End of era for Forest and Bird
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.