Kia ora Koutou - Welcome

The Landscape Connections Trust (LCT) has coordinated the development of this community-led vision and management strategy for the restoration and enhancement of the North Coast landscape, stretching from North Dunedin to Waikouaiti. This ambitious project, entitled “Beyond Orokonui”, has sought to develop a strategy that integrates multiple community objectives for the project area. 

Between 2014-2017, the LCT worked with landowners, ecologists and Birds New Zealand ornithologists to study the distribution and abundance of forest birds across North Dunedin and East Otago. Teams of volunteers counted birds in key habitats to collect bird population data.

Baseline studies like this are a key part of biodiveristy restoration - they tell us what we have, and inform on what we need to do to protect our native species. Habitat enhancement and the control of introduced predators in the areas around Orokonui Ecosanctuary will help to create a safe 'halo', where our native birds, lizards, and invertebrates can thrive.

Please contact us either via email or using our form, we’d love to hear from you.


If you are interested in the Halo Project, see www.haloproject.org.nz


To see our latest news, connect to our facebook page:

The Vision

From the mountains to the sea, our natural environment is flourishing and abundant in biodiversity.  Sources of food, both farmed and wild, are bountiful and thriving under our stewardship.  Our communities are strong, sustained by the mountains, rivers, forests, beaches and estuaries that are part of our identity, our place.  We turn to them for adventure, discovery and inspiration.

 Blucher Road, © Flyover Media

Blucher Road, © Flyover Media



Support existing local economies and create livelihoods through community initiatives.


Connect people with nature and wise land use, encouraging stewardship and awareness of the natural environment that sustains us.


Manage the health of natural ecosystems, retaining and enhancing their capacity to sustain our communities.


Protect and restore our indigenous biodiversity, cherishing the distinctive character of this area.

The Management Strategy

The “Beyond Orokonui” project arose from a group of people who saw the potential to help enhance the ecological functionality of this landscape, and to see rich and flourishing biodiversity throughout the wider landscape into human inhabited areas. Importantly, there was a desire to better connect livelihoods with environmental improvement, to assist in creating change that can benefit people in multiple ways.

The Trustees of the Landscape Connections Trust had this vision, and having sat alongside and listened to a broader, diverse range of perspectives from others who live within the broader North Coast area, have learnt that similar visions are shared by others in the community.

This strategy has worked to bring together the many groups and individuals who have an interest in and a commitment to this distinctive area.  The management strategy recognises that as well as protecting and managing specific high value biodiversity areas, other actions are required to ensure broader ecosystem functionality and integrity across the project area.  Our health, wellbeing, lifestyles and economy are all dependent on a healthy natural environment, and it is this underlying principle that drives objectives to enhance our natural environment.


The LCT is now working as a part of the broader North Coast community, and other project partners, to implement the strategy.

The LCT will work with existing groups wherever possible, collaborating to ensure maximum impact from collective skills, expertise, and position in the community.
Existing project partners or supporters of the LCT are: Kati Huirapa Runaka ki Puketeraki, Otago Natural History Trust, University of Otago, Department of ConservationOtago Regional Council, OSPRI and the Dunedin City Council.

Community Advisory Group

A Community Advisory Group (CAG) guided the creation of the Management Strategy.  This 10 member group includes representatives of the Department of Conservation, Otago Natural History Trust, Kati Huirapa Runaka ki Puketeraki, local conservation groups, local landowners and other interested individuals.

The CAG also includes a representative of the Landscape Connections Trust, ensuring continuity across the governance structure.  Membership of the CAG is open to any interested member of the community, so long as there is a strong familiarity and connection with the North Coast landscape and its communities.  CAG members possess skills, knowledge and expertise in some or all of the following:
• Biodiversity management;
• Land use management;
• Knowledge of cultural values;
• Community development.

