Taonga Back From The Brink

Sept. 24, 2019, 3:26 p.m.

A rare taonga that was once at the brink of extinction is slowly making a comeback.

Kaikōmako Manawatāwhi, an endemic species to Three Kings Islands was once listed as the world’s rarest tree after the last remaining wild tree, a female, was discovered on Manawatāwhi in 1945.

A cutting taken at the time of this discovery was grown at the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) and forty years later, a test of applying plant hormones to the trees flower resulted in the production of healthy seeds. 

2019 saw the return of 140 saplings to Ngāti Kuri whose rohe includes the Three Kings Islands, to be planted on mainland Aotearoa throughout Ngāti Kuri as well as establishing the colony back on its original homeland - Manawatāwhi.

Sheridan Waitai said the return of these taonga had been a long-time-coming and was a culmination of many peoples hard-work coming to fruition.

“There are many people that fought for the return of our taonga. Some of these plants will be planted at our urupa as a symbolic reminder of that intergenerational message - ka whawhai tonu matou”, said Waitai.

In June, young saplings were planted around Ngātaki and Aupōuri Peninsula enabling descendants of the original tree, still regarded as one of the world’s rarest, to be returned to Ngāti Kuri rohe.

Tags: conservation

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