Pollen and Traherne Islands / Motu Manawa Marine Reserve

Since 1982 Auckland Forest & Bird has been actively involved in protecting Pollen island 

Pollen Island

Pollen Island

Involvement began in the very early 1980s with Forest & Bird lobbying for Pollen island to become a marine reserve.  We applied for it in 1995 or so after years of research and red-tape.  At this stage, Pollen island itself however remained in private ownership surrounded by the Motu Manawa marine reserve. 

After lobbying the owner, Ports of Auckland, Pollen Island was leased to Forest & Bird from June 1995 until June 2005.  A condition of the lease was the control and restriction of access to the island, and as lessee, prior to June 2005,  access had to be sought from Forest & Bird.  We managed this island located alongside the NW motorway opposite the Rosebank Rd offramp and prepared a management plan which identified the native plants and animals living there. During this time, a new motorway offramp was built which encroached on Pollen Island, and Forest & Bird liaised with Transit to minimise damage to the area. 

Ownership and  management of the island were transferred by PoA to DoC in late 2005 once the lease to Forest & Bird expired and as arranged earlier with Forest & Bird.  In 2006 the island was gazetted as an open scientific reserve. With transfer of ownership of Pollen Island to DoC in late 2005, Forest & Bird's direct management of  and control of access to the island, joined the surrounding Motu-Manawa Marine Reserve under DoC's jurisdiction.  Pollen Island had been transferred from private ownership to belonging to the crown, and a surrounding marine reserve was in place. Neighbouring Traherne Island, also surrounded by the marine reserve, is with NZTA/LINZ as crown land for motorway purposes. 

Interest in joining up with us to help with site visits should be made to Forest & Bird centralauckland.branch@forestandbird.org.nz. Messages will be passed to the group co-ordinator.  Occasional site visits are organised to neighbouring Traherne Island to survey flora and fauna.  Interest in these visits should also be addressed to us at centralauckland.branch@forestandbird.org.nz .

Because it is an extremely fragile and sensitive environment, and because landward access to Pollen island is difficult and potentially dangerous (getting to it requires crossing a busy motorway and trapsing through thick mud),  access to the island from the landward-side is still strictly controlled (you can access on foot by going under the Whau Bridge thus going UNDER the motorway) and across the marine reserve (requires notification to DoC under Reserves Act),  although access from the seaward side is possible by boat. 

Pollen Island is one of the few unmodified estuarine mangrove areas remaining in the Upper Waitemata Harbour.  Traherne Island has extremely dense wetland scrub.

Each area has interesting native vegetation and saline wetland bird species (refer to related documents and external links listed at bottom of page) and is a valuable wetland environment  within a highly modified area.  It is an important site for coastal migratory birds like oystercatchers and terns flying between feeding grounds in Manukau and Kaipara Harbours to stop off, and fernbirds and NZ dotterel have been identified living here, and recently a pair of Royal Spoonbills.  Recent visits to Traherne Island have confirmed banded rail there.  Fernbirds have also been sighted in neighbouring Te Atatu coastline (Harbourview), and we are endeavouring to find if they have moved here from Pollen Island (or vice versa) as the juvenile birds can travel some distance to establish new territories.

In 1995, F&B identified a rare Bactra moth living on the island.  It's presence played a significant part in decisions about the management of this island.

For years the islands and marine reserved areas have been researched by students, the Ornithological Society have had access to do bird-sightings and counts, and the Botanical Society has at times identified and catelogued plant species there.  Studies of some flora and fauna were done after the Painted Apple Moth poison sprays.

Pests and weeds remain a main threat to this wetland habitat.  Weeds are particularly bad on Traherne Island and neighbouring Rosebank Peninsula.  

Student research on rat-invasion on Pollen island was part of the research which won the F&B prize from Auckland Uni in 2006.


View from Pollen Island


Vegetation on Pollen Island

Contrarily, the adjacent motorway does act as a barrier to mammalian intrusion, as well as meaning that a huge number of people see this reserved area daily and at very close-hand. However, a concern is that plans to expand SH16 may have adverse effects on the Motu Manawa marine reserve and neighbouring Traherne Island flora and fauna.

A management plan which addresses weed control on Traherne Island has now been officially adopted by the relevant regulatory bodies.  Weeds and litter on Pollen Island remain a concern, as do illegal activities under the Marine Reserves Act.

At the same time, members have requested DoC to provide signage to show the thousands of daily commuters passing the area that this area is a marine reserve.  DoC is looking at places to erect signs right now (early 2010).

Forest & Bird makes these recommendations for walking to Pollen island:

1) Contact DoC about access to an open scientific reserve and crossing a marine reserve with fragile ecosystem

2) Visits be limited in number of participants and in frequency to protect the fragile ecosystem

3) Extreme care be taken particularly with the nearby motorway, and then the muddy environment

4) Don't go out there alone; always have at least one person other with you