Meet a conservation hero: Guardians of Rakino Island

Last Updated : 13 Feb 2018
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Photo credit: Stacey Thomas
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Photo credit: Stacey Thomas
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Photo credit: Stacey Thomas
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Photo credit: Stacey Thomas
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Photo credit: Stacey Thomas

This month OurAuckland chats with three heroes whose shared love for conservation work has led them to establish the Rakino Native Plant Nursery, a secluded sanctuary regenerating Rakino Island’s unique biodiversity.

Before coming together, the three friends were occupied with conservation projects of their own: John Mackenzie and his family rejuvenating conservation land bordering their batch, while Kevin Wragge and his wife Linley were busy creating a seven-acre reserve with the support of Auckland Council’s Environmental Initiatives Fund (EIF). 

Driven by their successes, John and Kevin took an interest in yet another reserve which provided beach access to the island’s West Bay. Coincidentally, our third hero, Stephen Thomas owned a nearby ten-acre block and had already been experimenting with land restoration with his wife Stacey.

The three nature-lovers were brought together and from there, their joint ventures followed. 

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Photo credit: Stacey Thomas

Today, they are three years into the planting of the West Bay accessway that is used extensively by the local community and, thanks to their work, has witnessed nature’s remarkable transformation.

With the trio’s determination and skills, what followed was the establishment of the Rakino Native Plant Nursery in 2015. The nursery is sheltered in a beautiful valley abutting the Wallis Reserve and is now home to native birds and plants.

“Tangible results, the rapid expansion of bird and insect life and our promotion of Auckland Council’s EIF funding has seen a burgeoning enthusiasm for planting and we hope, in time, the various pockets of existing bush will come together,” says Kevin.

One of their most recent missions has been improving the nursery’s irrigation system and securing local volunteer participation.

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Photo credit: Stacey Thomas

“As part-time residents we are attempting to merge the demands of city life with the real pressures of operating a remote nursery. We are determined to succeed and provide Rakino’s planting needs and contribute to Rakino’s revegetation,” says Stephen.

The combination of a community nursery, enthusiastic planting and natural water supplies can but augur well for Rakino’s biodiversity, making it the unique place where man and nature co-exist in harmony.

To find out more about the nursery or to get involved, visit

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