Conservation Taranaki - August 2012

Read the August 2012 edition of Conservation Taranaki - Like no other newsletter.

You can also download the newsletter: Issue 18, August 2012 (PDF, 978K)

On this page

Marine Information Centre opens
Protection framework for Taranaki's environment
Kiwi helping kiwi
Living Legends
Mangahinau Stream
New Zealand spinach
Ranunculus recens
Giant weta
Oakura School stoat boxes
Huatoki Domain
Conservation Week quiz
Tramping Club volunteers
Trainee Ranger Kuruho
Kaiauai Staircase
Kaiauai Bridge
Te Ara Puāwai Project
Trap line helpers
Huirangi School
News for volunteers

Kiwi night at Puke Ariki
Planting in Ngati Mutunga rohe
Tiaki Te Mauri O Paraninihi Trust
Plants for Sandy Bay
Maui's dolphin

A new Marine Information Centre opens

Dennis Washer from AWE, Mayor Harry Duynhoven and Nikita and Brayden from Moturoa School officially open the Marine Information Centre.
Dennis Washer from AWE, Mayor Harry Duynhoven and Nikita and Brayden from Moturoa School officially open the Marine Information Centre

More than 60 people celebrated the Centre’s new displays and gardens down at the Port, right next to Chaddy’s Charters. The little building has been on the site since 1997 with wall displays highlighting the local marine area but by 2010 they had seen better days. That’s when George Mason and the Nga Motu Marine Reserve Society investigated an upgrade and along with DOC began to plan!

The TSB Community Trust and AWE and its Tui Venture partners sponsored the project and with some clever thinking by NMMRS members along with Kay Davies and Callum Lilley from DOC, we have a snorkelling, diving and beach combing experience without the need to get wet.

With its photos and descriptions of marine life it’s going to be a very handy educational resource and students from Manukorihi Intermediate, Moturoa, Mimi and St Pius all played a big part in the opening. All four schools are well involved in learning about and improving their coastal environment.

A protection framework for Taranaki’s environment

David MacLeod, The Chairman of the Taranaki Regional Council, Conrad O’Carroll from the Tiaki Te Mauri O Paraninihi Trust and the Right Honourable Kate Wilkinson celebrate another signing.
David MacLeod, The Chairman of the Taranaki Regional Council, Conrad O’Carroll from the Tiaki Te Mauri O Paraninihi Trust and the Right Honourable Kate Wilkinson celebrate another signing

The Taranaki Biodiversity Forum Accord was signed in July and Kate Wilkinson, Minister of Conservation was there along with signatories like the East Taranaki Environment Trust, the Taranaki Kiwi Trust, Forest and Bird and the Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust. It’s a regional response that aims to better protect native plants, animals and habitats in an integrated and cost effective way.

“Meeting regularly to share information and discuss common issues can only benefit the many valuable, yet vulnerable species and ecosystems,” said Kate. “I congratulate Taranaki on your initiative.”

Eighteen groups have signed the Biodiversity Accord so far but it’s hoped other community groups, research and educational institutes, as well as industry, will join to further enhance the range of knowledge and skills that can be called upon for future environmental actions.

Kiwi helping kiwi

Sparky the kiwi proved a big hit.
Sparky the kiwi proved a big hit

Two kiwi days at Bell Block School entertained plenty of people and taught them more about kiwi and the ongoing work in Taranaki to protect and boost populations.

Organised by the East Taranaki Environment Trust, the days included trapping displays by the TRC, kiwi call lessons, kiwi aversion hints for dog owners and Sparky the one legged kiwi from Northland. Sparky was a huge hit and seemed quite at home hopping among the humans - especially the small and younger of the species. The odd pat didn’t worry him at all. Sparky lost his leg in a gin trap many years ago so the safe trapping demonstrations were timely. Many of the keen young possum trappers said they’d make sure their traps were safe!

More than 200 children from Bell Block and Frankley schools took part in day one so let’s hope some become kiwi volunteers in future years.

