Dole invests in Motutapu island which is now re-opening following storm damage

New Zealand’s ‘secret’ island dedicated to conservation overcomes weather damage with support from new investor Dole

Motutapu Island has suffered significant damage to its conservation projects following recent storms. Planting programme is in the process of re-opening thanks to support of Motutapu Restoration Trust (MRT) volunteers, the Department of Conservation(DOC) and new sponsor Dole.

Tucked away behind Auckland landmark Rangitoto, 1509 hectare Motutapu is the site of one of New Zealand's largest ecological restoration projects. The island’s 100 hectares of native forest, planted by Motutapu Restoration Trust volunteers over the last twenty four years, is home to growing populations of some of the country’s rarest native species.

Now support from global fruit provider, Dole, will allow the Motutapu Restoration Trust to further develop habitats to achieve its long-term goal of creating sustainable populations oftakahē, Coromandel brown kiwi, tieke (saddlebacks) and other threatened species. These threatened native birds are able to breed safely on Motutapu because DOC removed pests – including stoats, rats and possums - from Motutapu and Rangitoto.

Storm damage

Dole’s investment in the MRT’s conservation work on Motutapu comes at an opportune time, after the recent destructive storms triggered major slips on the island.

Due to severe damage to roads and other infrastructure, DOC closed Motutapu to the public, to keep them safe. DOC is working hard to enable MRT volunteers to have safe access to areas on the island where it's safe for them to continue their planting programme.

The storm damage dealt a significant blow to the MRT’s conservation work on Motutapu. But with the support of DOC and Dole, the Trust’s volunteers are finally in the process of getting the 2017 planting programme underway after a late start.

Brett Butland, chair of Motutapu Restoration Trust, says the contribution of sponsorships such as Dole are crucial to the Trust’s operations. “The volunteer army effort must be supported by having the right equipment, site preparation and transport,” he says.

The nursery, for example, is 6km from the planting site, so everything must be trucked over in readiness for a planting day.

“The Trust greatly appreciates the sponsorship of Dole as it means we can spend funds on the issues of greatest importance for the restoration of the island – such as when the nursery irrigation system breaks down. As a charitable trust, all such funds are invested into the island.”

Restoration of the island

The Motutapu Restoration Trust (MRT) was established in 1994 as a way for the community and private sector to contribute to the restoration of Motutapu’s natural and cultural landscape.

The MRT maintains a database of more than 4,000 volunteers and supporters. Volunteers established a nursery on the island, where they grow approximately 15,000 native seedlings a year, and have now planted almost half a million. Controlling weeds, that threaten the emerging native forest, is another vital element of the Trust’s work.

Photo: Kamilla Camilo (Dole), Bridget Winstone (Motutapu Volunteer), Liz Brooks (General Manager Motutapu), Steve Barton (Dole).

Support from Dole

Dole’s support and investment in Motutapu reflects the company’s commitment to conservation and sustainability in New Zealand.

Dole Food Company, Inc is the world’s largest producer of fruit and vegetables. The company’s history goes back to the nineteenth century, whenfounder James Dole, made the pledge, “We have built this company on quality, and quality, and quality.” It’s a pledge that has been honoured since day one.

If we fast forward to the present day, Dole New Zealand operates as a subsidiary of Dole Asia Holding Pte. The Fresh Division and Dole Worldwide Packaged Division are now part of the Itochu Company of Japan.

James Dole’s original commitment to quality is still central to everything the company does. This commitment is reinforced by ITOCHU’s mission of good for the community, demonstrated locally in the Hauraki Gulf with Dole’s focus on supporting Motutapu Island and its conservation and restoration.

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