Our kaupapa is rooted in the Trust’s goals to preserve and enhance native forests so that their inhabitants can flourish. Since inception Ngā Manu has partnered with DOC and others in many breed-for-release programmes which seek to re-establish at risk species of birds and reptiles into the wild. This has seen us participate in breeding programmes for kiwi, whio, pateke/brown teal, kāka, orange-fronted, red-crowned, yellow-crowned and Antipodes Island parakeet, tuatara, and Whitaker’s skinks to name a few. In addition to these programmes Ngā Manu has a long history of involvement in the treatment and rehabilitation of native bird species which are brought to us by the local community. Our aim is to release as many birds as possible back into the wild. We are also deeply committed to the health of the lowland swamp forest remnant which prompted the original Trustees to take an interest in the site. One way we do this is through our volunteer-led programme of pest control. This effort is increasingly important as Ngā Manu becomes an isolated oasis in a changing landscape. We consider the most important first step of any successful conservation to be strengthening the connection between people and the natural world. The Reserve is a regular destination for school groups of all ages. Staff and volunteers introduce and/or guide our visitors into deeper connections with the natural world through regular tours and special presentations. We utilise our functions space Robins Nest as a classroom when needed. Over the years many researchers have based their studies at Ngā Manu. These have involved both our captive holdings and aspects of the Reserve at large. We support the research through grants offered through Victoria University and Massey Palmerston North, as well as offering Theo’s Cottage as on-site accommodation to researchers.
In late 1977, the Trustees heard of a block of land for sale in Waikanae that sounded like it had all the characteristics that the Peter and the other trustees sought: a water body (stream, lake, pond or swamp); some remnant native vegetation; an environment that had the potential for improvement through management and development; and accessibility to visitors. On their visit to the site for sale, the group climbed to the top of a small hill to survey the surroundings. There, laid out in front of them, was a small valley encompassing a wetland surrounded with bush. Peter remarked to John Salmon that if they could not get the block that was for sale, this block would be a perfect site for the reserve.
Slowly Peter McKenzie’s vision took shape. The Trust developed the Reserve, creating wetlands, planting many indigenous trees and shrubs, building aviaries and animal enclosures to house numerous native birds and lizards, including the ancient tuatara. The project was joined by eminent botanist John Dawson and geologist and naturalist Charles Fleming (later to become Sir Charles Fleming). The Arboretum was planted and battles commenced against an army of introduced pests, including starlings, rabbits, rats and possums. Scaup and grey teal were introduced and in 1981 an Information Centre was built.
This short history was edited from the Ngā Manu History Project blog, written by Dr Catherine Knight, who was previously a Ngā Manu Trustee (Dec 2010 to July 2017).
The objectives of the Trust are the preservation and conservation of New Zealand native flora and fauna, and strengthening the connection between people and nature through education.
The Ngā Manu Trust was formed in 1974 when an opportunity arose to purchase a 14-hectare site being the largest coastal lowland swamp forest remaining on the Kāpiti Coast, perfect for delivering the objectives of the Trust. This is now known as the Ngā Manu Nature Reserve. Education and research are a major part of the Trust activities along with involvement in native species recovery programmes.
The Board comprises of the following Trustees:
Patricia Stuart (Chair)
Christine Brabender (Advisory Trustee)
Morag Taimalietane (Advisory Trustee)
Ruth McKenzie (Advisory Trustee)
Ngā Manu Images is a vast collection of nature images captured by Ngā Manu founders Peter McKenzie and David Mudge. Both men pioneered new techniques such as time-lapse photography. They trained their observations on drama such as nest predation, the pollination of Dactylanthus by bats, and extraordinary closeups of birds feeding. Many of the events had never been captured before and added to our understanding of complex biological relationships. Many of the images stand on the merits of their beauty alone. Both men took the view that the images should be freely available for non-commercial purposes, and especially for school students. The images featured on our website are only a small portion of what is available upon request.