There are approximately 400 hundred plant species (excluding mosses) at the Sanctuary Mahi Whenua. This includes 140 tree species, many of which are not yet registered on the Unitec’s arboretum list (which contains 220 tree species), therefore contributing substantially to the Unitec’s campus tree diversity. All those plants provide invaluable habitats for many native animal species.

Some 25 bird species have so far been recorded at the Sanctuary Mahi Whenua. There are skinks and many species of endemic and exotic fungi, insects and spiders.

It is an unrecognised biodiversity hotspot: a biodiversity jewel in the Auckland isthmus. Visit NatureWatch NZ to see some of the recorded observations at the Sanctuary Mahi Whenua as well as the wider Mount Albert area.

In the spotlight

DECEMBER 2017

New Zealand endemic tumbling flower beetle (Zeamordella monacha; family Mordellidae) on a flowering hemlock plant (Conium maculatum) at the Sanctuary Mahi Whenua. Tumbling flower beetles get their name from their behaviour when they are disturbed -- they usually tumble away rather than fly. (Photograph by Erin Crosby).

New Zealand endemic tumbling flower beetle (Zeamordella monacha; family Mordellidae) on a flowering hemlock plant (Conium maculatum) at the Sanctuary Mahi Whenua. Tumbling flower beetles get their name from their behaviour when they are disturbed -- they usually tumble away rather than fly. (Photograph by Erin Crosby).

 

 

 

 

Around the Sanctuary Mahi Whenua there is flowering hemlock (Conium maculatum), a native species of temperate regions of Europe and North Africa, which attracts many small insects. This New Zealand endemic flower longhorn beetle (Zorion batesi) feeds on the pollen of a number of species, and has only been recorded from the Auckland region. (Photograph by Erin Crosby).

Around the Sanctuary Mahi Whenua there is flowering hemlock (Conium maculatum), a native species of temperate regions of Europe and North Africa, which attracts many small insects. This New Zealand endemic flower longhorn beetle (Zorion batesi) feeds on the pollen of a number of species, and has only been recorded from the Auckland region. (Photograph by Erin Crosby).

 
Many honey bees (Apis mellifera) and twobanded bumble bees (Bombus terrestris) visiting the newly opened poppy flowers (genus Papaver) at the Sanctuary Mahi Whenua this morning. How many do you see in this flower? (Photograph Bev Crosby).

Many honey bees (Apis mellifera) and twobanded bumble bees (Bombus terrestris) visiting the newly opened poppy flowers (genus Papaver) at the Sanctuary Mahi Whenua this morning. How many do you see in this flower? (Photograph Bev Crosby).

 
Globe artichokes (Cynara scolymus) are large, perennial plants with silvery-green leaves, and often more than 2 m tall at the Sanctuary Mahi Whenua. They are related to thistles and are grown for their tasty immature flower buds. If the flower buds are left to mature, you are rewarded with large, striking purple flowers which add a vibrancy to any garden as well as attracting bees.

Globe artichokes (Cynara scolymus) are large, perennial plants with silvery-green leaves, and often more than 2 m tall at the Sanctuary Mahi Whenua. They are related to thistles and are grown for their tasty immature flower buds. If the flower buds are left to mature, you are rewarded with large, striking purple flowers which add a vibrancy to any garden as well as attracting bees.

June 2017

Our Cook Strait kōwhai trees (Sophora molloyi) start flowering in June. Its current conservation status is "at risk, naturally uncommon". This species is also known as Dragon's gold kōwhai as it is found on Stephens Island with Tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus). Unlike other kōwhai species, it retains its leaves all year round. It has a long flowering period from June to September although not as a massed display as in the other species. Tūī (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae) love the nectar in the flowers.

Our Cook Strait kōwhai trees (Sophora molloyi) start flowering in June. Its current conservation status is "at risk, naturally uncommon". This species is also known as Dragon's gold kōwhai as it is found on Stephens Island with Tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus). Unlike other kōwhai species, it retains its leaves all year round. It has a long flowering period from June to September although not as a massed display as in the other species. Tūī (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae) love the nectar in the flowers.

 
During the autumn and winter months our buttercup tree (Senna corymbosa, previously Cassia corymbosa, variety "John Bull") has masses of 25 mm buttercup-yellow blooms. The buttercup tree grows up to 4 m high. On warm, sunny days these flowers are visited by many honey bees (Apis mellifera).

During the autumn and winter months our buttercup tree (Senna corymbosa, previously Cassia corymbosa, variety "John Bull") has masses of 25 mm buttercup-yellow blooms. The buttercup tree grows up to 4 m high. On warm, sunny days these flowers are visited by many honey bees (Apis mellifera).

 

 

 
A female nurseryweb spider (Dolomedes minor) is guarding her eggsac on a rosemary plant (Rosmarinus officinalis). Usually females are only found on their nursery webs at night. This is a relatively large endemic species (body length about 25 mm) that hunts its prey at night. The female carries the eggsac around for about 5 weeks, and makes the nursery web about a week before the spiderlings hatch.

A female nurseryweb spider (Dolomedes minor) is guarding her eggsac on a rosemary plant (Rosmarinus officinalis). Usually females are only found on their nursery webs at night. This is a relatively large endemic species (body length about 25 mm) that hunts its prey at night. The female carries the eggsac around for about 5 weeks, and makes the nursery web about a week before the spiderlings hatch.