Photo: Anna White

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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!

Mahanihani Restoration takes a Big Step Forward

65 helpers have just put another 2000 plants in the ground at Mahanihani! Fantastic teamwork and MANY thanks to everyone who joined us in those majestic surroundings, helping out so willingly, with lots of smiles and spadework. The weather gods were exceptionally kind, we had perfect conditions. All in all - a wonderful morning, ending appropriately with one of Leonie’s very special lunches (venison casserole on the menu no less!) at the historic Awhitu Central Hall. Here are a few photos - but they can only show a small part of the landscape and our team of helpers, as the areas we were planting in were so extensive. Huge thanks to each and every one of you who are making this great project happen.  The concensus was ‘what a memorable day we’ve had….’

Mahanihani Restoration Continues!

From 10am for a couple of hours on Sunday 11 June we will be continuing our restoration work in this historic site -  we’d love you to join us and help beat our previous record of planting 2,000 plants in one morning!  You will be assured of stunning views :-). Please note that access to the main planting site is quite steep, although there is a smaller secondary site to plant in if anyone cannot manage the hill climb. Volunteers will need good strong footwear, warm clothing, gardening gloves and if possible bring a spade. Also water for your own needs. We will be there, whatever the weather on the day.

To reach Mahanihani, follow the signs up the Awhitu Peninsula to the Manukau Heads Lighthouse. Parking is limited at the Mahanihani site and if possible, and you are coming with friends, we would love you to carpool.  (There is plenty of street parking in Matakawau if you can carpool from there.)  If you are driving right to the site, please follow the Awhitu Landcare directional signs for paddock parking on the day, and be considerate when parking so we avoid disrupting visitors to the Lighthouse.

Warming nourishment will be provided as a thank you to volunteers after the planting at the Awhitu Central Hall (just off Manukau Heads Road, opposite the Church). Again, please take care and be considerate when parking - our Awhitu roads are very narrow! We expect to be planting for around two hours, maybe a bit more or less depending on the number of volunteers. Look forward to seeing you there!

Photo - the Mahanihani Restoration Planting site

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