Conservation Volunteers at Punakaiki with Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto Partnership

In 2008, Rio Tinto had a vision to create long-term sustainability for the local community of Punakaiki. This idea lead to the Punakaiki Coastal Restoration Project (PCRP). The PCRP strives to rehabilitate the site at the foothills of the Paparoa mountain range. After nine years of hard work, the PCRP is still actively contributing to the West Coast’s economic, social, and environmental values. Rio Tinto is the PCRP’s main supporter, building on a strong relationship with Conservation Volunteers spanning over 20 years.

Punakaiki Coastal Restoration Project Contributions

Punakaiki is home to the Westland Petrel (Tāiko), a unique and nationally threatened species of bird. The site of the PCRP forms an important path that connects to the foothills of the Paparoa mountain range, which is the Westland Petrel’s flight path. Punakaiki is also the bird’s only breeding site. By preserving the coastal environment of Punakaiki, the PCRP maintains the Westland Petrel’s habitat, therefore keeping the species away from extinction.

Thanks to Rio Tinto’s funding support and our volunteers’ tireless work, over sixty percent of the site has been restored to native forest. Our volunteers have spent over 50,000 hours working at Punakaiki, planting over 160,000 eco-sourced plants from our on-site nursery. The site is now gazetted as a Nature Reserve, following Rio Tinto’s gifting of the land. Through research conducted by Lincoln University, which joined the partnership in 2013, there is clear evidence that the ecosystem is beginning to function as it had before human intervention. This research also shows that biodiversity is returning.

The PCRP has contributed over $3.3 million to the Punakaiki economy. These profits come from direct employment, investment in infrastructure, volunteer contributions to the region, and in-kind volunteer labour. The local community have shown strong support for the project, which the Return of the Petrel Festival exemplifies. The PCRP’s selection as a finalist in the 2016 Green Ribbon awards has recognized the project’s achievements.

The PCRP’s contributions to this environment are profound. CVNZ has been responsible for the project’s management and implementation since its inception. The Punakaiki site provides an ongoing showcase of our land and management capacity. The project also demonstrates a model partnership between community, business, education, and government agency.

Want to Get Involved?

If you would like to find out a little more about our upcoming projects or to get your company involved in a volunteer day, feel free to contact us. For more information or to get involved please call 0800 56 76 86 or email info@cvnz.org.nz. We’d love to have your help.