Photo: Anna White

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