Photo: Anna White

Wai Care Water Testing

Amelia Hamilton has taken over this role, to do testing 4 times a year, at Waimatuku (Hamilton’s Gap)

Convenor's report AGM 2019

Awhitu Landcare AGM 15 June 2019

Convenors Report

In 2019 there has been much energy in the pest control space as the government’s predator free and the council’s pest free strategies have gained traction across the region, bringing with them an increase in both support and funding for community-based organisations such as ours.

We are extremely grateful to the Auckland City Council and Franklin community board for their support this year, and especially to Michael Ngatai who has really listened to us and quietly and effectively supplied us with much needed pest control supplies, a new storage shed, drainage and water supply improvements for the nursery, access to council expertise and specialists. The list goes on.

Our pest control programme, funded by Auckland City Council until June 2020, grows from strength to strength. Our pest control contractor Pete Shepherd isn’t here to thank in person, but his efforts, supported by Martin Robertson and Steve Sherie have seen possum control effectively maintained this year. Some 600 contractor-managed bait stations are matched by an equivalent number of community-managed stations. The catch from 26 Cyanide runs in this period shows that the downward trend continues in possum populations on those rugged and inaccessible west coast margins. Our mustelid trapping programme is expanding 3-fold with the addition of 200 new traps. We are now better resourced to support landowners with feral cat trapping.

Auckland Council recently commissioned an RTC (residual trap count) on the peninsula. This is an independent measure of the effectiveness of the possum control programme, and the first such audit in several years. The results were heartening to say the least – an average of 5.98 % across the peninsula. This data provides Landcare and the pest control team a solid basis for planning the pest control effort for the next 12 months.

But our predator free goals cannot be achieved without the support and engagement of the Awhitu Community. We are very excited to announce that we have recently won Auckland Council funding, in a fiercely contested round, to support landowners and community volunteers in their pest control efforts. We’ll be rolling this out over the next 6 months and more information about specific initiatives will be communicated shortly. But simply put, our vision is that the Awhitu landowners and residents who want to make a difference will have the support and resources they need to contribute to the conservation effort on the peninsula.

And in this vein, I’d like to acknowledge Mick Grantham who has spear-headed a rat trapping pilot project with the Orua Bay community. This is a fantastic example a of grass roots, community led initiative, and is a great model to take forward.


We are very proud of Awhitu Landcare’s nursery whose mission is to supply eco-sourced plants for revegetation projects on the peninsula, while providing a community space where volunteers can meet and work. This year the nursery, managed so capably by Sigrid Sharplin, and supported by Jill Mclean while Sigrid was on parental leave, has raised 12,000 plants. These trees and shrubs are propagated entirely from locally sourced seed and are destined for some 15 local revegetation projects.

Plant numbers are down a little on the last financial year due to some unexpected challenges. A Myrtle rust infestation last year seriously hampered the running of the nursery for some months and water supply issues arising from the drought this summer resulted in the loss of some plants. But we have bounced back and the nursery is flourishing. I encourage you to drop in on a Tuesday or Thursday to say hello, or even better to stop for an hour or two and join the crew at the potting up bench.

We are blessed to have such a skilled and dedicated team. Our Resource Centre Manager Sarah Williams is talented, passionate and has a level of expertise in conservation that we are so lucky to have. Sigrid Sharplin our Nursery manager is so knowledgeable and skilled in the ways of both plants and people. Pete Shepherd our pest control specialist is respected and loved by the residents of the peninsula. And we are supported by many, many volunteers. Those who join the committee and share the work of keeping the organisation ticking over, those who support the nursery volunteer days. And most importantly our members; the residents and the landowners who care enough about our unique and beautiful environment to set a trap, or plant out a stream bank, or keep the climbing asparagus under control in their bush block.

This afternoon we are saying farewell to more than 50 years of combined service and dedication to the Awhitu Landcare committee.

Alison Marsen and her husband Gary were founding members of Awhitu Landcare. Alison has been a hardworking and dedicated member of the committee for 18 years, and has been both the convenor and the secretary at different times. I have leant heavily on Alison this year, and am very appreciative that she agreed to stay on for ‘just one more year.’

Margaret Magkill has been a member for some 15 years and a committee member for many of those. Margaret brings a keen mind to the committee and tireless effort to the nursery. And she has assured me she will continue to be there come potting up day in the nursery.

Jenny Hinton, likewise has been a Landcare member for 15 years, a staunch nursery volunteer and committee member for many years. I have always appreciated Jenny’s thoughtful approach and local insight. And I know we will continue to see Jenny in the nursery.

Christine Wormald, is a long time resident with significant experience in conservation projects both here and in Australia. Although we are sorry to see Chris step down from the committee where her practical approach is much appreciated, we are very grateful that Chris will continue to volunteer at our market stall and Saturday opening of the resource centre.


In summary, Awhitu Landcare has ended the financial year in good shape and good heart. We are busy, slightly overwhelmed at times, but very enthusiastic about the way forward.


Alison Brown


Latest News

With the dry spell finally receding, we are grateful for Auckland Council’s ongoing support for Landcare, particularly including the supply of another water tank to help prevent a repeat of the water supply issues experienced this summer. Council have also provided 200 more bait stations and committed to providing more DoC200 mustelid traps in the near future to continue the clearance of these voracious pests from the peninsula, so if any landowner has a problem with weasels, stoats and/or ferrets, please call us for advice and solutions, including how to make the best use of these most welcome traps. Also, please remember that in order to remain effective, bait stations need to be replenished regularly. To help with this need, in addition to our regular hours of 8:30 to 12:30 Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, we will open on Saturday morning, May 11th from 9 to 11am for an extra chance to get the bait supplies you require.

