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Miramar Peninsula thrives thanks to its dedicated community

Miramar Peninsula was once a treasured island off the mainland of Wellington, filled with native forest. More recently, the area has been ecologically depleted and overrun by introduced predators, but together with help from Wellington Airport and Trees That Count, a local group is well on their way to restoring the peninsula’s former glory.

Miramar Peninsula has one of the most iconic views in Wellington. As part of the mouth of Te Ika-a-Māui - the mythical fish that became the North Island - the land curves out into the harbour and signals the entrance to Wellington, especially for planes coming in to land.

But the peninsula's rich history, destruction and subsequent regrowth are little known to most Wellingtonians. The explorer Kupe landed in Miramar when he first discovered Aotearoa. His descendants settled on the peninsula, and its original name is Te Motu Kairangi, meaning ‘precious island’.

The land was ultimately turned into a township with trams linking it to central Wellington. Ecologically, this once precious place was depleted. In 1928 all the remaining sand dunes were levelled. Streams were piped and the last of the wetlands disappeared in the 1970s. By 2002 the peninsula was heavily infested with possums and bereft of bird life.

But a local group and their supporters are changing all that. Miramar residents have organised into a group fittingly called Te Motu Kairangi - Miramar Ecological Restoration, headed by award-winning conservationist Joakim Liman. They have big visions and a simple goal: to restore ecological health to the Miramar Peninsula.

Nearby Wellington Airport recently partnered with Trees That Count to fund 2,000 native trees to help mitigate the Airport’s 2,000 tonnes of carbon emissions for 2018. The match was perfect so Trees That Count passed the trees on to Te Motu Kairangi for planting. Airport staff even helped get the trees in the ground with a staff planting day, followed by a big public muck-in event that saw all the trees planted.

Thanks to their work, thousands of eco-sourced native plants are now flourishing around the peninsula, including many species that were locally extinct.

The group has worked tirelessly toward predator elimination, which has been so successful that Miramar Peninsula is now on track to become the first area to be rid of remaining mammalian predators, in line with the goals of Predator Free Wellington.

With all that the peninsula now has going for it, it’s no surprise it’s become hot property for some recently returned locals, with little blue penguins/kororā starting to move back to the south coast.

These welcome neighbours are a sign of well-earned success and good things to come with native birds feeling safe to return home. Once more, Miramar Peninsula is in good hands.


About the author

Trees That Count aims to create a national movement to plant millions of native trees to mitigate climate change. We're managed by the Project Crimson Trust in partnership with the Tindall Foundation.

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