Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Kia Whārite - Mangapurua, Rat & Stoat Control Operation

From 31/8/2012, the Department of Conservation, Whanganui Area Office, intend to apply baits containing sodium fluoroacetate (1080) over 31,000 ha of the Whanganui National Park and surrounding reserves to control possums for the protection of forest ecosystems. The operational area is between; the Heao Stream, ridge to the east of the Mangapurua Stream and Whakahoro the southern boundary is the Whanganui and Tangarākau Rivers.
Method of control: Cereal baits containing the pesticide 1080 will be aerially sown throughout the block.  Poison baits are green cylindrical pellets about 3 cm long made from cereal.  Prior to the poison drop non-toxic prefeed baits will be aerially sown.

This pesticide is poisonous to humans and domestic animals.
DO NOT touch bait                                                                        
 WATCH CHILDREN at all times                                                
 DO NOT EAT animals from this area                                           
 • DO NOT allow DOGS access to animal carcasses. Observe these rules whenever you see warning signs placed at the public access ways in the above areas.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Kiwi aversion training day in Whanganui

Increasing kiwi numbers in and around Whanganui National Park is one of the many goals of Kia Wharite.

Department of Conservation staff are running an avian avoidance training day on Sunday July 22nd 2012 at Gordon Park Scenic Reserve in Whanganui as part of their six monthly training days.

If you own a dog be it hunting, working or pet we encourage you to book them in. Particularly those dogs that are used in areas where kiwi are present.

Dog should be taught basic obedience techniques prior to the avian avoidance training. As part of the training each dog is walked through a short bush course where kiwi carcasses and props are set up.  The dog is walked through the course and if it shows interest in the props by approaching and making contact a quick static shock is delivered which teaches the dog to avoid the props.  The dog is then taken back past the props where it is observed and certified if avoidance behaviour is shown. The training takes approximately 15 minutes.
Points to remember
  • Dogs can and do kill kiwi and other ground dwelling birds, it is natural instinctual behaviour
  • Any breed of dog has the potential to kill kiwi, even the family pet
  • Dog owners can help reduce the threat to kiwi by taking responsibility for their dogs and ensuring they are trained and obedient
  • Dogs must return for retraining and testing annually for certification to remain current
  • Avian aversion training is a good tool and reduces the risk to kiwi but there is no substitute for spending quality time training your dog.

More information on how to save kiwi can be found on the BNZ Save the Kiwi website.  Go into the draw to win a trip for you and a mate and four dogs by getting your dog avoidance trained before the 31st August 2012 (full terms and conditions on website) 

To book your dog in for the training day or for more information call the Whanganui Area Office 06 349 2100 or email

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Whio Release

Students from Orautoha School had an experience of a lifetime recently and two of the students, Neihana Hall (11 yrs) and Quintin Rapana (12 yrs) played a special part in releasing four whio (blue duck) into the Manganui o te Ao River on Monday.

The whio were released near Ruatiti Domain (Raetihi) after spending most of there young life in the South Island where the eggs were hatched as part of a captive breeding programme at Orana Wildlife Park in Christchurch and then reared at Peacock Springs Wildlife Park, also in Christchurch.

They arrived in the North Island on the 23rd April and spent their first week in Palmerton North Esplanade under the watchful eye of Peter Russell the Esplanade Avery keeper. On Monday 30th April local kaumatua Hokio Ngataierua-Tinirau blessed the birds near Ruatiti Domain along with iwi representatives, Orautoha school kids, DOC staff, Esplanade staff and a few locals. The students and staff gently released the four whio into the crystal clear waters of the Manganui o te Ao, now there permanent home.

The Manganui o te Ao is one of eight critical recovery sites for whio in New Zealand. Conservation of these populations is imperative if the whio is to be saved from extinction. DOC, Iwi, Horizons Regional Council and Central North Island Blue Duck Charitable Trust and local landowners are key partners under a project called Kia Wharite. Local landowners have continued to support the programme with access to their land and protection of bush blocks and river margins, and local schools Orautoha & Kaitieke each manage stoat traps near the school and support whio habitat by increasing riparian planting along their streams and being actively involved in wetland restoration.

The whio is a unique threatened species of waterfowl endemic to New Zealand and has no close relative anywhere else in the world. Around 50 pairs of whio are protected from stoats and cats along the Manganui o te Ao and Retaruke Rivers as part of Kia Wharite.

Photo From left; Belinda Phillips, Ellen Beattie, Quintin Rapana, Neihana Hall

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Restoring the balance

Many of us take for granted the unique landscape and wildlife that characterises New Zealand. But organsations like DOC and Horizons Regional Council know first hand the challenges involved in maintaining the balance needed for our unique flora and fauna to flourish.

DOC, together with Horizons Regional Council, Whanganui iwi and private landowners, has been working in the remote forests around Whanganui National Park to manage biodiversity on a scale not previously attempted in New Zealand.

The Kia Wharite project, as it’s known to DOC and Horizons, spans over 180,000 hectares and includes a mixture of private land and parts of the Whanganui National Park, the second largest lowland forest in the North Island. This remote area is home to the largest population of North Island brown kiwi and plays host to a number of native bird and plant species.

The introduction of possums, goats and other predators has threatened the health of the forest and put the long-term future of its inhabitants in jeopardy. Recognising the importance of this area, Kia Wharite was established in 2008 to improve land, water and biodiversity health, and enhance community and economic well-being. The largest project of its kind in New Zealand in terms of scale and scope, it has already achieved national species protection targets.

“DOC, Horizons and AHB are undertaking extensive possum control operations, with over 150,000 hectares now being managed for possums. As a result the canopy is improving which is good news for the birds and plants we want to encourage,” says Craig Mitchell, Horizons’ group manager environmental management .

“There’s also been a lot of stoat and cat control carried out and we now have approximately 50 pairs of whio [native blue duck] within protected areas of the Manganui o te Ao and Retaruke Rivers.”

Department of Conservation area manager Dr Nic Peet says that although it’s early days the signs are looking promising for the kiwi population as well.

“We have just completed baseline monitoring of the kiwi population which will allow us to monitor changes in the population over the next three years but the number of reports of kiwi calling we are receiving from people in the area is very encouraging,” says Dr Peet.

Dr Peet said that kiwi aversion training has also been completed with over 200 dogs in the area to reduce kiwi kills by dogs and such training will become a requirement for any hunters using dogs in the area.

It’s not just the environment that’s benefiting from the project though. Horizons and DOC believe there are positive economic returns to be had from the project as well.

Horizons, DOC, the Ministry of Economic Development, Te Puni Kokiri and the Hinengakau Development Trust have supported the establishment of a training and business development unit, Te Amo Taiao which has seen 10 trainees develop their skills in pest control and biodiversity management.

Through the Kia Wharite project Te Amo Taiao has been able to establish itself as a stand alone business unit with 10 staff, allowing the employment of local people to carry out fieldwork alongside DOC and Horizons staff.

Mr Mitchell said that the improvements in the areas are also proving to be a draw card for visitors to the area through the Mountains to Sea Cycle Trail and Te Araroa Walkway.

“Healthy native forest and the chance to see blue duck or listen to kiwi are attracting tourists to the area which in turn helps provide economic return to the wider area.”

Chair of Horizons Environment Committee Jill White said she is pleased with the progress made to date. Cr White will be part of a delegation visiting the area later this month.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the achievements of Kia Wharite and what can be accomplished when organisations join forces and work collaboratively,” said Cr White.