TOSSI – Looking back

The recent Waitangi Day celebrations are a reminder that as a country we are now old enough to have a history worth remembering, and hopefully mature enough to look back at our colonial past with our eyes and minds wide open.TOSSI is fortunate that one of our members, Maggie Cornish, recognised that we too have a history, and that it was a good time to write it down. In 2012 we celebrated our tenth birthday with cake and congratulated ourselves on what had been achieved in the ten years of the organisation’s existence. Maggie’s record of the history of TOSSI covers those first ten years, with a bit of a nod to the future.

Back in the heady days of the Auckland Regional Council, the Tawharanui Regional Park was purchased for $1.1 million, and after a few years of development as a farm park, was first opened to the public on weekends and holidays in 1975. In 1985 it was open fulltime; by 2000 the Council had a plan and resources in place to create a wildlife sanctuary within the existing farm park.

TOSSI was formed in 2002 on the back of a group of volunteers who were already involved in pest control. The first challenge was to raise the funds needed to construct the predator fence. The 2.6km long fence had a cost estimate of $625,000 – a significant sum of money in 2002 – now it’s less than the cost of an average house in Auckland.
Construction of the fence started in June 2003, and was completed fairly quickly. Having completed that first challenge, TOSSI has continued to grow and evolve. The nursery now creates 15-20,000 plants a year for revegetation of the park, we fund-raise to support various translocation projects, such as the takahe, and we continue to work on pest control, which is where it all started, 14 years ago. Without the early leaders of TOSSI, nothing would have been achieved. Maggie’s book recognises these people and she apologises to anyone who has inadvertently been left out.

While we gear up for another year of doing ‘what we do’, we also consider, from time to time, whether we ought to be doing anything else. It seems inevitable that as urban pressure increases, places like Tawharanui will become more important, not least of all as a resource for teaching kids about what life used to be like. TOSSI is already actively involved in various education projects, and we see this as an important adjunct to the core work of planting and pest control.

Many things have changed since TOSSI started in 2002. Who can predict what the next instalment of our history will record.

If anyone is interested in purchasing a copy of the booklet, please email

The next work day will be Sunday March 6, meet 9am at the Woolshed.