School workshop on rocky shores

On March 28, Te Mahia school pupils headed off to Auroa Point at low tide to investigate the diversity of life on the coast near Whangawehi River Mouth. Identifying the names of various sea stars, crabs, seaweeds and other creatures proved challenging but engaging. On the grassy bank, they completed our recording sheets. Back at school the seniors heard about how much more there was to be found and the density of kaimoana 30 years ago compared to today. They prepared to graph their findings.

The juniors realised that there were a lot more different creatures in the rock pools than they expected. They made salt dough animals and seaweeds, focusing on features like number of legs etc. The workshop will be extended at school in the next few days. Well done for your mahi.


Te Wai Maori Trust visits Whangawehi

Just recently we were privileged to have Te Wai Maori Trust come and meet the Whangawehi community.  Te Wai Maori are an important funder of the project and have been involved since the onset.   We are most grateful for there loyal and ongoing support. 

Graeme and Diana attended our meeting and got the opportunity to share a cup of tea with our members. We took them for a tour starting with Pongarao Station-where from a lookout point they were able to measure the scale of the restoration project.

We then drove onto Pat and Sue O’Brien’s property which we accessed from the back of the farm. We stopped along the way to explain the work already done on the wetland and on the Whare. The visitors were most impressed by the size and quality of the plantings. We ended our tour on Okepuha Station where Richard took us around his most recent planting project.

The day went very well.  Thank you to Dianna and Graeme for visiting our project.  Your ongoing support of our project is much appreciated.


Autumn photos

The autumn is a good time to take landscape photos. The weeds are starting to dye off (some of them) and the trees show up more with the winters lights.

Our trees are growing all along the Whangawehi stream. Have a look at the photos used as monitoring evidences of the transformation we have been part of.  Certainly a mark in the landscape to be proud of.


Richard Coops is extending his network of traps

Rod Dickson from Hawkes Bay Regional Council recently visited Richard Coops on Okepuha Station.  A few years ago Richard started off with a few traps but is now extending his network of traps.  In the upcoming days, his traps will be GPSed and then loaded onto a cloud application “”, a great reporting and collaborative platform.  This will enable Richard to record trap catches from his mobile phone via an app or from his computer.  These traps will be laid out around the newly restored/planted area where we hope to encourage more bird life to the area. Richard has already contacted to say that he needs more traps! Well done Richard.

Finalising the Whangawehi walkway agreement

On the 28th March, the Whangawehi landowners gathered to meet with Nicola Henderson from the New Zealand Access Commission. The meeting was about finalizing the final route for the walkway in which all the landowners would agree too and feel comfortable with.

The day got underway at the Whangawehi boat ramp.  Present on the day was Bevan Parker Manager of Pongaroa Station, Graham Douglas Forest Manager for Grandy Lake Forest, Malcolm Smith from DOC and Nicola Henderson from the NZ Access Commission.

We headed off towards the top of the mountains and accessed different track options. We were amazed to see that Graham Douglas had cut a new track and even organised a car park area along the Kinikini Road. The group also accessed another track that connects with the DOC reserve. The later option would offer a loop track starting at the reserve through the forest and finishing at Kinikini Road.

The next step will be to receive written agreement from all land owners to survey the route and create an easement that will be recorded on a land title.

We will keep you posted on future developments.

Debris dam construction on Taharoa Trust

The Taharoa team have decided to make the most of the low water levels in the Mangatupae stream by constructing a series of debris dams.  The Mangatupae catchment is actively eroding and the stream bed has dropped by 3 metres over the past 30 years.  The goal of the debris dam is to help stabilise and rebuild the stream bed by trapping the silt.  This structure will be just one of the many tools used to reduce erosion.  Last year, 2 bush blocks were fenced off and retired (5 ha).  This coming winter we will attempt to fence off another 5 ha bush block with a fence line bladed to retire the stream.

Further up in the headwaters, a new soil conservation trial is underway with native trees protected by a new guard.  Our hope is that all these tools will contribute towards finding a positive outcome for our freshwater quality and our biodiversity.  Erosion control will be a long term battle so we will keep you posted on any further developments.


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.