It’s cold. Slowly, reluctantly, the camp comes to life in the pre-dawn darkness. Wrapped up against the early-morning chill, men start to converge slowly on the central living area. Its facilities are protected from the elements by just a single tarpaulin strung between the two shipping containers now doubling as bunk houses...

So there you are, having a nice long daytime snooze, and along comes a man called Barry who drags you out of bed by your feet. A bit on the rude side, maybe?


His name is Barry Crene and, to be fair to him, rudeness is just not his thing...

He was a typical Kiwi bush-dweller. No nonsense, a bit rough around the edges, unused to attention and certainly not fond of the limelight. His defiant, bright-eyed stare spoke of a hard life lived well. 

It told of constant work and unrelenting routine. A life where every day’s effort was about surviving the next...

Deep in the Bay of Plenty back-blocks 24 youngsters scramble up a forest trail. Breathing heavily after their climb from the valley floor they stop and look around, tilting their heads as if straining to hear something. But the dense vegetation blankets out the outside world, confining their senses and forcing them to focus on their immediate surroundings...

A burst of crimson gave the game away. There, clinging to the cliffs towering above the rushing waters of the Mohaka River deep in the rugged wilderness of inland Hawke’s Bay, was what they’d trekked all day to find...


 

Stomachs churn in unison as the chopper clears the ridge and the ground beneath us falls away to reveal a hillside cleared of the ubiquitous pine trees that seem to march forever through the rugged remoteness of inland Hawke’s Bay...

It’s dead. Very dead, judging by the stench and the smooshed appearance of the remains – all fur, bones and black-brown gloopy stuff. A possum, maybe? A rabbit?


“It’s not just townies,” Simon says, smiling at my obvious disgust...

As he dangled precariously, knocking fist-sized chunks of loose rock into the void, my insides seethed with anxiety. And I started to question the wisdom of what we were doing deep in the back-blocks and, seemingly, a million miles away from any help...

High in the back-country hills a string of six rafters threads its way along a narrow mountain stream, hemmed in by sheer rock worn smooth by the action of a thousand floods. Ferns, vines, grasses and trees close in darkly above the slick papa rock, forcing daylight to retreat to a thin band of grey above...

Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust - Predator control, plant propagation, forest restoration and species recovery are all part of its remit and comprise the bulk of its activity. Flagship projects include the Maungataniwha Kiwi Project, fast carving out a name for itself as one of the most prolific and successful kiwi conservation initiatives.

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