Also on the pest control front, we plan in the next issue of Peninsularama to include the results of the council initiative Residual Trap Catch (RTC), a programme using Dept of Conservation protocols to determine possum densities in the area and monitor the effectiveness of possum control efforts up and down the peninsula. RTCs are regularly carried out under strict guidelines to provide standard, unbiased results – more next month.

With potting up almost finished at the nursery, we must give a huge Thank You to all of our wonderful volunteers who responded to our urgent call for labour, including both long-term regulars and new workers, whom we welcome with open arms and hope to see become regular members of our Landcare family. New seedlings are popping up and looking healthy and bright. This, of course, is a timely reminder of the need for anyone wanting plants for the next planting season to get orders in as early as possible.

Finally, for anyone wondering how the planting in is progressing at Te Mahanihani, Ports of Auckland have opted to plant the area themselves this winter, as the site is deemed too steep for volunteer workers. Our thanks to all who were gearing up to assist in this great work.

The Landcare Team

Convenor's 2018 Annual Report

The last 12 months have seen Landcare continue with the two main focuses of their business; pest control work and the growing of eco sourced plants in our nursery.  Under the management of Sigrid Sharplin, the nursery has continued to thrive with approximately 15,000 plants being grown from eco-sourced seeds. Over ten and a half thousand plants were grown to order for revegetation projects by thirteen local land owners. Two local community groups, Beachcare and The Lighthouse Trust were donated 530 plants to assist with respective planting projects.  

There have been some challenges in the nursery over the past 12 months. The drainage has been a problem over the past two years making it difficult for staff and volunteers working in the layout areas. This issue is now well on the way to being remedied with only the east side of the layout area to be redone this coming year.  Our thanks to Anna White for completing the funding applications which have allowed this remedial work to be done. To the many volunteers who have attended working bees to assist with this drainage work, a very big thank you.  

Sigrid and her team are very innovative in ways to improve the nursery and plant health. The construction of capillary beds for root trainers proved very successful.  Sigrid and Sarah have completed a nursery operations manual. This has all procedures used in the nursery clearly set out using best practice guidelines. With Sigrid commencing six months parental leave recently, this document is proving invaluable for consistency with the ongoing management within the nursery. We have appointed a local woman, Jill McLean to the position of manager while Sigrid is on leave. 

Our biggest challenge within the nursery to date was the discovery of myrtle rust in late April, immediately prior to our planned release of plants to landowners. A huge thank you to Sigrid and Sarah for the very professional way in which they managed the rigorous process put in place by Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI). The infestation proved not to be wide spread and the nursery was cleared for business as usual by beginning of June.  

It was always envisaged that the nursery would be a self-funding enterprise and this is proving to be the case. The many volunteers who contribute hours each week in the nursery and out in the field gathering seed have made this venture the success it is today.  You all should take a bow and be very, very proud of the contribution you are making to our beautiful Awhitu environment.  

Sarah Williams continues in the role of Resource Centre Manager. Sarah is an exceptional administrator and has developed many systems and processes to ensure that the organisation runs effectively and efficiently. Sarah has proved invaluable in the development of ongoing relationships with council, with suppliers, with other organisations and members of the community.  

Pest Control across the 22,000 hectares of the Awhitu Peninsula will always be a challenge.  Our pest control contract with Auckland Council was due for renewal in July 2017. Much negotiation with Council has occurred over the past 10 months to secure a 2 year contract which the committee believes has achievable objectives for the funding and supplies being provided.  My thanks to committee members who have attended and had input at the meetings with council and the reading of many draft contracts.  We have as recently as last week agreed on the terms and conditions of a two year pest control contract with council. It is a relief to have this contract in place ready for the new incoming committee.  There is work to be done by the incoming committee on how the distribution of bait and supplies will happen but am sure that a clear policy will be developed in the near future.  

Our thanks to Pete Shepherd, our pest control coordinator for his dedication in this role, and his willingness to share his skills and knowledge with others. We also have two part time pest control staff working alongside Pete in addition to the many landowners who are taking responsibility for pest control work on their own properties. The challenge moving forward is to have many more landowners taking on the responsibility for the pest control work on their properties, including the financial cost.  

Some time ago our secretary Anna White and our treasurer Eric Gillott signaled their intention to stand down from the Landcare committee at this AGM. Both Anna and Eric have each put many years of time, effort and expertise into the Landcare committee. They step down from their respective roles with the organisation in a good financial position and with processes in place that demonstrate to funders, the Charities Commission and the community that while Landcare is very much managed by volunteers, it is a very professional and accountable organisation. As a community we owe both Anna and Eric a very big thank you for their dedication over the years.  Your roles are going to be hard to fill and we do appreciate that you have both offered to assist the incoming office bearers in any way you can.  

I am also standing down from the committee this year. I would like to say a big thank you to the committee members I have had the pleasure of working with over the past 4 years. Each committee member brings with them their own unique view, skills, knowledge and expertise… it is the listening and working through ideas and issues that brings strength and a way forward.  I wish the incoming committee every success as this organisation looks forward to the next stage of its journey. 

To our Peninsula community, the committee are your voice in managing this valuable asset, please support them as often and in any way you can.  Remember that they are volunteering their time and efforts to look after and enhance the environment for us all.

Leonie Picard, Convenor - June 2018





2018 and beyond

Grateful thanks again to our many supporters out there, who recognise how vital our natural environment is to our own personal well being, and are prepared to put their efforts into giving nature a helping hand. Truly, it is important work. Last year plants from our nursery revegetated another 15,000 square metres of our Peninsula, and our pest control programme was successful in ridding Awhitu of innumerable possums, rats, mustelids. If it has fur and four legs, it doesn’t belong in our kiwi bush. The battle continues!

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