Nga Uru Ora is Dr John Craig and Dr Anne Stewart’s private ecological restoration site at Pataua North, a small coastal settlement east of Whangarei. The site was originally a small part of a 280 ha run-down cattle farm that runs from the foredunes of Pataua North to the hill country skyline. The existing 9 ha of forest on their 32 ha property was totally eaten out and full of possums. The 23 ha of pasture were heavily grazed and there was no standing water. The flats had deep drains. Most of the 32 ha was fenced in 2004 to keep stock out.
John & Anne have a long history in conservation and restoration. Anne was a former conservation scientist with the Department of Conservation and also worked as a scientist in horticulture. John was an ecology academic (Professor, University of Auckland) who initiated the restoration of Tiritiri Matangi Island and other public areas. They took over the management of the full 280 ha cattle farm and for eleven years from 2004 led the conversion of the property into a wildlife refuge. They developed their 32ha as part of the larger restoration and focussed solely on that area in 2016.
Planting areas as well as restoring and creating wetlands began in 2004 as did possum and predator control. The outcome has been spectacular and the area now boasts a large bird list including 23 species with some form of threat or at risk designation.
John & Anne built a house in 2013 on what had once been a bare paddock. Their house is fully self-contained with solar electricity. They have put in six ponds, the largest being over 1.2ha in size. Every year pateke or brown teal raise young in the ponds near their house. They also see bittern, fernbird, tui, kukupa, fantail, silvereye, grey warbler, all the duck species except blue duck, all the shag species, black swan and dabchicks. They have planted over 100,000 trees, shrubs and flax and this year’s planting of 3,000 native trees provided by Trees That Count fills the gap between one of the large plantings and the old forest which after 11 years has a thick understorey. The planting will form an important corridor between habitats.