Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Tiritiri Matangi Island
Tiritiri Matangi Island lies in the Hauraki Gulf of New Zealand, 4 km east of Whangaparaoa Peninsula on the North Island and 30 km north east of Auckland. The 2.2 km² island is now a nature reserve, noted for its bird life including the kiwi and the takahe. The name, meaning "tossed by the wind" in the Maori language, is often popularly shortened to Tiritiri or just Tiri.
The first people to settle on Tiritiri Matangi were Maori of the Kawerau iwi. Later, members of the Ngati Porou moved to Tiritiri Matangi until about 1700, when the Kawerau regained control of the island and remained until forced to retreat to Waikato in 1821 when Hongi Hika attacked from the north.
European settlers (Pakeha) arrived in the early 1800s. When the Kawerau returned, friction ensued as both peoples had a claim to the island. In 1867 the Maori Land Court granted title to the government.
It was hoped that native forest would naturally regenerate, making the island a suitable habitat for native bird life as it lacked some of the introduced predators such as mustelids which are present on the New Zealand mainland. However, afforestation seemed to be happening very slowly and a large number of volunteers were recruited to plant saplings and sow tree seeds. Over 280,000 native trees and shrubs were planted in the revegetation project from 1984 to 1994.
The next intervention was eradication of the Polynesian rat, known by Maori as kiore, which was destroying seedlings and competing with birds for food. Kiore were killed with poisoned bait, a decision which was extremely controversial.
Seventy-eight species of bird have been observed on or near the island. Endangered species introduced or reintroduced to the island include the Little Spotted Kiwi , Takahe, Saddleback, Kokako, Stitchbird and Brown Teal. In 2003 tuatara, a reptile, was also reintroduced.
A passenger ferry service runs from Auckland and guided tours are available on the island. It is a popular destination for daytrippers, attracting some 20,000 visitors annually, and visitors enjoy an intensity of birdsong rarely heard on the mainland.
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