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CLIENT NEWS: Charitable donation to enable community wildlife education in Waikato

Waikato wildlife reserve Sanctuary Mountain has been awarded $300,000 from Trust Waikato to enhance its popular community education programmes.

Sanctuary Mountain is a pest-free plant and animal reserve on Maungatautari Mountain, near Cambridge in Waikato. It is the largest ecological restoration project in New Zealand, developed to remove all non-native pest mammals and predators and to restore endangered native flora and fauna to Maungatautari. It has 47km of fencing, making it the largest pest-proof fenced project in the world.

Sanctuary Mountain acting general manager Melissa Sinton says the Trust Waikato grant will go towards building a new multipurpose education facility to host school groups, run community events, and promote ecological restoration, science and technology to the community. The facility will also have a purpose-built biodiversity laboratory for hands-on science experiments.

DV Bryant Trust, a Waikato philanthropic organisation, will also provide funding for the education facility.

“Educating the community is very close to our hearts,” says Ms Sinton. “Our education programme has been building steadily over the past five years, and we’ve now reached a point where we’ve outgrown our current location.

“We’re very grateful to Trust Waikato for this donation, it shows us we’re on the right track and that the community values the work we do.”

Trust Waikato chief executive Dennis Turton says the trust is proud to support Sanctuary Mountain and its commitment to educating the community, particularly school students.

“Sanctuary Mountain is internationally recognised and a wonderful asset to the Waikato region,” he says. “Their commitment to educating the community, particularly our next generation, is admirable and we’re glad to support such a worthy cause.”

Trust Waikato assists not-for-profit groups in the Waikato region, targeting a wide range of community causes and events.

Sanctuary Mountain’s Education Service contractor Tom Lynch has been helping plan the education centre project for several years. He says more than 12,000 students have gone through Sanctuary Mountain’s educational programmes, several of which meet NCEA standards.

“We offer programmes for students of all ages, including pre-school, primary, secondary, and tertiary students.

“Our programmes are fun and interactive, providing opportunities to learn about the New Zealand environment and the flora and fauna which make it unique,” he says. “We have a strong focus on conservation and natural history, and what it means to be kaitiaki, or guardians, of the land.

“We’re really excited to start building on what we currently offer, and inspire more people, young and old, to learn about our birds, forests, and wildlife.”

Known by locals as ‘the Maunga’, Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari is accessible to the public and expects to attract about 20,000 visitors this year. It is popular with both international and domestic visitors, including school groups. Its trust, Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust, is governed by a board of trustees comprising mana whenua, adjoining landowners and community trustees.

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