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Newsletter ~ April 2004 Issue

NZ KIWI FOUNDATION AGM NOTICE

The Annual General Meeting of the NZ Kiwi Foundation Charitable Trust will be held at Aroha Island on Saturday 15th May 2004, beginning at 2 p.m. We expect the AGM business to be concluded by 3 p.m. This will be followed by guest speakers, one of whom is Stephen King. We will then enjoy refreshments and food. Please bring a food and drink contribution, and please feel free to bring along friends who may be interested. To get to Aroha, take the Opito Bay Rd from Kerikeri and turnoff at Rangitane. The Aroha driveway is 100 metres on the left. Camping is available.

WHAT ARE WE DOING?

NZ Kiwi Foundation pest management activity now covers more than 12,000 hectares in Far North District. Here's a snapshot of what we are doing:


Kerikeri. This community project is based on Kerikeri Peninsula (Stirlings Quarry Bridge to Akeake Point to Kowhai Point. It has professional trappers (Rob Millar and Tammy Daniels) dealing with feral cats and mustelids (stoats, weasels, ferrets), whilst possum and rat control have been the responsibility of landowners. This structure has not delivered integrated pest management because the rats and possums are not under sufficient control. Our trapping programme is therefore less effective as there is plenty of prey out there for the stoats in particular. Still, there have been many juvenile kiwi spotted during the past twelve months. We are planning a peninsula-wide integrated predator programme to begin in August 2004. Further information on options for residents will be provided shortly.

The Kerikeri Kiwi Project is stretching out in all directions from its beginnings on Kerikeri Peninsula. In most cases, landowners are purchasing the equipment and NZ Kiwi Foundation is sending in a pest management expert, usually Ron Dobbs, to set-up the pest control system. The owners then operate the system and they can call on us for occasional assistance. We have assisted landowners from all around Kerikeri, Totara North, Taupo Bay, Kauri Cliffs, Opara, Berghan Point, and others.

Wharau Road. Ron Dobbs also looks after 500 hectares in his back yard, where he services Fenn traps and Connebears around the lakes and swamps of Wharau Road. Cats are a major problem in this area - Ron has caught 17 over the past year. Not only are there kiwi in this area but there are other rare birds such as spotless crake, fernbird and banded rail.

Russell Peninsula Kiwi Project. This project is managed by Laurence Gordon, and it encompasses the area (c.2,500 ha.) to the west of the electric predator fence from Clendon Cove to Manawaora Bay. Laurence services 900 bait stations and 200 double set Fenn traps. Poison bait-take is very low these days and little is caught in the Fenn traps because there are very few pests left on the peninsula. In addition, Russell Landcare Group looks after the rats and possums in Russell township and the surrounding area. The weka from the relocation programme are spreading all over the place and are multiplying rapidly in this low pest environment.

Purerua Peninsula Kiwi Project.This project is managed also by Laurence Gordon, and it encompasses the area (c.3,500 ha.) to the east of Te Tii. Laurence services 500 bait stations, 100 double set Fenn traps and a variety of other traps such as Connebears and Timms on the peninsula. Poison bait-take is low and little is caught in the Fenns because there are also very few pests here. The most noticeable visual improvement is the wonderful flowering of pohutukawa last December.

Te Tii/Tapuaetahi. Tapuaetahi Ratepayers Association and Te Tii Incorporation are working in partnership with the NZ Kiwi Foundation to maintain integrated predator control in this area. Ron Dobbs and Laurence Gordon set-up and are maintaining the system which from June 2004 will treated as part of the Purerua Project. Cats have been the main pest caught since the project began in late 2003.

Biodiversity Condition Fund for kiwi project areas. We obtained $25,000 per year for two years (2003/5) to assist landowners and community groups with integrated predator management in kiwi project areas. This money provides the base contribution to Kerikeri, Purerua and Russell Kiwi Projects ($15,000 per annum in total) and allows us to maintain and extend our work into other parts of Far North District. Ron Dobbs, Rob Millar, Tammy Daniels, Terry Higginson, and Michael Clouston are the personnel involved.

Map of area covered by  Kiwi Foundation - April 2004

Biodiversity Condition Fund for trapping on legally protected areas in kiwi country. We obtained $45,000 per year for three years (2003/6) to assist landowners who have legally protected their land or part of it with trapping expertise. These areas of protected land are primarily those with QEII National Trust Open Space Covenants that have kiwi on or about them. As a result of the funding criteria, this means that we are setting-up predator control systems on discrete blocks of land rather than as kiwi project areas as in our work on the various peninsulas. These protected areas are spread throughout Far North District and vary in size from 10 hectares to more than 350 hectares. Terry Higginson, Ron Dobbs, Rob Millar, Tammy Daniels and Michael Clouston are involved in these activities.

The Queen Elizabeth II National Trust plays an important role in our funding and in our ability to install integrated predator management on legally protected land because it provides funding for rat and possum control on QEII National Trust Open Space Covenants. This sits symbiotically with our Biodiversity Condition Funding for trapping on protected land in kiwi country and allows the installation of integrated predator management.

Corporate activity. Kauri Cliffs maintains an integrated predator control system which they fully fund themselves, with occasional assistance (Ron Dobbs) from NZ Kiwi Foundation. Top Energy now has in place a similar system at Ngawha. This is managed by Rob Millar.

