Our History

Photo by Alastair Jamieson

The concept for Ark in the Park started with a member of Forest and Bird’s Waitākere Branch in early 1999. It was supported soon afterwards by the Branch committee.

The Waitākere Ranges Protection Society was invited to be involved and a steering committee was set up in May of 1999. This aimed to further the concept of an “open sanctuary” where, with increased predator control and targeted weed control, the ecology of the Waitākere Ranges would be restored and species that had been lost reintroduced to the ecosystem. The concept of the “Ark in the Park” within regional parkland was developed, in collaboration with the former Auckland Regional Council and others.

Fourteen potential sites around the Ranges were evaluated and three were short-listed. The site at Cascades Kauri Park was selected in 2000 as the priority site for restoration for several reasons. It featured an intact forest remnant, was already home to iconic species such as the Hochstetter’s frog and long-tailed bat (pekapeka), plus a diverse range of ecosystems and good access via tracks and roads. Good access made it both feasible and practical to carry out regular predator control. This was critical to the project’s success, as ,it was hoped the resulting low predator numbers would allow for the successful reintroduction of species.

Predator control began in 2002 with a network of bait stations in the ‘P block’, an area of 102 hectares immediately northwest of our maunga, Pukematekeo.

In 2017, we celebrated our 15th birthday.

Milestones

1999

The concept of Ark in the Park was conceived.

2000

Cascade Kauri Park was chosen as the preferred location for Ark in the Park, out of 14 candidates.

2002

Volunteers from Forest & Bird began animal pest control on a 250 hectare zone around Pukematekeo Mountain.

2004

The total area with pest control was expanded to cover 600 hectares of the Waitākere River catchment, downstream of the Waitākere reservoir.

First translocation of whiteheads/pōpokatea.

2005

In April, the Ark completes its first translocation of North Island robins/toutouwai.

In July, results of rat monitoring are below 5% for the first time, which is good news for native species in the Park.

2006

Weekly volunteer sessions are established.

2007

First translocation of hihi.

2008

The total area with pest control is expanded to around 1,100 hectares.

2009

In September, the Ark completes its first translocation of kōkako.

2010

The total area with pest control is expanded to cover 1,800 hectares.

In December, the first known kōkako chick hatches in the Waitākere Ranges since kōkako were reintroduced.

2011

The total area with pest control is expanded to cover 1,900 hectares.

In May, a second weekly volunteer session is added on Thursdays.

2012

The total area with pest control is expanded to cover 2,100 hectares.

2015

The number of stoats caught reaches 1,000.

2017

The total area with pest contol is expanded to cover 2270 hectares.

The Waitākere Ranges are closed due to the threat of kauri dieback disease. Ark operations continue after the development of more intensive Standard Operating Procedures to prevent further spread.

2018

First use of multiple toxin baits as alternatives to brodifacoum for pest control.

Ark in the Park is located in the Waitākere Ranges, which are currently closed to minimise the spread of kauri dieback disease.