The status of ecology of kowhai ngutu-kaka (Clianthus puniceus) at Lake Waikaremoana, Urewera National Park
Kowhai ngutu-kaka is a well known indigenous shrub prized for its horticultural value. It is, however, endangered in the wild, currently known to occur at only 26 locations, 18 of which are in Urewera Nationa Park, 16 within the Waikaremoana catchment. Two types of site are favoured by kowhai ngutu-kaka: partially vegetated rock bluffs; and shrubland that has developed following either burning or the lowering of Lake Waikaremoana in 1946 for hydro-electricity production.
Following concerns expressed by park managers, a project was initiated with the following objectives:-
1. To establish the status of remaining populations.
2. To gain a basic understanding of the ecology of kowhai ngutu-taka.
3. To identify threats, if any, to its survival in the wild.
4. If necessary, to devise management strategies to ensure the survival of wild populations of kowhai ngutu-kaka.
The project is still in progress, but some observations and preliminary results are presented. Once established on a site, kowhai ngutu-kaka commonly spreads vegetatively by layering. Plants also establish from seed. Although the present survey has revealed additional individuals, the number of genomes forming wild populations may be relatively small. Most populations at Waikaremoana are in seral communities, and although regeneration of kowhai ngutu-kaka is occuring, changes in vegetation structure and composition will probably lead to a need for active management to maintain this species on these sites.