THE NEED FOR INTEGRATED PREDATOR MANAGEMENT

The substantial increase in the weka population on the Russell Peninsula demonstrates that removing rats and feral cats from the environment provides the opportunity for our indigenous birds to not only survive but thrive. This is further evidence that the predator control method with its focus of controlling rats is working effectively. The low rat population has controlled stoat numbers dramatically on Russell and Purerua peninsulas. Removing rats from the system is an essential part of controlling stoats. Note however, that it is difficult to control rat numbers in areas of human habitation where shelter and food supply are more available than in natural environments. So, everyone has to do their bit (and not by using their cats and dogs!).

MORE DEAD KIWI!

Two kiwi were run over by vehicles this week on Opito Bay Rd on Kerikeri Peninsula, one near the Aratika sign and the other near the Opito Bay/Yacht Drive junction (another was run over near Yacht Drive just a few weeks back as well). This is a disaster for our kiwi and we encourage people to drive more carefully. The full-grown young male killed on Wednesday morning 28th April was still warm at 9 a.m. and must have been actually run over after dawn. Please report any such incidents to us and/or DoC - whatever area you live in. Another male was run over at the top of the hill into Rangitane last month and two kiwi chicks were killed by a dog in Wharau Rd.

NATIONAL KIWI CALL COUNT MONITORING

The annual national kiwi monitoring takes place from 6th to 27th June this year. We monitor sites on Kerikeri, Purerua and Russell Peninsulas, and will have to monitor some areas in the month beforehand to complete the counting. Anyone who can assist is most welcome to do so - this is where you can make a significant contribution to our activities. There is a kiwi monitoring workshop at Waimate North at 7.15 p.m. on Monday 3rd May. Ring Greg Blunden (407 5243) or Geoff Wightman for details.

WALKWAYS IN RIPARIAN/SALTMARSH ZONES

We urge extreme caution in planning walkways around the marginal zones of our inlets and harbours, as is happening on Kerikeri Inlet. The very highest ecological values are found exactly in these riparian zones, for kiwi and for much of our important flora and fauna. It is their breeding area, the place where, generally, people cannot go because it is relatively inaccessible. It would be a disaster for such walkways to be put in place because of the destruction during construction and then what follows - naive people who are convinced that their dogs do no harm. These facts were ignored by the consultant doing this job.

REASONS FOR SAVING KIWI IN FAR NORTH DISTRICT

If someone asks you the question “Why bother about Kiwi?”, here are some good, simple and clear answers you can give:

1. Kiwi are an endangered species.

2. Kiwi are an ecological rarity and should be valued accordingly; scientifically, morally and economically. We are very fortunate to have significant remnant populations in Far North District - most parts of New Zealand have no kiwi!

3. The community wants to look after kiwi. It is not only scientists and DoC that want more active measures undertaken for the benefit of kiwi. The first three rounds of the Biodiversity on Private Land funding allocated about $450,000 over the period 2003-2006 to community groups in Far North District. This is significant funding from central government. All this funding derives from applications to enhance kiwi and their habitat - by Aroha Island Ecological Centre, Herekino Landcare Group, Mahinepua/Radar Hill Landcare Group, NZ Kiwi Foundation, Russell Landcare Group, Waima Kiwi Group, Waimate North Landcare Trust, Wekaweka Community Group, and Whakaangi Landcare Group.

4. Concern for kiwi is district-wide. One can add to the list of funded community groups above a large number of individuals who are actively involved in looking after kiwi but who don't want to be part of a community group. A notable element of all this activity is that it is spread throughout Far North, other than Aupouri Peninsula. This reflects the fact that some kiwi are present throughout most of Far North District. There is widespread community concern for the future of our national icon.

5. Helping kiwi helps most everything else. Kiwi are ground dwellers, and if we look after kiwi then almost everything else will benefit. The quality of our bush and wetlands will increase because kiwi management ideally involves integrated predator management. One only has to look at the coastal fringe of Russell and Purerua peninsulas to see graphic evidence of the benefits of integrated predator management - the pohutukawa are blooming like they haven't for decades.

6. Tourism is based on natural values and spectacular coastal landscapes. Kiwi are an integral part of the natural landscape.

FUNDING: Organisations,companies,community groups & individuals

It is a never-ending battle to get sufficient funding for our activities. Many individuals now pay for pest management on their properties and are happy to do so. Please give us a call if you are interested to have us assist you with pest management on your property, whether it is big or small. Some corporate landowners are terrific in their support for our activities - Kauri Cliffs, Top Energy, and the Mountain Development Company for example. The many community groups out there are all doing a fantastic job.

At the end of the day, though, we rely upon charitable trusts and various agency and government contributions for a considerable proportion of our financial support.

Many thanks to the following:

WWF-NZ and the Lottery Grants Board for enabling us to pay for professional trappers.

ASB Trusts for $40,000 towards the cost of trapping equipment for Far North District (& beyond).

Pub Charity for trapping equipment for Kerikeri/Bay of Islands.

Bank of New Zealand Kiwi Recovery Trust for funding trappers.

NZ Government Biodiversity Condition Fund for work on private land.

Individuals who also believe that this is a good cause and have given substantial donations.

Thanks also to all members of the NZ Kiwi Foundation for their continuing support.

Also, a big thank you to Tim and Michelle Robinson of Rangitane for giving us a Garmin GPS unit.

Greg Blunden

Convenor NZ Kiwi Foundation