Conservation Festival impresses
Northland regional councillor Mike Finlayson was impressed by the inaugural Conservation Festival on Paihia’s Village Green.
The festival, which featured delicacies including mutton and possum ‘possages’, attracted guest speakers from as far away as Canterbury, a plethora of community groups, and a posse of conservation dogs trained to sniff out stoats, kiwi, and even Argentine ants.
The event was organised by Stella Schmid, of Bay Bush Action, and Papatu¯a¯nuku Earth Mother Tours, to bring together the many different groups involved in conservation in the North, Mr Finlayson saying it was part of a brilliant weekend-long illustration of the care and concern that local people were demonstrating for their environment.
“I was amazed at how many different groups were passionately involved in protecting their environment in one way or another,” he said.
“Bay Bush Action is a team of about 25 dedicated trappers protecting native species on 250ha out the back of Paihia. But they realise there is a huge amount of work still to be done, so they organised this event for the community in the hope that we can band together and try to ‘turn the curve’ in declining kiwi and other native species.”
Kiwi Coast, which was supported by the NRC, now had 122 Landcare groups working together along Northland’s east coast to provide a safe habitat for Kiwi and all other native creatures.
It had employed a second co-ordinator to support outreach into the centre and west of Northland, that weren’t currently receiving the attention they deserved.
Anyone who wanted to support or be involved in that expansion should contact Andrew Mentor ([email protected]wicoast.org.nz).
Meanwhile, Forest and Bird had a ‘wasp woman’ at the festival, who highlighted the damage that German and common wasps could do.
“Small predators are not often taken seriously enough, and it’s obvious that we need to do more to curb these critters,” Mr Finlayson said.
“The good news is that Project Island Song, which is bringing native birds back to islands in the Bay, is so successful that kakariki and other birds that have been reintroduced after many years’ absence, are breeding so well that they are spreading out and often coming back to the mainland.
“We are so fortunate to have these predator-free islands, and holiday-makers should take extra care not to have rats or other nasties on board when they visit them this summer,” Mr Finlayson said.
DoC conservation dog handlers Miriam Ritchie (Whanga¯ rei), Fin Buchanan and Adeline Bosman (Auckland), with their canine colleagues.