The Taiko Trust is a non-profit conservation organisation based on New Zealand’s remote Chatham Islands. Working alongside ornithologists and the Department of Conservation, local Chatham landowners set up the trust to protect endemic and endangered wildlife on the Island. Since its founding, trust volunteers have overseen the successful reestablishment and transfer of rare seabird colonies like the Taiko, Chatham Albatross, Chatham Petrel, Chatham Tui, as well as the rejuvenation of seabird habitats.
How it was founded
The story of the Taiko Trust begins in the 1970s, well before the organisation’s official inception. The Taiko (magenta petrel) — one of the most unique seabirds known to the world — was thought to be extinct. Not according to ornithologist David Crocket. Working alongside locals Manuel and Evelyn Tuanui, Crocket rediscovered the Taiko in 1978 on Tuanui land — setting conservation efforts in motion. Shortly thereafter Manuel and Evelyn gifted a 1238-hectare block of bush to the Crown, now known as the Tuku Nature Reserve. In 1998, following a decade of planting, predator control and further land donations, the Taiko Trust held its inaugural meeting.
Since the 1970’s the Tuanui family have been actively involved in Chatham conservation efforts. Picking up where Manuel and Evelyn left off, Bruce (Manuel’s son) and wife, Liz Tuanui, continued to promote natural values on the island. Together they established an additional six Conservation Covenants on family land — including a number of protected private reserves. Both are founding members of the Taiko Trust. Today Del and Gigi, co-founders of the Chatham Island Food Co, are the newest generation of Tuanui to take up the cause; Del (Bruce and Liz’s son) is a trustee.
Sweetwater predator-proof enclosure
Sweetwater is the Trust’s development of a predator-proof enclosure that secures the breeding area of the Taiko on the Tuku farm. Since its completion in 2006, some 26 mating pairs have made this enclosure their home, along with nearly half the world’s population of Taiko chicks. Many more of the birds are expected to make the return journey from South America in the coming years.
Chatham Island albatross translocation
For the longest period of time, the world’s only Chatham Albatross breeding colony was on ‘The Pyramid’ — a remote rocky outcrop south of Pitt Island. Recognising the threat posed to the colony by climate events, the Taiko Trust initiated a relocation project in an attempt to secure the species. Since 2014 the trust has shifted some 300 chicks to a protected site on Chatham Island at Point Gap. 14,000 volunteer hours and some 18 tonnes of squid feed later, the albatross chicks have fledged and departed for the sea where they will spend the next 5-7 years.
One of the biggest projects run by the Taiko Trust centres on coastal restoration. To this end, three native tree nurseries have been established, providing volunteers with enough seedlings to hit their 25,000-a-year planting target. As part of the Government’s regional funding program, the Taiko Trust will also be allocated funds to run nine nurseries, complete with an education element for new staff.
How can I make a donation to the Taiko Trust?
You can support this work with a donation directly into the Taiko Trust bank account.
Bank Acct: 01-1192-0015702-00
Particulars: Your last name
Alternatively, you can make a donation to the Taiko Trust directly from their website: