Pongaroa Station soldiers on with more pest control work

Since the beginning of spring, Pongaroa has been boasted with the arrival of a pair of Kaka birds.  This has provided the Station with an ideal opportunity to think about extending it’s pest control programme.

Last week a rat monitoring exercise was carried out on the farm to measure the impact of future work.  This technique is referred to as tunnel tracking.  Ten plastic tunnels were laid out in the bush, 50 metres apart.  Inside the tunnels, a cardboard card is installed with some ink on it.  When the rat travels through the tunnel it walks on the ink and leaves footprints on the cardboard.  This technique will provide precious insight into the level  of rat  presence in the area.

On Pongaroa Station, rat presence is estimated to be around 12.5%-which is considered reasonably low.  This could be the result of 15 years of possum control work on the farm which we know affects rat populations as well.  We hope this benchmark will give us some insight into addressing the issue of rat populations over the next few years as we extend our pest control efforts.


The senior class at Te Mahia school hike up to the Whangawehi shelter for the first time.

With some careful planning & preparation, the senior class finally set off for there first visit to the Whangawehi shelter on the 28th February 2018.  Initially this visit was planned for November 2017 but had to be postponed as it was rained out.  The weather was perfect for an hour’s hike over O’Brien’s farm this time round, with two vehicles bringing up the rear, carrying SHMAKs and other resources. At the shelter we split into two groups. The boys headed down to the stream with Arthur and Jenni and two dads. Testing the stream was interesting, though few creatures were found – plenty of snails in the algae and a few worms were. 

The water was clear. Meanwhile the girls were investigating the difference in the 8 cultivars of harakeke growing around the shelter. The groups then exchanged places but this time the stream group went to a stonier site and found at least 15 inanga hungrily feeding on grasshoppers who had leapt to their death into the stream. More invertebrates were discovered there under the stones.

 The hike back was a challenge for some, but we all arrived back at school cheerful and with a great experience to share.  We look forward to the Rocky Shore field trip planned for March.

The Coops are finalists at the Ballance farm environmental awards

We are wrapped for Richard and Hanna Coops from Okepuha Station who have been nominated as a finalist for the East Coast section of the Ballance Farm Environmental awards.  Last year the Coops committed to an extensive planting programme which involved retiring and fencing off large chunks of their land.  Both of them have indicated that they are keen to undertake further environmental work in the near future. Winners will be announced at the Ballance Farm Environmental Awards at the Napier conference Centre on Wednesday 28th March 208.  On behalf of the Whangawehi Catchment Management Group we wish them all the best at the ceremony.

Whangawehi Finalist at the New Zealander of the Year Awards.

NZealnaderofyearCertificateFeb2018IMG_1339IMG_1336On Thursday 22nd February, three members of the Whangawehi Catchment Management Group (Pat O’Brian, Arthur Bowen & Nic Caviale) flew to Auckland to represent the group at the prestigious New Zealander of the Year awards. These awards celebrate individuals and groups for the way they are making a difference to their communities and our country. The Whangawehi group had been nominated in the community section and progressed to the final three in there category. They were up against Pillars from Auckland and The Canterbury Charity Hospital in Christchurch.

Out of a total of 750 applicants only 18 groups were invited to the finalist awards. The venue for this year’s ceremony was held at the 5 Star Cordis Hotel in Auckland where 800 invited guests were entertained and wined & dined.All guests enjoyed the powhiri performed by Cloralation, a multi award winning combined choir from Westlake Girls and Westlake Boys High Schools. An impressive opening welcome was presented by Kiwibank New Zelander of the Year Patron, Rt Hon James Bolger. TV One was covering the event live and Pat, Arthur and Nic all remarked on how prestigious the event felt. The three members got to mingle with all the other guests during the pre-function cocktail party and were impressed by the quality of food served during the three course ceremony meal.Presentations of each of the six categories were given from a variety of established and well known figures throughout New Zealand.

