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Great Barrier Island Environmental Trust

  • Projects for 2018     12 September 2018

    The next phase of the Kākāriki Research will be connected to the community bird count. Emma, Kate and John attended a Community Bird Count workshop organised by Jo O’Riley at Okiwi School. Emma has also been working with the Okiwi Community Pest Project.

    Alison has purchased more of the popular trap boxes, given away free using the successful PFNZ 2050 grant.

    The Local Board funded cat neutering programme is continuing with 17 cats treated so far.

    The Local Board also funded during 2018 the printing and posting of the Trust’s two publications, Environmental News and the Bush Telegraph.

    The State of the Environment report 2010 will be updated in 2019, addressing the state of birds first.

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  • Accomplishments 2017     12 September 2018

    Another year has gone by with the volunteers of the trust advocating for the environmental well-being of Aotea:

    1. Predator Free NZ (PFNZ 2050) Expression of Interest October 2017: GBIET Chair co-lead the development of this EOI working with a collaborative group of mana whenua, local board, Auckland Council, local sanctuaries and landowners, DOC and specialist advisors. The proposal laid out a 10-year roadmap to a pest free island. The bid was not successful due to the size of the project given the funding available, but PFNZ 2050 congratulated the group on the quality of the submission, coordinated by GBIET Chair Kate Waterhouse.

    2. Rakitu eradication: Ongoing advocacy for the planning of this late-running project, which is a milestone in the Conservation Management Strategy for Aotea Great Barrier. June Brookes requested and reviewed OIA documents relating to the Rakitu Rat Eradication/weka issue and obtained draft DOC Rakitu Inspection Report – DOC/Gaskin/Taylor.

    3. Pāteke protection: Advocated for increased cat trapping. Pukeko culls and investigation of other causes of long term decline in pāteke numbers on Aotea Great Barrier.

    4. Rainbow (Plague) Skinks: Obtained expert advice on plague skinks, shared with the local board.

    5. Okiwi Kākāriki Research: Established nest sites and potential nest sites for Okiwi’s remnant kākāriki population and worked with the local school and community pest management project to protect these sites.

    6. Hirakimata and black petrel pest management: Increase in DOC investment of cat traps and cat trap monitoring on Hirakimata around the black petrel colony; second phase of trial of A24 traps for control of rats on Hirakimata.

    7. Rangitawhiri reserve: Science advisor Dr. John Ogden submitted a proposal for an expanded pest management area in the south of the island around Tryphena. This proposal was subsequently included in the PFNZ 2050 bid as the Rangitawhiri project a key project step to increase the participation of the community in pest management.

    8. Awana weir removal and improved fish passage in Awana stream with revegetation of affected stream banks.

    9. Inspection of Glenfern water supply dam, Okiwi culverts and Port FitzRoy ford with Council staff and Taryn Wilks re fish barriers.

    10. Mulberry Grove community pest management project: Trustee Matt Way successfully obtained a local board grant and set this project up to be run by the Mulberry Grove school and community volunteers using Econodes (monitored traps which report catches to a cell phone).

    11. Community trap library: Using a PFNZ grant successfully applied for in October 2017, the trust ordered rat traps and boxes and provided these to community members and landowners on request from the end of 2017.

    12. Database of Aotea landholdings in map form: Created this database for purposes of tracking the percentage of land under pest management – this includes 70 properties to date and is ongoing (aims to provide government and funders with confidence that landowners on Aotea are supportive of pest management and a pest-free island).

    13. Increased awareness, understanding and knowledge of the unique biodiversity and ecosystems of Aotea among both central government decision makers and locals (school children, the community, non-residents, visitors and stakeholders). There is no other organisation consistently providing this type of information.

    14. Increased understanding of the importance of managing pests and supporting conservation efforts in the community (whether they are the Local Board's, DOC's or residents' activities) and how to go about it, amongst landowners and the community.

    15. Increased understanding of what opportunities a pest-free Aotea might bring and why it is important (what our island would be like to live on and the likely path to extinction of many of our birds and reptiles if rat numbers are not reduced).

    16. Provided a vehicle for advocacy for conservation of Aotea Great Barrier's places and taonga with funders, Auckland Council regionally, DOC and other central government agencies).

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  • Our Island - the 100 year flood     1 September 2015

    On June 10 2014 the north of Aotea was hit by more than 330mm of rain in three hours. This was not forecast – it appears to have been the result of heavily moist northeast flow colliding with a severe gale strength southerly change. The rain fell on already saturated ground and as a result a number of catchments suffered catastrophic slip damage. The rainfall was highly localised - in particular streams at Okiwi, Motairehe, Karaka Bay, Glenfern, Wairahi and the Kaiaraara became logjams within hours, with all vegetation stripped from the creek beds as the slip debris literally avalanched down to the valley floors taking all and any infrastructure – bridges, culverts, tracks, fences and roads - with it. In other parts of the island there was little damage other than from the wind, but in the north the roading repair bill alone was more than $7 million.

    The effect on DoC has been severe – not least the forced abandonment of the Port FitzRoy office due to an unstable slip above the road – which was also completely washed out. The lower kauri damn was obliterated. Many tracks were closed and some remain closed. At the same time DoC staffing fell to an all-time low of five on the island, with a core group of staff remaining, but with little funding for biodiversity protection and a split in the management of the island between DoC Auckland and DoC Whangarei. More than $2m in rebuilt infrastructure has been committed, but as a result the proposed eradication of rats from Rakitu stalled, as did work on a reintroducing kokako to Te Paparahi.

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  • Protecting What We Have     1 September 2015

    At the end of 2014 the fishing industry active in the northeast of the north island (FMA1) along with NGOs and central and local government agencies signed a pledge to protect black petrels. This was in response to 3 years of advocacy supported by Trustees Kate Waterhouse and Emma Cronin to influence MPI and others to act to protect black petrels while they are in NZ to breed by avoiding bycatch by longliners.

    The Trust also provided direct support to Dr Elizabeth (Biz) Bell to complete population research at the main colony on Great Barrier (Hirakimata). Trustee Emma Cronin travelled to Peru on a Churchill Fellowship to work with schools on the Peruvian coast educating them on black petrels and black petrel conservation. Emma also worked with the Aotea Art Gallery in Claris on a joint exhibition following this trip and on local school visits to the colony.

    Kaka research by John Ogden and Todd Landers of Auckland Council showed the critical role the Barrier plays in regional kaka populations. John has also been collecting observations of Australasian Bitterns which have been appearing in increasing numbers on the island.

    John Ogden again oversaw the cockle count at Okiwi estuary, which is showing a decline in cockle numbers and especially in larger cockles.

    Invaders continue to be a risk – rainbow skinks are an invasive fast-breeding species of Australian skink which are thought to have been transported to the island in potting mix. The Trust supported DOC and Auckland Council efforts to contain the spread of rainbow skinks through its communications and through exTrustee Halema Jamieson in her own project work.

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