Words and images by Kate Evans

On April 30, 11 intrepid volunteers from all around the North Island travelled to Hauturu for the autumn working weekend, accompanied by Trustee and guide David Stone.

We almost didn’t make it.

After a moving and fascinating cultural induction at the offices of Ngāti Manuhiri in Warkworth, and several hours of quarantine inspection, the boat nosed out of Sandspit Harbour into swell so great we toppled into each other, the bow slammed violently onto the waves, and the captain advised turning back.

Gaining advice from the coastguard that conditions were better further out, we pressed on, and made landing on the western side of the island. Rangers Richard Walle and Chippy Wood, and Richard’s son Liam, hauled us ashore two by two on the zodiac.

We were a multigenerational crew, and worked hard with chainsaws and loppers to clear the tracks. During nocturnal explorations in the streambed, some of us spied a tīeke/ saddleback sleeping unmolested on one leg in a hollow beneath a tree—a perfect puffball of black feathers, and a sight unimaginable on the mainland.

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