TOSSI – Why protect and restore?

The saddleback with its distinctive glossy black and chestnut saddle. Photo, Alison Stanes.

As volunteers at Tawharanui Open Sanctuary, we are often there with purpose, not just for an unadulterated walk about! So recently, I made time to do just that, and I was reminded of the profound benefit of continuing the work to protect and restore. The native bush comes alive with our native species fearlessly running around and singing their songs unabashed.

Sometimes I have the privilege of helping out with takahē checks. Regular volunteers do this week-in, week-out to keep our two pairs of takahē healthy, strong and monitored. On one of these occasions, after I had successfully located them and visited the feeding stations, I decided to go back out there: through the ecology trail, then Fisherman’s and out to Tokatu Point.

The volunteers at the park get to do a variety of tasks – restoration jobs such as planting and weeding, maintenance work like mending fences and building pathways, and education work with various organisations. In addition, volunteers dedicate many hours supporting Auckland Council staff to keep the park as pest free as possible. We all know why we do it, but at times we might forget to go and just enjoy it – reap the benefits of all the hard work.

That may be why my wanderings were so profound as I followed the track to the ecology trail. I soon came across a few pōpokotea/whiteheads flitting around in a tree. They are a delight to see. A kereru swooped past with that amazing distinct wing beat. Somewhere in the distance a korimako/bellbird sang out. A couple of tui rushed past, chasing each other, showing off in their inimitable style. And then, to my delight, a couple of tieke/saddleback were right there in front of me, and then throughout the rest of my wander I could hear many of them calling in their distinctive “ti-e-ke-ke-ke”, hence their Māori name. The North Island tieke are only found on mainland North Island in five sanctuaries, Tāwharanui being one of those, so it is indeed a privilege to be hearing so many of them in the ecology bush. Then a kaka landed up above my head, nodded a hello and flew off again. Along the Fisherman’s track I literally bumped into the takahē pair rushing along to get their food and, finally, a toutouwai/robin was hopping along the track as I headed out of the bush.

Nature certainly gave me quite a show that day. It’s not always that spectacular, but I always feel blessed to see just one of the aforementioned.

So being predator-free and restoring the native land is a worthwhile goal, restoring the balance and bringing back our native wildlife. There are plenty of volunteer jobs to be had or come along to our Sunday in the Park events, on the first Sunday of the month. You can contact us at if you want more information.