A photographic treasure trove of New Zealand’s natural heritage

Nga Manu Images is an online photo library created by Dave Mudge and Peter McKenzie, founder trustees of Nga Manu Trust, a charitable trust dedicated to the conservation of New Zealand’s flora and fauna, and conservation education. The Trust founded the Nga Manu Nature Reserve, just north of Waikanae on the Kapiti Coast, featured on this website. What makes this photo repository so unique is that, in keeping with the Trust’s objectives, these images are available free of charge for conservation advocacy and education purposes, as well as non-commercial personal use.

Many of the images on this site are part of a more than three decade-long project to develop a pictorial record of the ecology of Nga Manu Nature Reserve, recording the plants and wildlife and the way they interact. This photographic resource also provides valuable information for researchers. There are several series of photographs containing comprehensive data on nesting wood pigeon (kereru), fantail and tui. There are also smaller sets with data on feeding activity on fruiting kohekohe, kiekie and poroporo plants, and the scavenging activity of a number of animals, mainly weasel, possum and ship rats.

David Mudge and Peter McKenzie first worked together in the 1970s as zoo-keepers at Wellington Zoo. One day, over a cup of tea and a couple of vanilla wines, they came up with the (at the time, revolutionary) idea of establishing a “zoo” for New Zealand’s indigenous species. The idea gestated and evolved, and after years of persistence, hard-work and a number of false-starts, it was realised in the form of the Nga Manu Nature Reserve. [To read more about the history of Nga Manu and the remarkable people behind it, visit the Nga Manu History Project website].

Over the years, Dave and Peter’s photography skills have developed as a product of their passion for New Zealand’s indigenous heritage, and specifically, their desire to create a visual record of the way in which species interact. At times, they have been almost too successful in doing so. David Mudge’s series showing a rat’s predation of a fantail’s nest caused a furore among those opposing the use of the pesticide 1080, some even alleging that the photographs were “doctored”. However, subsequent research has established beyond doubt that rats, mice and possums (along with mustelids) predate on birds’ eggs and chicks, and, in some cases, adult birds. Although neither are professional photographers, their photographs are well-recognised for their quality and have been published in wildlife magazines and journals around the world.

Photo top right: A kingfisher arriving at its nest site in a dead tree trunk, carrying a cicada to feed its chicks. Above left: A rat finds an abandoned wood pigeon nest. Above right: A bush (or black) rat (Rattus rattus) attackes a fantail incubating eggs on her nest. Bottom centre: a morepork feeds chicks. (All images copyright Nga Manu Images).

To view more images, visit Nga Manu Images. There are approximately 500 images available for download from the site, and more than 100,000 contained within the photographic database managed by Nga Manu.

See also: Nga Manu History Project; Nga Manu Nature Reserve; First day of spring at Nga Manu; A Kapiti environmental history – Nga Manu Nature Reserve

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