Plenty of planters for Living Legends 2

Living Legend planters in action.
Living Legend planters in action

The goal of 10,000 plants moved a step closer in August with another planting among the back dune area on the northern side of Te Rewa Rewa bridge. It all began last year when Taranaki people and visitors here for the World Cup, celebrated New Zealand’s rugby heritage by planting almost half the trees in a five year programme. There’s three years to go.

Te Rewa Rewa Historic Reserve is managed through a joint agreement between Ngati Tawhirikura and the New Plymouth District Council and so along with DOC and many helping hands, the habitat for wildlife is being enhanced with a sizable area of indigenous vegetation.

Taranaki’s Living Legend is former All Black Ian (Legs) Eliason and Legs was back again this year complete with his presentation stainless steel spade that digs a great hole.

Community chips in for an important stream

Planting the first plants on the banks of the Mangahinau Stream.
Planting the first plants on the banks of the Mangahinau Stream

The Mangahinau Stream in Waitara is a regionally significant wetland, providing an important habitat for whitebait spawning. Unfortunately it’s threatened by weeds that compete with the tidal rushes and introduced grasses and that’s where the eggs from our freshwater fish lay.

Room 7 at Manukorihi Intermediate, is leading a restoration and track project helped by DOC, the TRC, the Friends of the Waitara River, Landbased Training, the Community Council and the Manukorihi hapu.

We’ve fenced off a small part of the reserve that is grazed and we’ve planted the first of the native trees to improve this wetland habitat. Sophie Arnoix from the TRC is helping with a restoration plan, the kids from Room 7 have presented ideas to the Community Council and they led a guided walk during Conservation Week to give locals the chance to see what’s planned. Local historian Ray Watembach told some stories too.

The next step is some summer weeding! It’s hoped that one day, a track will link Nelson Street to the Waitara River.

Whio signs look good

The search for whio along the rivers and streams in the Egmont National Park has found a number of the ducks will lay eggs this season and it’s been exciting to find the nests. An emergency egg lift last month saw two eggs taken to the Esplanade in Palmerston North and while viable whio eggs, sadly, they didn’t survive.

We can expect more ducklings in the park from about the end of October so it’s just as well those new traps are out. With a top effort, Kelly our Bio Ranger organised the new traps and has been busy cutting the trap line tracks with Jo, Lynn, Jared and Kuruho… and Simon from Stratford High. This season’s ducklings should be a lot safer!

New Zealand spinach returns

School students planting spinach.
School students planting spinach

Moturoa and Mimi schools joined forces when they met with DOC staff, Bill Clarkson and Colin and Robyn Ogle for a New Zealand Spinach or kokihi, planting day.

Colin first saw kokihi in 1978 while on a camping trip in the Wai Pingao Stream area of the White Cliffs Walkway. He later grew some in his Wellington garden in the hope that one day it would be planted back on the coast.

Seedlings were later planted along New Plymouth’s coastal walkway and several years later Moturoa students grew 100 more seedlings from seed. They hardened them off ready for our latest planting. Local school Mimi also came along because they too are beginning to propagate local native plants for planting in their area.

And speaking of plants

Eighteen new Ranunculus recens plants have a new home at a site along the Normanby Road. Their threat status is “declining”. This plant is endemic to the North, South and Stewart Islands but in the North Island it is only known at one site near Taihape and another on the south Taranaki coastline.

National Recovery Group helps kokako


It’s been some time since the call of the kokako has been heard in Taranaki but the National Kokako Recovery group meets regularly to assess where kokako are at from a national perspective and plan for future recover. Emily King, Biodiversity Supervisor for DOC Taranaki is on this group and the latest meeting focussed on genetic stability within populations.

Recovery strategies include studying aspects such as reproduction, predators and food competitors, habitat use, sociality and pest control.

Tama Nui, one of the last wild adult male kokako to live in the Moki Forest was caught in 1999 and he was taken to the Pukaha Mt Bruce National Wildlife Centre near Masterton. His offspring went to Tiritiri Matangi Island wildlife sanctuary and the work of the recovery group will one day help a successful reintroduction of kokako in Taranaki.

