The Pukekura Trust supported by the Air New Zealand Environment Trust is working towards revitalising the Pilots Beach nature reserve.

With the assistance of Kids Restore NZ, primary and secondary school students from around the region have been working hard weeding and planting native plants for the benefit of the Little Blue Penguins in the area. A holistic approach to environmental management is providing an optimum habitat for the nesting wildlife and long-term, we seek to encourage other wildlife back on to the reserve.

In addition to the weeding and planting, the students have seen the local wildlife and learn about the kororā, (Little Blue Penguin), native plants and habitat restoration as part of the programme. Once the revegetation is well established it will represent the unique plant species mix that formerly covered the land surrounding the Otago Harbour. The project will eventually provide a living insight into the flora that was once abundant over the entire Otago Peninsula.

History

For Manawhenua (people of the land), Takiharuru (Pilots Beach) is a sacred and special place (wāhi tapu, wāhi tāoka). Chief Karetai, local paramount chief and signatory to the Treaty of Waitangi, lived out his final years on the headland overlooking the beach. The descendants of Karetai maintain a strong whakapapa link to this whenua (land).​

He tapa tū a ko i uta The inland boundaries have been defined
He tapa tū a ko i tai The sea coast has been defined
He tapa tū a Tāne Tane is responsible for the interior
He tapa tū a Takaroa Takaroa is responsible for the sea
He kaha ko i uta The inland areas are important
He kaha ko i tai The coastal areas are important
He kaha a Tāne Tane’s influence is very strong
He kaha a Takaroa Takaroa’s influence is very strong
Hai tapa tū a Tāne Tane stands for the land
Hai tapa tū a Takaroa Takaroa stands for the sea

Manawhenua have special relationships with all species considered to be Tāoka (Treasured), with particular interests towards albatross, whales, sharks and of course penguins.

In the spirit of Rangatirataka (cultural leadership) this area is shared with manuhiri (visitors) as a pathway towards regenerating the land, protecting the local wildlife and providing a sustainable environment for locals, whānau (family) and mokopuna (generations to come).