CAG members encourage and provide strong community leadership, and work collaboratively and by consensus.

coastal forest 10 (Headlands?) cropped.jpg

The Project Area

The project area is shown in the map below. Approximately 55,000 ha in size, the project extends from the north part of Dunedin and the Silver Stream valley to the Silverpeaks and Waikouaiti River catchments, and from Ravensbourne north to the Pleasant River on the coast.

The Project Area (for web) - v01 trimmed.png

Projects  Overview

The initial impetus to enhance the biodiversity across this landscape was provided by the Orokonui ecosanctuary, its incredible successes as well as the lessons that are being learned.  Expanding these biodiversity values beyond the predator-proof fence at Orokonui is an objective that is both aspirational and achievable.  It requires coordinated management and effort, strategic planning, and strong partnerships amongst those that live and visit this area.
However it is recognised that protecting and enhancing biodiversity for its intrinsic value is only a part of the equation. A healthy natural environment provides a range of benefits, known as ecosystem services.  Humans depend on ecosystem services to make life possible, and the basis of these ecosystem services need not be restricted to indigenous biodiversity.
Environmental improvement can provide win-win solutions for community development and enhanced livelihoods. These are often interdependent and mutually reinforcing effects.  For example, tangible effects such as secure jobs and good individual physical health can influence household and community wellbeing.


  © Flyover Media

© Flyover Media

We want to focus on species that are significant to local people, and on the enhancement of biodiversity in areas that form a part of people’s daily lives, thereby contributing to the health and wellbeing of our people. The whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts.  For instance, establishing ecological linkages across the landscape can provide birds, in particular, with access to more food sources and breeding habitat. In turn, they pollinate and distribute native plants seeds to areas that have had their species diversity reduced as a result of human and other influences.


Indigenous shrubland associations, estuaries, dry broadleaved forest / tree lands and coastal wetlands are very poorly protected, with less than 5% of their extent within the project area protected.  
An opportunity exists to enhance the connectivity of forest fragments across the whole project area, but most notably in threatened coastal areas.  Any such work will focus on assisting landowners to restore and protect remaining areas of indigenous forest, particularly in areas where ecologically important ecosystems are present.  Such work would include working collaboratively with willing landowners to exclude stock from fragments and to restore sites through planting and pest control, if it would enhance the functioning of the existing habitat.  Planting projects could incorporate planting of Threatened an At Risk plant species of coastal forest habitats.  Legal protection would also be considered as a part of the solution, increasing the durability of the effort.

 Blue Penguin, Courtesy Wikipedia User  JJ Harrison

Blue Penguin, Courtesy Wikipedia User JJ Harrison


Several coastal headlands exist within the project area, including Heyward Point, Mapoutahi and Huriawa.  These sites have potential to be protected from mammalian predators by intensive trapping and / or pest exclusion fences, thereby providing potential breeding sites for sea birds such as the sooty shearwater.  Restoration planting could be integrated within any such project, introducing appropriate coastal forest species.


The Orokonui ecosanctuary is surrounded by land that is not subject to any form of coordinated pest control. The spill over effect of threatened bird species from Orokonui into the wider landscape is now occurring, and it is well known that most of these bird species are vulnerable to predation.  
There is an opportunity to develop an area beyond the pest-proof fence into an intensively managed “low-predator” environment, providing greater safe habitat for threatened bird species beyond the Orokonui fence – "The Halo”.  This will allow these threatened bird species to inhabit those areas where people are living, contributing to an ecologically-rich living landscape, allowing for greater opportunities for people to connect with, and be inspired by, nature.  
This Halo project will require the coordinated and strategic execution of pest control strategies across multiple land titles, including public and private land.

