Satellites Assist in Moturata Restoration


A 20 year long environmental restoration project on Moturata Island 45km south of Dunedin, has not only seen the regeneration of rata trees, but also exposed the importance of modern technology in community restoration projects.

In the initial phases of the project, simple tree spades and helicopter transport were used, which was extremely innovative at the time. The final phase has seen a Global Positioning System used to track and monitor the trees progress.

In support, Project Crimson provided 50 rata trees to assist with the project through the 2010 annual funding round.

The Project Crimson Trust, supported by Meridian Energy, has itself spent the last 20 years supporting community groups across New Zealand to protect and regenerate both rata and pohutakawa in their natural growing ranges- two native species that were in decline in 1990.

Martin Palmer has been the Moturata Taieri whanau’s instigator and driver on the project, but has recently passed guardianship onto them.

The whanau have since been devoted to re-establish Moturata to its former glory with the red bloom of the native flowering, after the trees were gradually being removed for fuel or destroyed by fire.

Moturata Taieri whanau spokesperson Robyn Ashton admitted that the project has proved to be “somewhat of a challenge”, but has been thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding.

“Plenty of heart, sweat and thought has been put into this project by the whanau, we are proud with what we have achieved together and are very grateful for the trees we have been donated by Project Crimson” she said.

Innovative technology has proved to be valuable in the final chapter of the project, with the Global Positioning System using communication satellites to record the exact location of each tree.

Sheer drive and commitment has been shown by the whanau on the project, “we have a spiritual connection with Moturata and have embraced our role as Kaitiaki of Moturata and its wildlife with passion” she said.

The Moturata Taieri Whanau and local community will maintain an oversight on the project and hope that in 20 years from now the once barren island will be thriving with native bloom.