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Developer Scalping Picturesque Landscape - 27 October 2007

Opito Bay Road - Landscape destruction

Land clearance on Opito Bay Road is nothing short of vandalism, says the New Zealand Kiwi Foundation.

The foundation along with a local resident have complained to the Far North District Council about the work which has seen almost all the 9,000 sq metres of the site scalped of vegetation.

Rangitane resident Kathryn Panckhurst believes an adult kiwi she found dead on the road opposite the site just after the land was first cleared (October 7) was a refugee forced off the land.

“I walk almost daily past this property. I can only assume it had been run over by a car while trying to cross to bush habitat.”

Foundation convenor Dr Greg Blunden says he is concerned for the other kiwi that live in this area: “Our monitors have consistently heard in the last five years, two to three pairs of kiwi in this area,” he says.

“Because of the land clearance by the developer here the habitat of these birds has been cut in two destroying their ability to move around and causing irreparable damage to the trees and plants that make up their home.”

The foundation is also worried about other wildlife on the land. The site is located within the northern part of the Protected Natural Area (PNA) Rangitane Shrublands which was identified by the Department of Conservation in 1999 as significant.

This report entitled Natural Areas of Kerikeri Ecological District says this area is home to rare and threatened wildlife.

It described it as: “one of the largest coastal shrubland/forest remnants remaining in the Northern Bay of Islands and the only site in the Ecological District where Pohutukawa, Kanuka and Towai-mamaku have been recorded. It is a habitat for threatened flora and fauna.”

The land is also within the Opito Bay kiwi concentration area as shown in the NZKF map titled 'General Distribution and Relative Abundance of Kiwi in Northland'.

Further the land is within the coastal marine area of the Te Puna and Kerikeri inlets and according to a 1996 Landscape Assessment report development must take into account the relationship between the land and the coastal landscape.

“In fact you couldn't get a site in a more protected area and yet this landowner appears to have neither planning permission for this clearance or awareness of the sensitivity of the site,” says Dr Blunden.

“We are not against development, but vandalism such as this is unforgivable.

“And if someone clearing land legally and it is in a kiwi zone, we are happy to come and move the kiwi to a safe place before the work begins.”

Opito Bay Road - Landscape destruction

To editors: for more information contact Helen Sissons - 021 407 397 - helen@newsjournalism.info