Giant weta creep into Conservation Week

Two young visitors check out the Mahoenui giants.
Two young visitors check out the Mahoenui giants

Mahoenui’s giant weta starred in this year’s Conservation Week. Led by Nicky from DOC’s Maniapoto Area Office we entered the gorse covered reserve at Mahoenui to find a few giants willing to spend a week in Taranaki.

In early September the weta aren’t quite as big as they will get. When they’re full of eggs the females can reach 75mm. They have a 22 to 24 month life cycle and the eggs are deposited in the soil in the autumn. The weta then die in the first cold days of the new winter so they don’t meet their offspring. This meant our Conservation Week weta still had eight months or so to grow up. They were quite impressive though, never-the-less.

The giant weta were on display at Mitre 10 Mega in the Valley and at the same time people could make 5 star weta hotels for the tree weta in their own gardens. Mitre 10 had kindly donated all the materials, DOC’s Zane Shine had made over 100 kitset hotels and helped out by DOC staff and plenty of mums and dads, the home handy kids went to work!

The giants had a good week. They went to schools, were studied by the kids of the Kiwi Conservation Club and enjoyed fresh supplies of prime Taranaki gorse. All six were returned to their Mahoenui home in good heart, ready to share a few travel stories with their mates.

Big building day at Oakura School

Another trap being built at Oakura School.
Another trap being built at Oakura School

The kids at Oakura School were a huge help during Conservation Week building stoat boxes complete with traps, making some innovative tracking tunnels with Nathan Hills and identifying kiwi calls with TKT’s Matthew Penn. They used brand new technology that had recorded and analysed the birds at night and they identified the calls and recorded them using a clever computer programme.

This day was organised by the Taranaki Kiwi Trust and with Kelly and Mike from DOC the children had a chance to use the kiwi tracking transmitters, check out the giant Mohoenui weta and build some weta hotels for around school. It was a great day.

Great guides in the Huatoki Domain

Setting up the open day.
Setting up the open day

Vogeltown School ran an open day at the Huatoki Domain during Conservation Week.  The children gave propagation demonstrations and provided conducted tours of their swamp maire planting sites. Attendees were very impressed with the children’s enthusiasm and knowledge. Some Frankley School children and their teacher came along too. That’s great because they have big plans in place for a patch of bush that borders their own school grounds.

Bill Clarkson works with the students and they grow and transplant swamp maire/waiwaka and titoki in the domain. They’ve also been learning about pukatea in a recent class study topic.

Tui ticklers take title

The Tui Ticklers team.
The Tui Ticklers team

The Tui Ticklers (DOC and the Nga Motu Marine Society) defended their Conservation Week quiz title with an impressive display against stiff competition, answering seriously tricky questions like “All monkeys can hang by their tails, true or false?”

They carried off the “Great Stoat” in style while the Long and the Short of it, (TRC) and the Fragglers (Young Conservationists) fought a closely contested sudden death round for second and third. The Fragglers sneaked home after Nathan Hills leapt to his feet with an enthusiastic display of fast twitch fibres... and answered correctly. All winners were pleased with their very fine prizes of weetbix, a can of fruit and a teabag or two.

And the answer to the monkey question?  False. Only the monkeys from Central and South America can hang by their tails. Those from Africa and Asia can’t.

Tramping Club volys help out with the Mangorei Track

Graeme and Hugh looking at there work.
Graeme and Hugh looking at there work

New Plymouth Tramping Club volunteers Graeme Trevathan and Hugh Alexander have been leading the charge over many weekends to add the final touches to the Mangorei Track. They’ve been ably assisted by Patrick Coombe who is working toward his Duke of Edinburgh Award.

The A Team has been adding boards to drains and cleaning out silt as well as dragging spoil off the banks to sit alongside the boardwalk. They’ve moved some old totara slats for removal too; all things that needed doing to finish off a big job.

