One of our principal projects in the Maungataniwha Native Forest involves increasing the wild-grown population of kakabeak (Clianthus Maximus) - an extremely rare type of shrub.
We collect seeds and propagate them both within our two protected propagation enclosures near Waiau Camp (designed to prevent access by browsing rabbits, hares and ungulates such as deer, pigs and goats) and at other sites around Hawke’s Bay.
Planting of the first kakabeak returned to Maungataniwha took place during the winter of 2010. These seedlings were propagated from seeds we gathered with Department of Conversation (DOC) permission from plants within adjacent Te Urewera.
Our work on restoring viable populations of wild-grown kakabeak is supported by DOC and the iwi at nearby Lake Waikaremoana.
Genetic research by Landcare scientist Gary Houliston has provided clear guidelines for future plantings of kakabeak sourced from wild plants within Hawke’s Bay.
The kakabeak holds New Zealand’s highest possible threatened plant ranking: ‘Nationally Critical’. Before our efforts to re-establish this plant started yielding results there were only 109 plants known to be growing in the wild across the whole of New Zealand. Three of these were located on the Waiau Bluffs within Te Urewera, adjacent to Maungataniwha.
In 1983 botanist Willie Shaw was assessing the Maungataniwha Native Forest as a potential addition to what was then Te Urewera National Park. While conducting fieldwork there he became interested in the dramatic cliff faces situated on the true left of the Waiau River, downstream from the Manganuiohou Stream’s junction with the Waiau River and within Te Urewera.
A search here resulted in the discovery of a single kakabeak plant - at that time the only confirmed record of that species in that catchment of Te Urewera. Subsequent aerial searches to relocate Willie Shaw’s kakabeak were unsuccessful so, in October 2008, Willie and his younger brother Pete – now one of our Trustees - returned to the Waiau Cliffs in an attempt to relocate the plant Willie had found some 25 years previously.
After a short search the original plant was relocated, along with another within six metres. A second search by Pete in November that year located another two plants on the Waiau Cliffs. He also found a specimen of Rubus Squarrosus, a species of ‘bush lawyer’ that is leafless in its juvenile stage, a find that was confirmed later as being a first within Te Urewera.
Following this work our Trustees approved the establishment of a kakabeak restoration project within the Maungataniwha Native Forest, using the plants located in Te Urewera as a source population. A permit to collect seed was approved by the Aniwaniwa Office of the Department of Conservation.