Tucked away behind Auckland landmark Rangitoto, 1509 hectare Motutapu is the site of one of New Zealand’s largest ecological restoration projects.  The island’s 100 hectares of native forest, planted by Motutapu Restoration Trust volunteers over the last twenty four years, is home to growing populations of some of the country’s rarest native species.

Now support from global fruit provider, Dole, will allow the Motutapu Restoration Trust to further develop habitats to achieve its long-term goal of creating sustainable populations oftakah?, Coromandel brown kiwi, tieke (saddlebacks) and other threatened species. These threatened native birds are able to breed safely on Motutapu because DOC removed pests – including stoats, rats and possums – from Motutapu and Rangitoto.

Storm damage

Dole’s investment in the MRT’s conservation work on Motutapu comes at an opportune time, after the recent destructive storms triggered major slips on the island.

Due to severe damage to roads and other infrastructure, DOC closed Motutapu to the public, to keep them safe. DOC is working hard to enable MRT volunteers to have safe access to areas on the island where it’s safe for them to continue their planting programme.

The storm damage dealt a significant blow to the MRT’s conservation work on Motutapu. But with the support of DOC and Dole, the Trust’s volunteers are finally in the process of getting the 2017 planting programme underway after a late start.

Brett Butland, chair of Motutapu Restoration Trust, says the contribution of sponsorships such as Dole are crucial to the Trust’s operations.

“The volunteer army effort must be supported by having the right equipment, site preparation and transport.”  

The nursery, for example, is 6km from the planting site, so everything must be trucked over in readiness for a planting day.

“The Trust greatly appreciates the sponsorship of Dole as it means we can spend funds on the issues of greatest importance for the restoration of the island – such as when the nursery irrigation system breaks down.  As a charitable trust, all such funds are invested into the island.”

Restoration of the island

The Motutapu Restoration Trust (MRT) was established in 1994 as a way for the community and private sector to contribute to the restoration of Motutapu’s natural and cultural landscape.

The MRT maintains a database of more than 4,000 volunteers and supporters. Volunteers established a nursery on the island, where they grow approximately 15,000 native seedlings a year, and have now planted almost half a million. Controlling weeds, that threaten the emerging native forest, is another vital element of the Trust’s work.

Support from Dole

Dole’s support and investment in Motutapu reflects the company’s commitment to conservation and sustainability in New Zealand.

Dole Food Company, Inc is the world’s largest producer of fruit and vegetables. The company’s history goes back to the nineteenth century, whenfounder James Dole,made the pledge, “We have built this company on quality, and quality, and quality.” It’s a pledge that has been honoured since day one.

If we fast forward to the present day, Dole New Zealand operates as a subsidiary of Dole Asia Holding Pte. The Fresh Division and Dole Worldwide Packaged Division are now part of the Itochu Company of Japan.

James Dole’s original commitment to quality is still central to everything the company does. This commitment is reinforced by ITOCHU’s mission of good for the community, demonstrated locally in the Hauraki Gulf with Dole’s focus on supporting Motutapu Island and its conservation and restoration.

About Motutapu

On Auckland’s doorstep, Motutapu Island is linked by causeway to Rangitoto in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, a 30-minute ferry ride from the central city. Motutapu and Rangitoto were both declared pest-free sanctuaries in August 2011, after the Department of Conservation (DOC) cleared both islands of introduced predators, including stoats, rats and possums. This has enabled DOC, the Motutapu Restoration Trust (MRT) and Ng?i Tai  ki T?maki to release six species of threatened native birds on Motutapu: takah?; Coromandel brown kiwi; t?eke/ saddleback; p?teke/brown teal; shore plover/ tuturuatu, and whitehead /p?pokotea.  In addition, other species of birds have reintroduced themselves, and numbers are thriving. This includes red-crowned parakeet, NZ dotterel, bell birds, kereru, and many others Two freshwater species also introduced are koura/fresh water crayfish, and re-finned bullies,

Visitors to the island generally disembark from the ferry at the Home Bay wharf, restored and reopened by the Trust to provide better access to the island. From the wharf, visitors can walk the Trust’s 6km Rotary Centennial Loop Track through the forest, and see and hear the diverse range of the native birds released on the island. The track is an easy stroll from the historic Reid Homestead that was built between 1901 and 1903. The homestead is the Trust’s island base, and it is opened in the weekends for visitors looking for a souvenir or a coffee or to learn more about the island

Other attractions include World War II military sites of national significance. The Motutapu Battery was built in the late 1930’s to protect Auckland from naval attack. Today it is the only remaining battery of its type in the southern hemisphere.

Dole New Zealand (Trading as NZ Ripeners Ltd, a subsidiary of Dole Asia Holdings Pte)

Dole New Zealand is a subsidiary of Dole Asia Holding Pte, working in New Zealand to support our Distributor MG Marketing Limited to market and distribute our fresh fruit. We work with Pave Limited to market the Dole Packaged Fruit.

MG Marketing (Market Gardeners Limited) are the largest Distributor of fresh fruit in New Zealand. Together we ripen and they then sell/distribute the full range of Dole Fresh products. Philippine Bobby Bananas, clusters, pineapple, plantain and papaya.

From Ecuador bananas and mangos are available; grapes are from Chile and ginger available is from Thailand.

Dole is a recognised sustainable brand through various certifications and Dole New Zealand (under NZ Ripeners Ltd), is a member of the Sustainable Business Network (SBN).

The Rainforest Alliance is an international non-profit organisation that works to conserve biodiversity and promote the rights and wellbeing of workers, their families and communities. Farms that meet comprehensive standards for sustainability earn the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal. These standards conserve biodiversity, protect soils, waterways and wildlife habitat and help ensure that farm workers receive decent housing, access to medical care and schools for their children. Dole is proud to hold the Rainforest Alliance Certificate (RAC) on its farms. In 2017, Dole NZ participated in the RAC worldwide campaign, ‘Follow the Frog’ (#followthefrog) that aims to bring brand awareness to the certification.

Dole is committed to supplying the finest, high-quality products and to lead the industry in nutrition research and education. Dole supports these goals with a corporate philosophy of adhering to the highest ethical conduct in all its business dealings, treatment of its employees, and social and environmental policies. The Itochu mission: Good for the seller, Good for the buyer, and Good for society. “Businesses that simply pursue their own returns and ignore returns for society will not last. If returns are generated for both customers and a company, and people become more affluent and comfortable, leading to the realisation of a sustainable society, then the company will enjoy stable returns as a natural result.” – Masahiro Okafuji President and CEO of ITOCHU.


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