The Mangorei Track is a very popular route but the very high rainfall meant a very muddy tramp. Rafting has been used to bridge over tree roots and protect and stabilise the ground from erosion. 1.2 kilometres of rafts were made with timber driven to the road end and flown to drop off points. It’s been a combined effort by the DOC tracks team, contractors, the tramping club volys…and Patrick.

The adventures of Kuruho…Trainee Ranger at DOC Taranaki

Kuruho Wereta.
Kuruho Wereta

Kuruho Wereta is our new trainee ranger. He’s on a two year placement as part of his Trainee Ranger Certificate through the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology. He’ll cover the full range of ranger work over his two years. He’s off to a flying start!

New staircase for the Kaiauai

Kuruho testing the new staircase.
Kuruho testing the new staircase

The tricky scramble up an eroding shingle bank, using tree roots and a couple of old ladders has ended. Trampers on the Kaiauai Track can shoot up four flights of steps instead. The staircase is at the junction of the Kaiauai and Waiwhakaiho Tracks and drops down towards the swing bridge. Kingan Contracting installed the top section while the DOC track team worked on the lower section and approaches.

New bridge for the Kaiauai

A bridge on a newly aligned section of track does away with four river crossings for a safer and more enjoyable walk. There’s no more boulder hopping on slippery rocks so it cuts travelling time along this section of track in half.

Te Ara Puāwai Project

Kuruho stands by the new sign.
Kuruho stands by the new sign

New signs along New Plymouth’s tracks and walkways will see a walking trail that showcases the events, sites and characters that have shaped the region’s history. They’re of special significance to Te Atiawa hapū.

Under the guardianship of Ngati Te Whiti hapu and managed by Venture Taranaki’s Amokura Panoho, DOC, the Te Reo o Taranaki Trust and the New Plymouth District Council have worked together. With funding from the Let’s Go project and the TSB Community Trust, the region’s rich stories are being shared with a wide audience.

The first three interpretation panels, along the Te Henui walkway were blessed in a dawn ceremony and celebrated at a function at the New Plymouth District Council.

Kuruho accepted a book on behalf of DOC that tells the pre colonial history of the Huatoki, Te Henui and Waiwhakaiho areas.

Fit volunteers help out on the trap lines

Ten fit students from New Plymouth Boys High were a huge help recently, carrying new stainless steel traps to their boxes on a trapline above the York Road track. The traps were heavy and the walk was long but the boys carried on with good humour, skill and even the odd song. They took the old traps out of each box, placed the new ones ready for fitting and then carried the old and smelly traps back out.

These traps will replace the old ones that have corroded over time. Anna Deverall and her partner Dan as well as Dean Walker did a long day’s work the day before on another line.

This volunteer help has saved many days work and it means the new traps are now in place to catch summer pests out on the prowl and protect vulnerable species like the whio ducklings. We thank all our trappers for giving up their weekend. Your help is very much appreciated.

Activity day at Huirangi School

Kelly and the kids looking closely at pests and the damage they do.
Kelly and the kids looking closely at pests and the damage they do

Rangers Mike, Kuruho and Kelly helped out at Huirangi School as they begin to restore a patch of bush on their school grounds. An activity day introduced them to the plants, mini beasts and birds in their backyard.

They’ll get rid of the weeds, find out what used to grow there and grow and plant their new native trees, ferns shrubs and climbers. They plan to take care of unwanted pests too. They’ll put in a track and have a great outdoor classroom. There’s a small wetland area just over the fence. That’s on their radar too!

Good news for volunteers…and conservation

Chris putting together a new newsletter for volunteers.
Chris putting together a new newsletter for volunteers

There’s a very handy newsletter out for volunteers. It aims to make people aware of all the volunteer opportunities available - not just through DOC but with a range of Community Conservation groups.

Chris Rendall from DOC puts this together and Issue One includes voly opportunities, a close look a pest weed and a special skink, links to stories and groups and examples of interesting initiatives from around NZ. There’s also a comprehensive list of funding and grant options for your project.

The first issue will be updated in November so if you didn’t get one, let Chris know and he’ll put you on the mailing list. A new issue will be compiled every three months so the November one will just update Issue One with a few new opportunities and groups.

