This is a reconnaissance survey report about the Manaia Ecological District for the Protected Natural Areas Programme.

This report forms part of a series of reconnaissance survey reports for the Protected Natural Areas Programme (PNAP) in the Northland Conservancy of the Department of Conservation.

It describes the significant natural areas of the Manaia Ecological District (ED). Natural areas within the ED were surveyed by the Department of Conservation from 1997 to 1999, and subsequently by Wildland Consultants in September 2009.

Publication cover showing an aerial view of Bream Head. Photo: courtesy of the Bream Head Conservation Trust. 
Publication cover showing an aerial view
of Bream Head


Manaia is the smallest ecological district in the Northland Region, although its size is very much disproportionate to its rich biodiversity and number of habitat types.

The Ecological District contains several relatively large and semi-contiguous natural areas, including Manaia Ridge Scenic Reserve and Surrounds and Bream Head Scenic Reserve and Surrounds, the latter of which is considered to be the finest example of coastal forest remaining in Northland.

Bream Head Scenic Reserve and Surrounds is of special significance to iwi, as local Māori regard the reserve’s mountain Te Whara as an ancestor and consider the whole area, including the tracks passing through, as wahi tapu. The area from Home Point to Smugglers Bay contains much evidence of Māori occupation, including a defensive pā on Busby Head, many house terraces, food storage pits and numerous middens reflecting the wealth of food resources in Whangarei Harbour. Te Whara and Mt Manaia were once used as urupa or burial grounds.

Local residents take a tremendous amount of pride in the natural assets and biodiversity present in Manaia Ecological District. As such, there has been a groundswell in community-based conservation, such as the many landcare groups coordinated by the Whangarei Heads Landcare Forum (WHLF) and the formation of the Bream Head Conservation Trust (BHCT).

Pest control initiatives, including work carried out as part of the Whangarei Kiwi Sanctuary and Operation Nest Egg, have seen North Island brown kiwi numbers in Manaia ED rise to approximately 300 individuals.

In addition, much work has also been undertaken to control invasive weeds that threaten the natural areas of Northland. 

Manaia Ecological District will continue to be a focus for restoration in the Northland Region. This mandate is being actioned by the Department of Conservation, local authorities, and community groups, each of whom are committed to the vision that has thus far allowed Manaia’s indigenous biodiversity to flourish in a way that is rarely seen on the mainland.

Publication information

Nick Goldwater and Sarah Beadel
Report prepared by Wildland Consultants Ltd for:
Department of Conservation, Northland Conservancy

© Copyright 2010 New Zealand Department of Conservation Te Papa Atawhai

Print ISBN: 978-0-478-14755-1
Web ISBN: 978-0-478-14756-8


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