During 1999 the Motu community, made up of shepherds, station managers, teachers, nurses and their families got together to restore one of the last brown kiwi populations on the East Cape; they formed the Whinray Ecological Charitable Trust.
The Trust has developed education resources for visitors and school groups and manages trap lines to control stoats, ferrets, possums, rats and cats. In addition the Trust has created a kiwi chick enclosure on land adjacent to Whinray Scenic Reserve. This area has been formally protected by a QEII National Trust covenant. The enclosure has helped the kiwi population to grow from 8 remaining birds in 1999 to over 35 in 2013.
The Trust also works with the Department of Conservation, Longbush Trust,Ngai Tamanuhiri Iwi and Young Nicks Head Station to restore kiwi and a range of other species in the Tairawhiti Region.
The vision of the Trust is to create a pristine forest habitat to enable a wide range of species to thrive.
Whilst kiwi are the current priority, the Trust also aims to protect and enhance all of the area’s threatened species and educate people about nature conservation. The long term goal is to re-introduce other endangered species such as saddleback, East Coast Kakabeak, tuatara and Wood Rose to the area.
Plans are underway for a Conservation Centre and wetland next door to the kiwi crèche. The centre will provide a valuable education resource for Gisborne, East Coast and Bay of Plenty Schools. It will provide information about kiwi and other conservation work in the area and promote the work of the Whinray Trust. The centre will also work to market local businesses and tourism opportunities in the Motu and Gisborne area and has the potential to become an additional attraction for the ‘Motu Cycle Trail’ visitors.