New QEII covenants on Pongaroa Station

From Malcolm Rutherford, QEII rep for the District :

It’s always interesting doing the first monitoring visit on a new registered covenant.  The fences are up, and the stock is out, and the next job for me as the local QEII rep is to set up some photo points. I pick a range of spots where we will see change over time. Around the edges where there is plenty of light there is a very rapid response and within a year there is a noticeable improvement in the condition of the vegetation.  In contrast, on soils that have been compacted by cattle, and in areas that are a bit darker it can take much longer with some species not coming back for a few decades if at all. At Pongaroa there are small seedlings coming up already, so hopefully they can get a good start and start to form the understory, and the next generation of canopy trees.
The two new covenant blocks at Pongaroa Station keep stock out of 2.5 km of stream in the Whangawehi and Wainui catchments. There is also a major revegetation program planned.
One treat of carrying out a monitoring visit is finding interesting species On this visit I came across an epiphytic orchid called Drymoanthus adversus. It isn’t much to look at and can be hard to spot, but if you get close enough at this time of year you’ll see it has quite stunning flowers – you’ll need a magnifying glass to have a good look though as they are tiny.

AGM held – A year to be proud of

The WCMG Annual General Meeting was held on Saturday 2nd November 2019 with the usual committee volunteers in attendance.  The Chairman highlighted the main events that took place over the year.  The main key points were:

  • 15 ha retired in Mangatupae
  • 16,000 trees planted, including 4 ha of native bush retired.  We also retired 2 ha wetland and established 6,000 trees during a well-attended community planting day with over 50 participants.
  • 15 ha retired on Pongaroa Station including 5 ha of native bush and the creation of a new wetland.
  • We were one of the finalists in the International River Award.
  • The development of an Easement for the Walkway which will be finalised in January 2020.
  • Formalization of a partnership for a research project led by Beef & Lamb based around regenerative farming.

A year to be proud of – looking forward to another productive year ahead

During the meeting the committee unveiled the cabinet designed and built by Chris Wilson.  It is planned that the cabinet will be based at Mahia and house our awards and trophies.  The cabinet (waka) will be displayed at various agencies over a period of time to showcase what our groups’ collaborative efforts can achieve.

Last year’s committee was re-elected and we look forward to the coming year’s projects and milestones.

The Whangawehi competes at the International River Awards in Brisbane

The Whangawehi Catchment Management Group almost took out an international river prize at an event held in Brisbane on 22 October.

The Whangawehi group was nominated as a finalist for the 2019 Thiess International Riverprize Awards ceremony held in Brisbane, Australia.

Feedback from the judging panel indicated that the Whangawehi model was something unique and to be considered as an example worldwide. However, the group was formed too recently to base its achievements on decades of monitoring data. “This nomination confirms that the group is operating at an International level and that’s a great encouragement for all our Whangawehi community,” says Whangawehi project manager Nic Caviale-Delzescaux.

“We were rubbing shoulders with inspiring initiatives that show how integrated river basin management can restore and protect rivers, wetlands, lakes and estuaries,” adds Nic.

The Whangawehi group was competing against two large-scale river restoration projects based in America, the Chicago River Restoration project and the James River Initiative.
The James river project was awarded the 2019 International River Awards acknowledging 40 years of active work and well-documented outcomes.

The International Riverprize is the world’s foremost award in river basin management. It recognises and rewards organisations making waves in the sustainable management of the world’s rivers, whether at the grassroots or transboundary level.

Previous winners and finalists have received widespread recognition, built new partnerships, shared their knowledge and won other awards following Riverprize, becoming part of a network of river practitioners and experts from around the world.

Well done to you all for your hard work, dedication and ongoing support

2019 school programme summary

Jenni and Rae have been busy engaging with the school community. Here is a summary of the work they have taken part of. Well done and congratulations for your commitment to the cause.

