauranga Barge Company
The Port of Tauranga has sponsored a vehicle for the NZ Dotterel Project on Matakana Island since the mid-1990s. This vehicle is used on the island during breeding season by monitoring and pest control staff.
Each year brings new challenges and hopes for a successful breeding season.
When walking on the beaches you can play your part in not disturbing any nests by keeping below the high tide mark, keeping dogs on leashes and ensuring vehicles are not taken onto the beaches.
For more information on the Matakana Island dotterel project contact:
Ranger, Services (Biodiversity)
New Zealand dotterel