Unfortunately the Whangawehi Catchment Management group were not winners of the community section this time round and instead that honour went to the Canterbury Charity Hospital. A worthy recipient who provide free medical treatment to people who don’t fit the criteria for public health system or who can’t afford it otherwise. The Prime Minister, the Hon Jacinta Ardern presented The New Zealander of the Year award. This year it couldn’t have gone to more worthy recipient, Kristine Bartlett. A face for caregivers in the aged care sector who shocked the country when she won a landmark equal pay victory for them.

Nicolas Caviale-Delzescaux, project manager for the Whangawehi Catchment Management group states that “it was an honour to be the only environmental group at these awards this year”. These awards help raise the profile of the group especially when the work they perform is in such an isolated part of the country.

The group already have a raft of national awards up their sleeve. Kathleen Mato, founder of the Whangewehi Catchment Management Group was the winner of the environmental section for the 2014 Pride of New Zealand awards. In 2015, Rae Te Nahu took away the Kiwibank local hero medal for her services to the group. Then in 2017 the group won the most prestigious environmental award for the country, The Green Ribbon Award. Currently the Whangawehi River is the only river in the Hawkes Bay district to be bucking the trend. Water quality is up by 15% (E Coli) and the group still have more ambitious targets to come.

Water monitoring update

Yesterday Arthur Bowen performed his standard water monitoring run as part of our monthly water monitoring programme.  Due to the rain we have had lately – algae- which had built up over the warmer summer months in the stream, has been flushed out.  As a result, the stream looks quite healthy and clean. We observed an abundance of 10 cm elvers in the headwaters (mainly in the forest) as well as some Inanga in the Aramatua stream…all very encouraging news for our water quality data.

Pest control development on Pongaroa

Today we were grateful to have the expertise of Rod Dickson (biodiversity officer from HBRC) and Hans Rook who both came to support the pest control work been undertaken on Pongaroa Station.  Pongaroa Station has decided to accelerate and expand its pest control programme since Kaka have been observed on the station.   The farm already manages 10 traps along the river but with the spotting of several Kaka Rod Dickson has generously offered 10 more traps.  Valuable advice was shared on how to maintain the traps and we are hoping that Kaka will permanently settle in the valley with reduced predator numbers.  The trap catches will be collected by the farm and inputted into Trap.org, a national pest control platform.

Thank you Rod and Hans for sharing your expertise and keeping the momentum going.

Update on Okepuha plantings

A quality control check of plantings on Okepuha station has been undertaken. After a wet winter and a reasonably wet summer our native trees on Okepuha station have stood up in pretty good shape. Survival rate is estimated to be around 90% which is an excellent result.  Even the fence lines have held up over the wet winter and the station is looking great with the addition of the plantings. Richard and Hannah are enjoying their new environment and are keen to undertake further environmental work.



Te Mahia school help increase Blue Penguin colony on Waikawa

A little blue penguin colony has inhabited one of the penguin boxes built by Te Mahia school students on Waikawa (Portland Island).  Local Department of Conservation ranger Helen Jonas took 5 of the surplus nesting boxes built by the students and installed them on the island.  Due to their small size the Little blue penguin species are vulnerable to predation and respond well to off shore islands like Waikawa where they are predator free.

This is an exciting development for the The Whangawehi Catchment Management Group.   The group are hopeful that the increase in colony numbers on the island will one day help colonise the 50 nesting boxes built and installed by students along the Whangawehi valley.  The vision of bringing back species such as the Little Blue Penguin was started by local kuia and koumatua.  Kathleen Mato remembers flourishing blue penguin colonies along the Whangawehi valley in the 1970’s and wants them to return to their formal glory again.





Guided Walks and Market displays

The Whangawehi Catchment Management group have been busy over the summer period showcasing the work they have been doing to the rest of the community.  The group displayed a promotional tent at the Wairoa A & P show and one of the initial summer Mahia markets.

Due to poor weather conditions two out of the four guided walks through the catchment area had to be cancelled.  The other two walks both had low attendance.  Their is a necessity to review our summer walking programme.  Efforts will now focus on working with the New Zealand Access Commission to push for a permanent walkway through the catchment area and to finish off completion work on the shelter.