April 2023 Update

Predator Control Update

After 25 years of hard work protecting the kokako as well as the rest of the native bird and plant life in Manawahe, the Manawahe Kokako Trust is winding down and will merge with the Manawahe Eco Trust as of July this year. Hopefully not much will change on the operational side as we will still maintain all the pest control around the kokako blocks and the wider corridor including McIvor Rd and the Cell Tower block.

There are almost 3,000 bait stations within the Manawahe corridor, however these are only effective if they are filled every year. I was involved with a research project in Te Urewera looking at rat densities in and around areas with intensive pest control. We found that once you moved more than 90 metres away from the pest control area the rat tracking indices were up around 90% to 100%.  This showed that if there is not constant pest control the forest will be saturated with rats. The rat territory size is only about 50 metres so without pest control there will be a rat pair every 50m or so and they will be quietly destroying the native birds, insects, bats and reptiles. Evidence from the Ohope scenic reserve also showed that if you stop the pest control even for a year the rats quickly bounce back to high levels. Ideally the bait stations should be filled twice a year, once in early spring before the birds start nesting and again in autumn to suppress the pests before winter.

Feral cats are another pest species we have been targeting and the use of game cameras has been really useful in showing just how many cats there are wandering around the Manawahe bush. In one block we set 2 cage traps and quickly caught one cat when I checked the cameras they showed there are at least 3 more in this one small area of bush. Reports from hunters using thermal image viewers at night are also indicating a higher than expected number of cats.

The kokako have had a mixed season with some nests lost due to bad weather and to predation, probably by harrier hawks, however some chicks have survived and will help boost the population.

We are undertaking our Autumn baiting later this month on Sunday 23rd, please get in touch by email if you are keen to help out!

Education Update

It has been a busy start to the school year at the Manawahe Eco Centre. The year kicked off with a working bee with many volunteers putting in hard work ready the old school for our manuhiri. Thank you to all the attended, we truly appreciate your time and effort.

Classes from Whakatane Intermediate have been visiting as part of their annual turf days. We start the day off with a scavenger hunt at the beautiful Matatā Wildlife Refuge following with activities at the centre. We have been experimenting with bug hotel building, beeswax wrap crafting, microscopic observations which spring into poetry, and a lot of seed collection and propagation! The turf days will continue throughout term 1.
We have also had 3 wonderful overnight camps with the year levels 3, 4 and 5 from Awakeri School. They enjoyed exploring the forest around the cell tower, a swim at Lake Rotoma, and activities at the centre. This was the first school camp for the children, and we were lucky with stunning weather and peaceful nights in Manawahe.

We are starting to plan ahead for our annual school multisport race. This is an event that many schools from across the Bay of Plenty look forward to and its a great way for them to explore beautiful Manawahe. If you are interested in helping out with this event in any way please get in touch with me.

There are lots of days free to book after Easter. If you would like to use the venue for anything, please get in touch! You can email me at educ.met@gmail.com.

Phoebe Carr
Environmental Educator