This year, the school’s application to be a Predator Free School was accepted by Predator Free New Zealand Trust, sponsored by KiwiBank. Every year they select up to twenty schools to be part of of Predator Free Schools programme. This programme has a focus on teaching kids about what makes NZ’s native species special and how introduced predators impact their survival. It also encourages them to take collective action for the care of the environment. Traps, tracking tunnels and other resources are provided to enable successful programmes. Jenni has supported teachers this year  through WCMG and Enviroschools.

Other Workshops, related to Kaitiakitanga, have included:

Bird surveys in the school grounds and research about local birds. Related to this was a plant survey.

Tracking tunnels made and baited to analyse what pests are visiting Te Mahia School. These were followed by commercial tracking tunnels. Both showed that rats and mice are the predators to deal to so far.

A bug motel constructed by Juniors, to encourage birds in the school grounds, for a free smorgasbord.

Research about pests and predators and their effect on local birdlife and insect life. A highlight related to this was the visit Bree and her handler, Helen, made to the school, class by class. Bree is a Conservation Dog, trained to sniff out Whio (blue duck). Helen showed how well trained and reliable Bree is.bree modeled  her various uniform garbs and Helen answered questions about why Bree is needed.

The years 4 to 8 students visited Electric Village where they participated in a workshop about Energy – sustainable / renewable energy forms compared to forms of energy that contribute to Climate Change or use non-renewable resources. They followed up in class during Term 3 with Science learning on this topic. In November they will participate in the Great Solar Cooker Challenge with other Enviroschools.

Making ruru (morepork) nesting boxes, to be installed in Term 4 on large trees in the school grounds. The students worked in house groups to produce their own ruru nesting box.  They will watch closely next nesting season to see if they have made it safe for ruru to feed at school and raise owlets. The technology challenge is to decide how to install the boxes effectively on the trees they have selected.  One box is destined for Whangawehi.

Other workshops have been focused on Tūrangawaewae.

Tūrangawaewae are places and feeling where we feel especially empowered and connected. They are our foundation, our place in the world, our home.

In preparation for the School Gala clay tiles and magnets were created from clay. The children had to make their clay work relevant to Mahia.

At Te Mahia School there are six house groups which have been established at the school for a long time.  Over the years the significance of the names of the house groups has been almost forgotten.  The students have been researching the relevance of their house group names ( maunga in the area), to them and their whanau, and they are preparing to create murals in Term four for an outside wall of the library.

Tuia 250 is an important aspect of the concept of Tūrangawaewae. Given that Te Mahia is the final visiting point (15 to 19 December) for the Tuia 250 flotilla  https://mch.govt.nz/tuia250 the students are preparing for this during Term 4.

Pongaroa Station update

A lot of work has been happening on Pongaroa Station with 20 ha of bush/stream retired and a 2 ha wetland reclaimed from the farmland.

A huge thank you to Bevan Farm Manager and his team for undertaking such a challenging work. The video clip attached below highlights the work done so far. Enjoy the viewing and don’t forget to subscribe if you want to receive our latest updates. Thank you

Conservation work – Pongaroa Station 2019

Whangawehi walkway survey

The field work regarding the Whangawehi walkway survey was completed on Tuesday the 8th of October. It took a couple of attempts to cover the full length of the walkway. The computer work can now start. A big thank you to Kevin Taylor from Survey Gisborne Limited and his team (Allan) for assisting us with this work. A big thank you too, to the New Zealand Access Commission for providing financial and technical support. We will keep you informed on the next steps.

Massey Uni Tree trial update

On Wednesday the 9th of October, Georgia came to assess the site. She had been warned that a lamb had gone into the planting and that some trees had been nibbled ! The preference went to the Mahoe and the griselinia as well as the Five fingers. Most trees are recovering but some had to be replaced. The site is reasonably steep and hard so the next few months will be difficult and certainly a good way of demonstrating which specie can adapt to a hill country environment.

We will keep you posted