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Koru Native Wildlife Centre helping species thrive

For more than 20 years, conservationists Ellen and Brian Plaisier have been preserving wildlife in the Marlborough Sounds – and they’ve brought their expertise to the mainland.

“We started 22 years ago with Tui Nature Reserve, which is in the outer Pelorus. It was just bare land and we have slowly built things up over the years,” Ellen says.

“A couple of years ago we decided we needed more interaction with people to show them what we were doing, because Tui Nature Reserve was boat-accessible only, so it was really hard to get there. We wanted a place on the mainland, so we started building Koru Native Wildlife Centre and here we are today.”

The couple have constructed aviaries and enclosures at Koru Native Wildlife Centre to house the range of different species they look after.

“We breed native species under the permit of the Department of Conservation. We started with the red-crowned kākāriki and had them for a number of years just to learn how to look after them and make sure we did things right. Now we also have yellow-crowned kākāriki, as well as wētā and geckos,” she says.

“Our ultimate goal is to help out with breeding the orange-crowned kākāriki, which are far rarer than the yellow and need more captivity breeding.”

The animals bred at the centre are eventually released into carefully chosen areas where pest control has taken place, to give them the best chance of survival.

Ellen says she and Brian are planning on starting an education programme to encourage people to learn about the native wildlife.

“We like the idea of showing schools and groups of people what we do, and what conservation is all about. Our environment is so precious, it’s important we learn to care for it.”

Ellen says she has also started cultivating micro-greens in a bid to be self-sustainable.

“We are hoping to market and sell the micro-greens so we can cover some costs at the centre – the project is in the early stages, but we are hoping soon it will take off.”

The Koru Native Wildlife Centre is based at Linkwater in Marlborough. Visit for more information.