September update

Education News August 2021: Hilary Hurst


Hi from Hilary -the new Educator at Manawahe. Christchurch born and bred, with 20 yrs in Palmy, I’ve now been in the Bay of Plenty for 10 years. I’m a semi-retired Science and Chemistry teacher with a strong interest in the outdoors, behaviour (human and animal) and kayaking. I’ve taught High School Science for 12 years and kayaking for over 20. I have also managed outdoor retail stores (including Alp Sports for those of you old enough to remember), competed in a few adventure races (Coast to Coast and Southern Traverse) and have completed a few transalpine journeys by foot and by horse along with a few sea-kayak adventures in the Outer Sounds. I have one adult daughter who lives in Christchurch and works in tourism.

This month has been a month of making connections with people, place and purpose.

With winter and Lockdown there has been very little activity actually at the school, but things are going on behind the scenes

Our presence at the teacher only curriculum development day in August was well received by Whakatane High school and I also popped in to Trident to see if there are opportunities for us to work together

We now have over 20 Microscopes ( thank you to Westlake Boys) and a selection of soft toy sound birds that will be used to extend the Science part of the programme (supported by taxidermied kiwi, kokako, stoat, weasel, ferret, kereru, ruru that we can borrow from DoC)

Key points from the last month

  • Te Mahoe School (yrs 1-8) came on two separate days. This was my first school, and their first time. I had the microscopes set up with feathers, Mahoe leaf skeletons, and assorted dead bugs. The Taxidermied kiwi, kokako and predators. We did a bush walk looking at the monitor tunnels, weta houses and a dead rat (prepared earlier), used Helen’s bird scavenger hunt and they liked that so much we followed it after lunch with the tree search. The second day the juniors finished with storytelling the “kiwi lost its wings” and did a beautiful waiata.

They are keen to come back next term and would like to learn more about trapping, and build some

Due to lockdown, other activities were cancelled or took on a different form

  • Students from waikato University had been coming to learn more about pest control and biodiversity
  • Conservation week activities had to take place on-line

Looking forward into turning this piece of garden into a functioning plant nursery and getting rid of some weeds

Trapping – Peter Fergusson

Despite having a few weeks in lockdown, we had a busy start to the month in August.

We have started a wallaby control trial with 10 feeding stations set up with motion sensor cameras. The aim is to attract family groups of wallabies to the stations and get them used to eating from them. Once the numbers visiting the stations are high enough (and we are out of lockdown) we can add an approved toxin to the food that kills the wallabies within seconds. We are keen to find out if this method of control is more effective than putting out bait throughout an entire area as this requires much more volunteer effort. We have another block with bait stations throughout that is being managed in this way so we can compare the results.

Already we can see from the cameras that wallabies are regularly feeding from the stations. It has also been great to see that only 1 rat has been detected on camera along with 1 weasel, 1 stoat and 3 possums. I would have expected more given the maize piles on the ground to attract the wallaby so this supports our zero rodent monitor results and shows the predator control we undertake is making a huge difference.

It’s great to have 3 new volunteer trappers on board, we are now in the position of having enough volunteer trappers to cover all of our existing lines.