Four new information panels were recently unveiled at Kapiti Island Nature Reserve to highlight the history and ongoing conservation work occurring on the island. The US Embassy supported DOC with the installation of these panels as part of the centennial celebrations of the US National Park Service.
The four new panels were unveiled at a ceremony on Wednesday 20 April. The panels touch on the island’s whaling history, the Historic Whare building and the current hihi/stitchbird conservation work.
The event was opened with a karakia from Hohepa Potini of Ngati Toa at the historic Whare, blessing the new signs and acknowledging the support of the US Embassy. Kapiti Island’s Whare is the oldest building in New Zealand associated with nature conservation.
Representatives from the US Embassy, local iwi and students from Victoria University, spent the day with DOC staff learning about the history of the island as they visited each newly installed informational panel. The participants even marched up the Wilkinson track to visit the hihi.
Kapiti Island ranger and hihi expert Nick Fisentzidis hikes up the hill regularly to top up the sugar water in the supplemental feeders. As the smallest of the nectar feeding species on the island, the hihi are often outcompeted by the larger birds so these feeders ensure that there is enough food available for them.
Once down the hill, the participants shared stories over lunch. Te Atiawa representative Queenie Rikihana told the story of Kahe Te Rau-o-te-rangi who swam from Kapiti Island to Te Uruhi on the mainland with a child, Makere, strapped to her back to raise the alarm when Ngati Toa were about to be attacked by a war party. Queenie shared several other stories that had been passed down to her from her ancestors and encouraged others to share these stories so they wouldn’t be forgotten.
Kapiti Island has been predator-free since 1988 and is one of New Zealand’s most important island sanctuaries, as it is home to many native species. The island also has a rich history and these new signs are a step towards sharing more Kapiti Island stories with visitors.
100 years of the US National Park Service
The US Embassy and DOC are partnering together in a number of events to promote New Zealand’s national parks, build conservation and engage people in natural areas. These events also coincide with the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the US National Park Service. There are a number of exciting events planned throughout the year.