Tuateawa is situated in a spectacular and special environment. It lies on a section of eastern Coromandel coastline featuring boulder and sandy beaches, rocky headlands, high cliffs and small offshore islands. The Kuoutunu Peninsula to the east, and the sanctuary islands of the Mercury Group and Cuvier Island further north provide an inspiring backdrop. Looking inland native forest extends in places from the sea to the high ridges. Some of the best examples of coastal kauri-podocarp-hardwood forest to remain in the northern North Island are to be found here. The small streams that flow down to the coast provide habitat for a variety of native species including tuna (eels), koura (freshwater crayfish) and kokopu and koaro (so-called “native trout”). The birdlife of course, cannot be overlooked. In the summer it is difficult to sleep-in because of the dawn chorus of korimako (bellbird), tui, kereru (NZ pigeon) and kaka. A stroll in the forest will reveal a surprising array of birds, many of which are rarely seen in these numbers elsewhere on the mainland. Tuateawa continues to be a haven for the endangered Coromandel brown kiwi which was recently confirmed as a separate type.
And people live here too. There is a long Maori history in this area preceding European settlement. The local Hapu is Ngati Raukatauri a Huarere, and the local whanau (Hovell descendants) Raukatauri ki Tuateawa. Tuateawa residents and Habitat Tuateawa members
are keen to learn more, to acknowledge manawhenua and to incorporate tikanga in our activities. There is a fascinating history post- European settlement also, including gold mining, kauri logging, farming and quarrying, and
fishing around the coast.
The Tuateawa subdivision is nestled beside the coast in a complex of regenerating forest and retired farmland. It is bordered on three sides by tall native forest featuring columnar kauri, majestic rata and, on lower slopes, pohutukawa. A diverse canopy of coastal hardwoods includes puriri and kohekohe, and podocarps such as rimu and matai. The understorey is dense with a profusion of other trees climbing towards the sky. A mix of permanent residents and part-time bach owners appreciate the distinctive natural environment of this area. More and more people are “discovering” what Tuateawa offers as an idyllic sanctuary, and a caring
Recognising that Tuateawa is an important wildlife haven, as well as a great place to live, residents set up the ‘Tuateawa Kiwi Care group nearly 20 years ago. Its aim was to protect the kiwi population by controlling critical pests. This group then became ‘Habitat Tuateawa’, with a focus on restoring bird populations more generally, as well as kiwis. Local residents take responsibility for assigned bait or trap lines which ensure that possums, rats and stoats are effectively controlled so that birds can safely breed. These efforts have been wonderfully successful. Habitat Tuateawa volunteers also undertake quarterly bird counts to gain some impression of the response in native bird populations to our pest control. There would be few places anywhere on the New Zealand mainland where native birds are so numerous and where people can so easily interact with them. Habitat Tuateawa members are justifiably proud of their achievements.
While most people would say that having more birds is the greatest benefit from Habitat Tuateawa’s activities, many would also observe that they just enjoy being involved. Habitat Tuateawa has become a focus for community get-togethers, and provides a wonderful opportunity for people to make friends and to become part of the community. People with a variety of interests, and from all walks of life, have become members and attend Habitat Tuateawa meetings, as well as the very popular New Year’s barbeque. Education and training days are well attended. A core of voluntary “baiters, trappers and monitors” derive great satisfaction from contributing to pest control regimes.
Residents and visitors alike are most welcome to join Habitat Tuateawa. Feel free to talk to any committee member, or email our Chair, Sue Saunders at firstname.lastname@example.org.