This month has given me a sense of normality having students back up at the centre.
June has seen three schools return to the centre.
- Trident High School Great Barrier class had a great camp. They did some work in the food forest, helped with track clearing and setting up the auto traps with Peter. They also got to experience the Kokako block and Karaponga falls.
- Whakatane High School: Enviro group. We had the most amazing experience with Popokotea in the Kokako block. These students built trap boxes and also started the winter planting programme.
- SEC as usual are great to have at the centre. I did a trial with some bird calling activities as well as finishing the planting and weeding around the seedlings from last year.
- I met with Brian Ireland from BCA. It was great to connect with another Environmental Educator. He has some great ideas and is keen to visit the centre to see exactly what I am doing. I am also going to visit him at Aongatete lodge in Tauranga.
Marketing: I have connected with Otakiri school and St Josephs’ Matata and am meeting the Principals in the next two weeks to discuss the idea of a local learning project and connecting with Manawahe on a regular basis. I am also meeting with Principals at Apanui, Allandale, Paroa and St Josephs’ next week. This will give me an insight into where schools are at in terms of EOTC. Bookings are slow at this time and sadly Whakatane Intermediate and Kawerau South are not doing camps this year, however they are still keen to do some day trips.The impacts of COVID continue for 2020. I am hoping that schools will start to plan for 2021. I am really pushing the Local Learning curriculum and getting our local schools to engage in local environmental projects.
Project Co-ordinators Report
There has been quite a lot of trap line reorganisation.
- The reorganisation of the Cell Tower trap lines is now complete. I have put in seven new traps and increased the lines from two to three. I have replaced two of the less accessible DOC 250 traps with AT220 resetting traps.
- We are getting increasing numbers of the AT220 self-resetting traps as they require much less maintenance and will target mice, rats, possums, cats, and stoats
Unfortunately, we have had 5 DOC 250 traps stolen from McIvor Rd. These were free standing but had been there for years. I have four repaired traps to use as replacements and will go along the line and fasten all the traps to solid supports. Very disappointing to have our work sabotaged by thieves.
We have the opportunity to get more roadside traps on Manawahe Road, with a small group of landowners keen to get a small trap line installed near Herepuru Road junction.
The cameras in the cell tower show wallabies present in reasonable numbers and I have had reports of wallaby right through to Matata. I have had a discussion with Dale Williams, the wallaby expert from the Regional Council and looked at all the control options with him. There is currently no trap in NZ for targeting wallaby so after discussion with NZAT I am running a small trial using the AT220 set up on a modified mounting and baiting with a mixed herb lure. With help from Trident students I have set up six of these through the Cell Tower in wallaby hot spots and have cameras recording the interactions. Gaye is also going to get us some ferafeed strikers which get stapled to trees for wallaby control and I will use these with cameras to see if they will take these. If they do eat these, we can put cyanide pellets in them and that will do the trick.
We have done all our baiting in Pococks and the Cell Tower thanks to an amazing team of volunteers some of whom have done three days for us. Every baiting day I am always humbled by the enthusiasm and commitment of our wonderful volunteers. This time we have put out a lot of feratox as I think there are quite a number of possums appearing in the Cell Tower as the AT220s keep having possum kills. Our prebaiting monitor was 6% rats which is quite low given it has been a good season for rats and we are a month behind due to the shutdown. The rat tracking target for kokako breeding is 5% or less. I have yet to do the post baiting monitor.
I put out bat detection devices in the cell tower and in Gray’s bush and have the software to analyse the recordings. There are 1000s of records so it takes time to go through it all, but I can confirm that there are bats in the Cell Tower block!
The Regional Council has received approximately $75K for track cutting in the Manawahe area. This fund does come with social obligations and recruitment of workers effected by the Whakaari eruption or COVID are high on that list. The contracts will be between BOPRC and contractors completing the work.
NB – The Trust would like to acknowledge the Bay Trust from Tauranga who has assisted us financially for some years with Grants for our Operations Expenses. This year we a recipient of three years funding as part of their Multi Year Funding Grants, and for this generosity we are extremely grateful!
This means that we can concentrate on providing low cost Education Programmes for local schools and continue to provide environmental protection of the Manawahe bush, without worrying how we pay for the electricity, Insurance, general maintenance of the Centre, and all those other ‘normal’ things associated with running a Centre such as ours!
Thank you, Bay Trust!