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HealthPost Nature Trust

Another Successful Translocation

It’s been nearly two years since we last visited HeathPost Nature Trust's efforts to regenerate nature and restore biodiversity at Onetahua (Farewell Spit) and Wharariki, the northernmost tip of the South Island. Since then, they have increased revegetation and pest control efforts, extensively planting and fencing off the Wharariki Wetland, focusing their energy on preparing for reintroductions and the protection of native species.

The pakahā (fluttering shearwater), toanui (flesh-footed shearwater), and pāteke (brown teal) are a few birds that have been a focus for the trust, including the protection of threatened species like the Nelson Green Gecko. On January 13th this year, 92 pakahā chicks were successfully translocated from Kokomohua Marine Reserve in the Marlborough Sounds to the Wharariki Ecosanctuary – the largest translocation they’ve done and twice the number of chicks from previous years. Lucy Butler, values lead of HealthPost and a trustee of HealthPost Nature Trust, emphasised that it was the result of skilled and dedicated volunteers working in partnership with the iwi group, Manawhenua ki Mohua, and the Department of Conservation.

“This is the third and possibly final translocation of pakahā into the Wharariki Ecosanctuary, so we are now well on our way to achieving our vision of a mainland breeding colony at Cape Farewell. All birds in previous years have fledged successfully, and this year’s chicks are faring well to date. The hope is that, from later this year, the birds will begin returning to burrows at the Ecosanctuary, and that ultimately, we will see the birds returning to the cliffs here in their thousands at dusk, as they would have once,” Lucy said.

The trust plans to stay focused on their designated project areas, Onetahua and Wharariki, as it’s a biodiversity hotspot, with a lot to protect and regenerate. There are currently 50 individuals that are involved in the trust’s projects on a regular basis, giving their time and knowledge from the planning phases to planting trees and monitoring pest traps.

“We have some exciting plans in progress for 2024, including new research projects and more species reintroductions, but right now it’s all hands-on deck for the pakahā. Our tireless HealthPost Nature Trust volunteers put in hundreds of hours at the Ecosanctuary to make sure the 92 chicks fledge and head out to sea successfully. This includes being out at the remote (and windy) Cape Farewell early in the morning, whipping up pilchard smoothies to hand-feed the chicks. When the weather closes in, we have a ‘burrow manager’ working in the rain for as long as it takes to make sure the fluffy chicks stay dry as they are being fed and checked. Translocating these taonga (treasure) is a huge responsibility, and we take it seriously,” Lucy highlighted.

Since the founding of the trust in 2017, Lucy has been amazed by the momentum that the project has gathered. So many individuals and groups from all different walks of life have decided to come on board and help in one way or another. “I take every opportunity to encourage other businesses and landholders who may not know where to start, telling them don’t be shy, kick something off, and trust that there is so much energy in our communities right now for change. You won’t be doing it on your own,” she said.

HealthPost, as a business, has a vision of providing a lasting, positive impact on people and the environment, and the birth of HealthPost Nature Trust was an extension of this, being able to deliver what was important to them and the community. “HealthPost exists to help make mindful, healthy choices easier for people, so we champion rigorous ingredient standards, supply chain transparency, and environmental accountability in our industry and in the products we sell. The Nature Trust’s mahi (work) feels very aligned with our business, our team, and our customers. We’re proud to be taking an active role in regenerating nature in our corner of the world and hope we’re helping to demonstrate that businesses of all sizes have a role to play.”

“We’re mindful of using natural and non-toxic approaches wherever possible, and our project partners understand this is a priority for us. We clear around plantings manually rather than using sprays, and we bait traps with rabbit pellets rather than poison, for example. We use coconut fibre plant protectors and wood and stainless steel for our fencing. We are currently extending our inner fence – the sanctuary within the larger Wharariki Ecosanctuary that was created for the pakahā – using a combination of Goldpine posts and stainless-steel mesh, in anticipation of the thriving colony in years to come,” Lucy added.

When describing a perfect New Zealand, Lucy mentioned that a move towards a community-based model for regenerating our natural environment was the best way forward. “There is such a sense of connection that comes from working alongside each other in the service of nature. It feels like everyone wins,” she added.

The HealthPost Nature Trust was formed in 2017 in partnership with HealthPost, New Zealand’s leading responsible natural health retailer, the Department of Conservation and Manawhenua ki Mohua.