End of era for For­est and Bird

South Waikato News - - Your Health - LUKE KIRKEBY

Things have lit­er­ally gone full cir­cle for the South Waikato For­est and Bird branch which has now closed.

The con­ser­va­tion group, which has been in­volved in dozens of lo­cal and na­tional projects since it was founded in 1987, de­cided to close late last month due to fall­ing mem­ber­ship num­bers.

It had been in­volved in projects in­clud­ing the pur­chase of Jim Bar­nett Re­serve, plant­ing of thou­sands of trees, native bird sur­veys, Gi­ant Weta res­cue and pos­sum con­trol.

Mem­bers will now once again join the Hamilton-based Waikato branch of the na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tion which was how things were be­fore the lo­cal branch was founded.

Long time mem­bers Jack and Anne Groos, who are club sec­re­tary and chair re­spec­tively, said they were a lit­tle sad to see things come to an end.

‘‘At the peak we had about 150 mem­bers and now we have about 49 and most of them are el­derly, have work com­mit­ments, or they are just sup­port­ers who don’t phys­i­cally come walk­ing or to work­ing bees,’’ Anne said.

‘‘There is no one to take the chair on as ev­ery­one is in their 80s and the young ones are more in­ter­ested in moun­tain bik­ing and things like that. It means there is no point ar­rang­ing and pay­ing for speak­ers to come if there is only go­ing to be six to eight peo­ple. You just can’t do that.’’

The cou­ple said mem­bers would now be wel­come to at­tend meet­ings in Ro­torua or Hamilton.

‘‘Join­ing Waikato means there is more ex­per­tise so it is a good thing re­ally and it made sense be­cause Waikato was where we started from,’’ Jack said.

‘‘It doesn’t mean we will not still also have a proac­tive group here be­cause we will. We will still be in­volved in tree plant­ing and with the Pu­taruru Walk­ing Group and any­thing that comes up we are likely to still let the South Waikato Dis­trict Coun­cil know,’’ Anne said.

Anne said there was no rea­son why some­one couldn’t restart the South Waikato branch at a later date if they wished.

‘‘It re­ally started be­cause peo­ple were in­ter­ested in tramp­ing and walk­ing and got in­volved in var­i­ous con­ser­va­tion projects.

‘‘The found­ing mem­bers would go to Hamilton for meet­ings and it was there that it was sug­gested they start a South Waikato branch.’’

The im­pact of the Health and Safety at Work Act on the South Waikato Dis­trict Coun­cil was dis­cussed dur­ing its Au­dit and Risk Com­mit­tee Meet­ing on Thurs­day.

The act came into ef­fect in April af­ter the Gov­ern­ment’s Health and Safety Re­form Bill was passed fol­low­ing the rec­om­men­da­tions of the In­de­pen­dent Task­force on Work­place Health and Safety.

The aim is to see New Zealand’s work­place in­jury and death doll re­duced by 25 per cent by 2020 with an em­pha­sis on ev­ery­one in the work­place be­ing re­spon­si­ble for health and safety.

The coun­cil has now em­ployed for­mer Lakes Dis­trict Health Board health and safety ad­vi­sor Bron­wyn Pearce to fa­cil­i­tate health and safety for the coun­cil.

Au­dit and Risk Com­mit­tee chair­per­son Glenn Snel­grove said rather than just com­ply­ing with the new law the coun­cil needed to de­velop a cul­ture of health and safety.

‘‘It means it is not just hav­ing to tick boxes all the time,’’ he said.

Snel­grove said it was im­por­tant coun­cil­lors sup­ported chief ex­ec­u­tive Craig Hobbs in the area so that other staff and con­trac­tors would also de­velop the cul­ture.


South Waikato For­est and Bird mem­bers tak­ing part in a work­ing bee at Mokai­haha.

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