Mihiwaka, © Flyover Media


The Waikouaiti River catchment is an important location for ecologically important dry forest types including matai-totara forest and kowhai-broadleaved forest.  Habitats within the catchment support a large number of Threatened and At Risk plant species.  Significant areas of indigenous forest remains on private land within the catchment, including areas that adjoin the DCC administered Mt Watkin Scenic Reserve and the DOC administered Garden Bush Scenic Reserve.  
There is potential to enhance the remaining forest areas in this catchment.  Excluding stock through fencing would be the primary method for achieving such protection, aided by restoration planting and targeted pest control

 Longfin Eel - Courtesy Flickr User churchofpunk

Longfin Eel - Courtesy Flickr User churchofpunk


The main rivers and streams of the project area, including the Waikouaiti River, Carey’s Creek, Waitati River, and Orokonui Creek, are important habitats for indigenous fisheries.  21 species of freshwater fish have been identified within the project area.  
However, there has been significant loss of freshwater fish habitat, through modifications to streams, changes to in-stream and streamside vegetation, channel realignment and changes to flow rate, water temperature and light/shade conditions.  
There is an opportunity to enhance and protect the freshwater values of the project area, through improving fish passage, fencing and planting.  Restoration of riparian areas would enhance habitat for threatened native species, ensuring healthy populations.  There is also an opportunity to integrate appropriate food production into this objective, generating food from both farmed and wild sources.


The Waikouaiti and Blueskin catchments of northern Dunedin are endowed with significant tracts of protected conservation areas, including the Orokonui ecosanctuary, Mt Watkins Scenic Reserve, Silverpeaks Scenic Reserve, and a number of privately owned covenanted conservation areas. Surrounding these protected areas is a network of forest patches that form healthy corridors, enabling the dispersal and distribution of flora and fauna across this landscape.

These forest patches may provide the ability for threatened bird species, such as the South Island robin and South Island kaka, to inhabit areas where we all live, beyond the fence at Orokonui ecosanctuary.

Thanks to funding from Birds New Zealand, and the DOC Community Conservation Partnership Fund, the LCT is working with local voluntary ornthilogists to collect data about our bird populations, and the habitat where they are found.  If you would like to be involved, please contact us.

 South Island Robin - © Craig McKenzie

South Island Robin - © Craig McKenzie

Ecosystem Services

This goal recognises that as well as protecting and managing specific high value biodiversity areas other actions are required to ensure broader ecosystem functionality and integrity across the project area.  Our health, wellbeing, lifestyles and economy are all dependent on a healthy natural environment, and it is this underlying principle that drives objectives to regenerate our natural environment.

The most obvious ecosystem services include the food we eat – whether farmed or wild, the water we drink, and plant material used for fuel, fibre, building materials and medicines.   There are also many less visible ecosystem services, such as water management, the carbon stored by forests, storm defences provided by stable dune systems, and the pollination of plants by insects.   Even less visible are cultural ecosystem service such as the inspiration we take from wildlife and the natural environment, which influences our health and wellbeing.  The recreational, and mental and physical health benefits to humans of being able to participate and enjoy natural environments and open space are significant, and well known.  Collectively these attributes contribute to our identity, and our sense of place.  For many people, and particularly Maori, biodiversity and a healthy natural environment is an essential part of their world view.


We are surrounded by ocean and people have always relied on its bounty to supplement food supplies. Most of us live within sight and sound of the sea so it is unsurprising that there is a rich store of culture and traditions associated with gathering kai moana, seafood. However, through the effects of land base activities, sewerage and runoff from coastal settlements, and in cases, over harvesting, our wild food is not always as prolific or healthy as it should be. We have an opportunity to work with Kati Huirapa and local communities to improve the health of these coastal environments, for food gathering, for recreation and enjoyment of our place.



There is increasing demand for local food that has been produced in an open and transparent manner.   Commercial farmers operate at scales that have become adapted to supplying export-focused commodity markets and require large-scale processing infrastructure and markets to support their systems.  As such, opportunities to supply food to local communities primarily reside with smallholders who have flexibility and scale of intensity.


(Long Beach, Whareakeake Beach and Kaikai Beach)
These lowland wetlands are large, and restoration of them would be significant, both locally and nationally.  For Long Beach, one important objective would be to increase the buffering and water storage function of the wetland, providing greater assurance of protection to settlement dwellers during times of flooding.  There is additional potential for enhanced wetlands to provide sources of food.


