Restoration Project


Motuora is an 80-hectare island in the Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand. The island reserve lies five kilometres east of Mahurangi Heads, north of Auckland. Motuora has a long history of human occupation and was used for pastoral farming through most of the last century. Much of the original coastal forest was cleared long ago leaving only remnant pohutukawa and karo/mahoe scrub growing on coastal cliffs.

Motuora 2000

In 1990 the focus for the island changed and a volunteer-led restoration programme began. Restoration efforts gained momentum in 1995 with the formation of the Motuora Restoration Society (MRS). The Society jointly managed the island with the Department of Conservation (DOC) until 2016. In March of 2016 DOC resumed full management of Motuora but the Motuora Restoration Society continues to manage the restoration of the the island’s flora and fauna. Thus we still need Society members and volunteers to help with canopy tree planting, species translocation and monitoring, weeding and track maintenance.

Until recently the focus of the restoration project was re-establishing native forest cover on the island with about 30,000 native seedlings being raised in the island nursery each year and planted out by volunteers during the winter months. Now some 300,000 trees are in the ground.

Currently canopy trees are being raised in the nursery for yearly planting as the pioneer tree planting on Motuora is complete apart from some minor infill planting where plants have died or been removed by pukeko.

Species Translocation

Motuora 2012

Motuora is special, not just for its secluded picnic spots and clear waters, but for the fact that it has remained free of mammalian predators despite the island’s long history of occupation and farming. There are no rats, mice, mustelids (stoats, ferrets or weasels) or feral cats. This makes Motuora ideal for native ecosystem restoration and for the creation of a safe habitat for endangered species. Since 1999 Motuora has been used as a “kiwi creche“ by Operation Nest-Egg, and over the last ten years popokatea (whiteheads) diving petrels, Pycroft’s petrels, wetapunga, duvaucel  and common Pacific geko and shore skinks have been translocated to Motuora as part of the comprehensive Motuora Native Species Restoration Plan developed jointly by the Motuora Restoration Society and the Department of Conservation. In addition gannets and fluttering shearwaters have been lured by sound and decoys to nest on Motuora.

It is essential that the restoration work continues on Motuora. The Motuora Restoration Society depends on the support of Society Members and volunteers to assist with canopy tree planting and the monitoring of translocated species. So please join the Motuora Restoration Society and/or volunteer to work with our translocation specialists to help our restoration projects.

Female wetapunga about to be released on Motuora

Juvenile gannet flexing wings. Only days away from fledging

Juvenile gannet flexing wings. Only days away from fledging