Rotokare trust suffers setback

JARED SMITH
Last updated 05:00 10/05/2012

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Backers of the Rotokare Scenic Reserve have been dealt a blow as they look for extra money for the pest-free wildlife sanctuary.

The Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust has asked both the Taranaki Regional Council and the South Taranaki District Council to provide $60,000 a year for the next decade.

However, the TRC has already knocked back the request, and will instead add another $40,000 to its environmental enhancement grant budget while undertaking a review of what they do in biosecurity. Rotokare may get all or none of that money.

The STDC will consider the request later this month.

Speaking at TRC's long-term plan submissions hearing on Monday, Rotokare trust members said the biosecurity of their 230- hectare sanctuary and the ecological benefits were what the TRC was all about.

"We're so well aligned to TRC objectives, so we'd like a much closer relationship with council," chairman Mike Weren said.

Project co-ordinator Kara Prankerd said the TRC's money could go towards the trust's Halo plan – spreading protection outside Rotokare's fenceline for the birds leaving the reserve, as well as a corridor to surrounding bush.

"Rotokare is a relatively small site, it's going to fill up quick.

"You can help us prioritise where these species can go."

TRC's director of operations Rob Phillips said staff had done a quick analysis and of the $40,000, perhaps $30,000 could go to Rotokare while $10,000 might go to the Taranaki Tree Trust, which has also asked for money.

The tree trust asked for another $10,000 to be added to the $30,000 grant it receives from TRC for restoration projects, as well as funds to increase its part-time co-ordinator's hours from 20 to 30.

TRC agreed to give another $8000 for the co-ordinator.

The Rotokare trust asked STDC for $60,000 in March, but councillors agreed they should put their request to the long-term plan.

Several councillors said that since the South Taranaki council had given more than $1 million to the reserve over the past seven years, the TRC should make a bigger contribution.

Mayor Ross Dunlop was at Monday's meeting and used Rotokare as an example of a regional asset compared to Yarrow Stadium, which STDC was opposed to TRC taking over.

"Rotokare would seem like much more in line with TRC's business than some of the other facilities you're considering."

TRC's officer report into Rotokare's submission said the council was already providing "significant in-kind support for a number of trusts and agencies, including Rotokare, in the biodiversity area".

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It also supported the Taranaki Biodiversity Forum and Taranaki Biodiversity Forums Accord.

The trust will make its submission to STDC on May 21.

- Taranaki Daily News

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