Restoration of the dune systems at sites such as Waikouaiti Beach, Warrington Beach, Rabbit Island, Purakaunui Beach, Long Beach, Whareakeake Beach and Kaikai Beach provide opportunities to enhance the buffering capabilities of natural dune systems, aiding their resilience to the increasing effects of storm events, high winds and sea surges.


Connecting People to the Environment

Environmental improvement can provide win-win solutions for community development and enhanced livelihoods.   Several positive effects of environmental initiatives include tangible effects (eg. economic and material wealth, physical and mental health) as well as intangible effects (eg. Social cohesion, culture and equity).   These are often interdependent and mutually reinforcing effects.  For example, tangible effects such as secure jobs and good individual physical health can influence household and community wellbeing.


The potential to create livelihoods and employment from environmental enhancement should not be under estimated.  Fencing, tree planting, tree propagation, food production, habitat and species surveying are examples of community jobs that can be created.
Any proposed environmental projects should assess the prospect of creating employment or livelihoods, and should proactively encourage local people to participate in those projects.  Concurrently, any proposed project should seek to expand the pool of skilled environmental volunteers by building capacity, and by connecting existing expert volunteers with new volunteers.

SAM_0523 enhanced.jpg

Guiding Principles

A number of guiding principles have arisen from the community consultation so far. These guiding principles directly inform the vision, goals and actions of this strategy.

1. Respecting Tangata Whenua – The unique status of Kāti Huirapa Runaka ki Puketeraki as tangata whenua of the East Otago area, and their cultural and spiritual relationship with the natural environment, is acknowledged and respected.
2. Sharing local knowledge – The local knowledge and skills present within our communities are recognised and respected, and especially the role of local knowledge in enabling the understanding of this place, now and in the future.
3. Working together – Local and central government agencies, landowners, NGO’s, urban, rural and indigenous communities must work proactively and in partnership with each other to ensure inclusive and transparent decision making for the protection, management and sustainable use of the natural environment.  
4. Everything helps – Not everyone wants to participate in organised or planned activities, but would enjoy contributing in their own way.  We will raise awareness and understanding of the issues and opportunities, and encourage people to translate, interpret and implement as they see fit.
5. Sharing responsibilities – Everyone benefits from our natural environment and has a responsibility for its use.  Community support or participation is important for identifying and solving environmental problems and developing strong communities.  
6. Pooling resources – Resources are constrained, and as such collaboration and sharing of resources is essential to sustain project work. We need to share knowledge and capability, and costs and benefits.
7. Strengthening local pride – The celebration of our unique environment and our people will create a strong local sense of identity, belonging and pride.  

8. Weaving nature through our lives - Most people engage with the natural environment at some point in their daily lives.  We will promote and enhance people’s awareness and connection to nature, recognising that these experiences contribute to people’s health and wellbeing.

9. Enhancing ecosystems – Management of the natural environment will be most effective when we adopt an ecosystem approach that looks at the environment as a whole.
10. Creating livelihoods, jobs and local enterprise opportunities – Enhancing the environment and creating opportunities for new enterprises requires capable people who are able to deliver quality outcomes, as well as opportunities for local employment and livelihoods.
11. Using science to inform decision-making – Research, trials and implementation of local, grounded, scientific initiatives will help achieve strong outcomes, and will enhance our knowledge.
12. Achieving effective solutions – Innovation, flexibility and an ability to think outside of the norm is necessary when designing work programmes and solutions.   However, these solutions must be cost effective, practical and appropriately monitored.
13. Being a strong advocate – We will advocate for more involvement in statutory decision making processes, and will hold local and central government agencies accountable for their statutory responsibilities.

14. Commitment to safety and well-being – Underpinning all the Trust’s activities is a fundamental commitment to the safety and well-being of all involved; contractors, volunteers, clients and community.  The Trust has developed policies and processes to reflect this commitment, and will continuously review their effectiveness.  Similarly, we encourage all who engage with the Trust to take responsibility for their own safety and well-being, together with that of their fellow volunteers and colleagues.