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December 2004, Volume 15, Number 11

Regional Economic Driver

Wairarapa aims to make its Pukaha Mount Bruce forest into a national and international icon...

“That’s where we’re heading,” says Masterton Mayor Bob Francis.

And with $558,000 recently raised in the Pukaha Mount Bruce Community Challenge, the goal is well on the way to being achieved.

Support from the community and local and national sponsors “has been superb”, says National Wildlife Centre Trust chairman John Bunny.

Community Employment Group fieldworker Mike Grace says the challenge was a “massive community awareness programme aiming to build support for a major economic driver for our region.

“It forged a broad range of new partnerships, including with corporates and schools, as well as raising close to $600,000.”

The five-month long challenge, which culminated in a telethon (pictured), will enable the Pukaha Mount Bruce restoration project to follow its planned development for the next five years.
The project has involved intensive pest control in the 942 hectare Mount Bruce Scenic Reserve and 2700 hectares of private land surrounding the forest (a buffer zone). This has enabled the return of kiwi and kokako to the area.

“These birds are now starting to breed in the area for the first time in more than 100 and 60 years respectively,” says Bob.

Walkways and a treetop path are planned, but Bob says that ensuring the bush and wildlife are not compromised is paramount.

Close to 300 people participated in the 12-hour telethon, the climax of which saw local businesses, service clubs, community groups and schools challenging others in the community to match and beat their fundraising efforts.

“We’re absolutely thrilled with the level of support shown by the major sponsors and the community who have really embraced this fundraiser,” says Bob.

“It has lifted the profile of Pukaha Mount Bruce -- motivating and informing the community of what we have out there.”

Department of Conservation Wairarapa area manager Derrick Field says the vision of returning the forest to what it was before the early settlers arrived is closer to being realised as a result.

CONTACT
Glenys Hansen
Secretary
National Wildlife Centre Trust
Phone (06) 377 0700
email: ghansen@contact.net.nz

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