Taiea te Taiao, Maungatautari to Pirongia Ecological Corridor Project

Name of case study

 Taiea te Taiao, Maungatautari to Pirongia Ecological Corridor Project


  • Maungatautari to Pirongia te aroaro o Kahu
  • Waipā District
  • Aotearoa New Zealand




urban/landscape scale

Area / size

approximately 41km of corridor between Maungatautari and Pirongia mountain

NbS employed

 Stepping-stone Habitats

Type of NbS

  Ecosystem restoration


New Zealand Landcare


Freshwater Initiatives Fund administered by the Ministry for the Environment, Waikato River Authority, Waikato Regional Council, Department of Conservation Jobs for Nature, Waikato Catchment Ecological Enhancement Trust, Predator Free New Zealand, and Fonterra.



Design group

Collaboration of Pirongia Te Aroaro o Kahu Restoration Society, Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust, Maungatautari to Pirongia Ecological Corridor Incorporated Society, Ngāti Korokī Kahukura Trust, Purekireki Marae, Waikato Regional Council, Waipā District Council, and Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Apakura.

Waipā District Council (2023), Ecological Stepping Stones and Corridor. Retrieved from https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/628cd9d5e4ba45d0a0d9cc6d563fb86e#ref-n-CsQ9Ie.
Waikato Regional Council (2023), Pekapeka (bat) monitoring 2022-2023, retrieved from 
Climate change benefits
  • Biomass cover loss
  • Freshwater flooding
  • Increased pests or spread of weeds
  • Indirect health, social, and cultural climate change impacts
  • Loss of other ecosystem services
  • Reduced soil quality
  • Reduced water quality
  • Soil erosion
Societal / socio-cultural benefits
  • Biodiversity health and conservation
  • Climate change adaptation
  • Disaster risk reduction
  • Human physical health and wellbeing
  • Water security and quality
Ecological benefits
  • Aesthetic value / artistic inspiration
  • Biological control (regulation of pests and disease)
  • Climate regulation
  • Creation of a sense of place
  • Cultural diversity and history
  • Disturbance prevention (erosion, storm damage, flooding etc.)
  • Education and knowledge
  • Fixation of solar energy
  • Freshwater, Genetic resources (diversity)
  • Habitat provision
  • Pollination
  • Purification (of water, soil, air)
  • Recreation and tourism
  • Relaxation and psychological wellbeing
  • Soil building
  • Species maintenance
  • Spiritual and religious inspiration

Summary of case study

In the Waikato region, over 200 species are at risk of extinction with over 75% loss of Indigenous ecosystem cover (Environment Waikato Regional Council, 2007). Taiea te Taiao corridor, aims to reintegrate Maungatautari and Pirongia maunga (mountains) through the planting of diverse vegetation that enhances the growth of native species, revitalising iwi (local people) connections to the Mangapiko stream, and enhancing water quality (NZ Landcare Trust, 2023a). There are nine heritage sites along this ecological corridor. The purpose of this project is to improve the health and well-being of the ecology and community along Mangapiko stream (NZ Landcare Trust, 2023b). The long-term vision of this project is to restore wetlands and their associated species, envisioning the presence of tomtits, tīeke, and hihi thriving within the central corridor and an increased abundance of other birds such as kererū and kākā.

Connecting the Mangapiko and Waipā rivers between Maungatautari and Pirongia te aroaro o Kahu is vital for biodiversity, serving as life-sustaining pathways. However, gaps between habitats pose challenges for species movement, particularly for birds limited by the size of gaps they are willing to cross. Those bird species were Mohua/yellowhead, tītipounamu/rifleman, pīpipi/brown creeper, weka, tīeke/NI saddleback, kakaruwai/South Island robin, toutouwai/North Island robin and miromiro/tomtit that are gap-limited, preferring not to cross gaps of over five kilometres (Environmental Protection Authority, 2023). To address this, small habitats, or stepping-stones, are strategically established along the ecological corridor. These stepping stones, spaced at a minimum of three kilometres apart, facilitate the movement of small birds and invertebrates (Environmental Protection Authority, 2023). Predator control within these stepping stones aims to attract birds like tīeke and hihi from Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari into the corridor. The locations of these stepping stones are chosen based on local mātauranga (traditional knowledge), focusing on significant areas for the hapū (kinship group, clan, tribe or subtribe), such as those associated with Mātakitaki Pā. The restoration efforts aim to revive the mauri (life force) and significance of the rivers, inviting biodiversity back to the land and creating opportunities for gathering kai (food).

130,000+ plants have been planted in the corridor and are regularly maintained, with weed control across 22 hectares (NZ Landcare Trust, 2023b). 9 kilometres of waterways have been fenced to protect native trees with 1.5 kilometres of river management (including erosion control measures and crack willow removal) (NZ Landcare Trust, 2023b). Approximately 4,300 hectares of land have been managed for pests on both maunga by maintaining existing trap lines and bait networks, and installation of more than 100 new traps in the corridor (NZ Landcare Trust, 2023b). The measurable impacts are expected in the first five or ten years of the project including monitoring through eDNA, pekapeka (long-tailed) bat monitoring, predator monitoring, and tuna/eel monitoring (NZ Landcare Trust, 2023b). 

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