A popular Kiwi night at Puke Ariki

Cat and bird display.
Cat and bird display

Pests like this one were part of a children’s activity night at Puke Ariki recently. The children moved between stations and focussed on everything kiwi, from what they eat to what eats them. Biodiversity Ranger Kelly Eaton led a pests’ activity where the children found out all about the furry critters with the big teeth and why they’re not wanted.

Planting in the Ngati Mutunga rohe

Another harakeke planted on the banks of a river close to Uruti School.
Another harakeke planted on the banks of a river close to Uruti School

Urenui, Mimi and Uruti Schools have all begun some conservation work that aims to one day see more native plants along the banks and rivers and streams in their areas.  Mimi has set up a propagation unit and they’re investigating the plants that have always grown in their area. They’ve already begun to grow some while Urenui and Uruti began with a planting this winter close to school. Uruti also went for walk on the Mt Messenger Track to take a close look at some forest giants.

It’s an initiative welcomed by Rodney Baker from Ngati Mutunga. “Growing and planting trees can only help our waterways and in turn improve the outlook for our freshwater fish.”

Fine progress for the Tiaki Te Mauri O Paraninihi Trust

With Biodiversity Condition Funding secured, planning is well underway as Ngati Tama strive to create a near pest free environment on 1, 867 hectares of coastal and lowland forest at Parininihi.

Stoat control is set up and the focus is on possums and rats over the next two years with the DOC hunters helping out with goat control. This pest control will open the way for the recovery of taonga species like kiwi and titi or grey faced petrels, as well as removing threats to rare plants, insects, fish, frogs and lizards.

Project coordinator Conrad O’Carroll and his team have been trapping pests at Paraninihi for a couple of years now and would welcome volunteers for future work. Phone Conrad on +64 6 754 4112.

More plants for Sandy Bay

St Joseph's studends planting at Sandy Bay.
St Joseph's studends planting at Sandy Bay

St Joseph’s Opunake, Opunake High School and staff from Shell Todd Oil Services all helped to plant flax, taupata and spinifex recently in the reserve and dune area at Oaonui’s Sandy Bay. This project, funded first by STOS in 2000 and later by Biodiversity Condition Funding  is managed by the Ngati Tara Sandy Bay Society. This group is made up of locals, DOC and TRC staff and enthusiasts like Barry Hartley.

Sandy Bay is home to a range of species including the New Zealand dotterel, the Taranaki gold stripe gecko and Pimelia carnosa the plant that hosts Taranaki’s very own Notoreas moth.

It’s a project that has plenty of community support and with the help of a propagation unit funded by AWE and their Tui Venture partners, the students at St Joseph’s Opunake grow plants for the reserve and beach area. With the legendary coastal Taranaki winds whipping out the odd spinifex from time to time it’s not an easy restoration project, but it’s well worth it.

An early summer Seaweek!

Watch out for our Early Summer Seaweek in November.  We’re trying one in November rather than the end of summer. So far there’s a family activity afternoon at Centennial Park near Paritutu on November 10th, a Marine Education afternoon for teachers on November 14, a Sea and Surf morning on November 17 – (there’s a surfing competition for Taranaki kids as part of that day) and on Sunday 18th you can enjoy Jazz by the Sea at the New Plymouth Club.

Check the advertising and if you’re part of an organisation that would like to take part in Seaweek give Mike a call on +64 6 759 7193 or email

Threat Management Plan Review for Maui's dolphin

Maui's dolphin.
Maui's dolphin

The Department of Conservation and the Ministry for Primary Industries are seeking feedback from whanau, hapu, iwi, stakeholders and the public.

The previous Threat Management Plan was undertaken in 2007 and this review process aims to reassess management measures based on:

  • updated information on the Maui's dolphin population
  • the human-induced threats they are exposed to, and
  • their vulnerability to those threats.

Follow this thread on the DOC website Threat Management Plan Review for Maui's dolphin, to view the discussion document and if you wish, make a submission.

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