Colin Ry­der, con­ser­va­tion champ

Re­tire­ment projects aid na­ture ar­eas in cap­i­tal

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By JIM CHIPP

He has black­mailed politi­cians and been threat­ened with dis­mem­ber­ment, but Colin Ry­der wouldn’t have it any other way.

The re­tired John­sonville ac­coun­tant has led the charge on some ma­jor con­ser­va­tion bat­tles, in­clud­ing the con­tentious south coast ma­rine re­serve.

Ry­der spent a ca­reer ne­go­ti­at­ing en­ergy con­tracts and work­ing for the De­part­ment of Cor­rec­tions.

Since re­tir­ing he has ap­plied the same skills to con­ser­va­tion projects on Mana and MatiuSomes is­lands, at Bar­ing Head and more re­cently at Watt’s Penin­sula in Mi­ra­mar.

He has flown very much un­der the pub­lic radar while de­liv­er­ing a heavy­weight con­tri­bu­tion to con­ser­va­tion right across the re­gion.

It took 17 years of plan­ning and ne­go­ti­a­tions be­fore the 854-hectare Ta­put­eranga Ma­rine Re­serve was fi­nally ap­proved.

As con­venor of the Ma­rine Re­serve Coali­tion, it was Ry­der who talked to each stake­holder and proved to the Min­is­ter of Con­ser­va­tion that it had sig­nif­i­cant value and com­mu­nity sup­port.

Hav­ing put the case to the min­is­ter it was a case of ‘‘ black­mail­ing’’ politi­cians to get it ap­proved, he said.

‘‘That’s all part of the game, re­ally.’’

Some lo­cal fish­er­men grum­bled and one even threat­ened to pull off his arms and legs.

For­tu­nately he was fool­ish enough to give his name and ad­dress, and the po­lice were able to in­ter­vene.

‘‘ Quite a few pas­sions were aroused each way,’’ Ry­der said.

‘‘These things are al­ways con­tentious when peo­ple have to give some­thing up, which is un­der­stand­able.’’

Be­cause the re­serve was ac­ces­si­ble and very close to the cap­i­tal, he ex­pected one day it would be­come a ma­jor tourist at­trac­tion.

Soon af­ter join­ing For­est and Bird, Ry­der ap­plied for Con­ser­va­tion Corps fund­ing to at­tack Mana Is­land’s pest prob­lems.

He got $200,000, 11 young­sters and a su­per­vi­sor for 11 months.

Mice were the only pest on the is­land but quite a big one, he said.

‘‘At the peak of the sea­son there would be any­thing from five to 15 mil­lion mice on the is­land.’’

Bait sta­tions were laid on a 25-me­tre grid over 90 per cent of the is­land and then a he­li­copter drop fin­ished the job.

The cam­paign was 100 per cent suc­cess­ful and no mice re­main.

It was at the time the world’s big­gest erad­i­ca­tion project, and is still one of the big­gest mice erad­i­ca­tions, he said.

Ry­der has also ap­plied his fundrais­ing skills to con­ser­va­tion projects on Matiu/Somes Is­land mainly for bird and lizard translo­ca­tions to the is­land and he was look­ing for fund­ing for other projects there, in­clud­ing a new vis­i­tor re­cep­tion space.

When land at Bar­ing Head un­ex­pect­edly be­came avail­able he leapt into ac­tion.

The prop­erty was up for a mort­gagee sale when both the landowner and the fi­nance com­pany were bankrupted at the same.

Dur­ing the ten­der pe­riod, Ry­der raised money from the De­part­ment of Con­ser­va­tion, the Na­ture Her­itage Fund, the Hutt City Coun­cil and got $200,000 from an anony­mous bene­fac­tor. Then he per­suaded the re­gional coun­cil to stump up the rest and buy the land.

He helped found the Friends of Bar­ing Head who have worked with the coun­cil weed­ing, plant­ing, and train­ing vol­un­teers to trap pests over the whole block.

Ry­der per­son­ally ran a trap line to help pro­tect vul­ner­a­ble banded dot­terel, catch­ing the ma­jor preda­tors – hedge­hogs, as well as ferrets and a few cats.

His last big project has been Watts Penin­sula in Mi­ra­mar, above the old Shel­ley Bay air force base.

The De­fence Force had owned the land, which had both con­ser­va­tion and her­itage value from lay­ers of mil­i­tary use dat­ing from pre-Euro­pean times.

‘‘They wanted to cover it up with up­mar­ket hous­ing which re­ally would have munted the in­trin­sic value of the area,’’ Ry­der said.

The Watts Penin­sula Coali­tion was formed, and with some help from Sir Peter Jackson, the govern­ment was per­suaded that the 70 hectares should re­main in crown own­er­ship.

‘‘Watt’s Penin­sula is quite dif­fer­ent to other stuff be­cause most of the value is her­itage,’’ he said.

The coali­tion wants the area to be man­aged lo­cally by a trust, with the historic as­sets re­stored to a state where they can sur­vive long term and be en­joyed.

It has for­ti­fi­ca­tions that date back to the Rus­sian scare of the 1800s and the mil­i­tary road that con­nects them is the only one of its type in New Zealand, Ry­der said.

Ry­der has two daugh­ters and a son, and one grand­daugh­ter.

His real pas­sion is craft beer and deal­ing with Govern­ment and coun­cils was just a hobby, al­beit one that made the most of his skills, which were some­times un­der­es­ti­mated.

‘‘When peo­ple in my po­si­tion are talk­ing to lo­cal coun­cil bu­reau­crat some­times you feel they don’t take you se­ri­ously, which can be a bad mis­take.’’

Al­most arm­less: Con­ser­va­tion­ist Colin Ry­der.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.