Rotoehu Ecological Trust (RET) first became a concept in 2011, before officially becoming a registered charitable trust (CC49846) in 2013. We operate primarily in Pongakawa Ecological Area (650 ha), which forms part of the wider Rotoehu Forest Conservation Area(some 3,500 ha). In 2015 we added the Otari Block to our management area, bringing the total managed area up to 750 ha. The Trust manages the land in partnership with the Department of Conservation, and in particular looks after a Category One site (one of five in New Zealand) of North Island Kōkako with a population of around 150 birds that is present in the forest. The kōkako are our keystone species and RET works on the theory that if we protect this endangered species then the whole ecosystem will benefit, particularly from pest control.
In addition to working with the local Department of Conservation office in Rotorua, RET has also formed valuable relationships with other local and national conservation groups and entities including Kōkako Specialist Group, Kaharoa Kōkako Trust, Otanewanuku Kiwi Trust, Manawahe Kōkako Trust, Kōkako Organic Coffee, Old Forest School, Little Miss Rose Photography, Kaingaroa Timberlands, Ngati Makino, Te Puke Forest and Bird and Western Bay of Plenty District Council.
Rotoehu Forest is located some 30 minutes from Rotorua and Tauranga, on Rotoehu Road. In addition to the kōkako population, the forest is also home to whitehead, the New Zealand Bush Falcon, grey warblers, tomtits, geckos, and giant rewarewa, rimu and pururi trees. The Trust protects these native assets by carrying out weed and animal pest control including for possums, rats, mice, mustelids, hedgehogs, wild/feral cats, wallabies, blackberry, pampas and wilding pines.
Rotoehu Ecological Trust currently consists of the following members:
Chairperson – Sarah Orton
Treasurer – Jane Bird
Secretary – Margaret Dick
Trustees – Roger Bawden, Cheryl Hindle and Chris Bycroft
Other key personal
Kōkako Organic Coffee – Mike Murphy, Olivia Coote and team
Timberlands Limited – Colin Maunder
Western Bay of Plenty District Council – Glenn Ayo
Old Forest School – Su-an, Alastair and Holly McMahon
Little Miss Rose Photography – Rose McMahon
Ngati Makino Heritage Trust – Pia Bennett
DOC Staff – Erin Patterson, Ron Keyzer, Caraline Abbot and Sarah Wills
Volunteers – Cindy Hill-Rennie, Kevin and Lyn Holland, Graeme Young, Jody Richardson, Damien Selier, Ross Mowbry, Amanda Hunt, Ross and Dell Bawden, Heather and Peter Orton.