Photo: Anna White

Our Group is Twenty Years Young

Awhitu Landcare started in 1994 with a small number of landowners concerned at encroaching sand blows damaging west coast farmland, and the environmental damage being done by pests. Many Awhitu farmers tell of being able to shoot 100 possums a night in the 1990’s! Something had to be done.

Pests - In the beginning our pest control consisted of lending traps for unwanted animals and identifying and advising on control methods for weeds. From 2004 until 2008 we ran a very successful possum control project. Support was given by the ARC and specialised funding obtained from DOC. The Awhitu community overwhelmingly voted to use some of their rates towards this programme and as a result the Peninsula was formally identified as a Possum Control Area, a designation which remains to this day. In 10 years possum trap catches have gone from as high as 40% in some parts of the Peninsula, to an average of 5%, with many areas now showing zero populations. 

Erosion Control - From 1995 to 2006 Awhitu Landcare commissioned specialised scientific studies with assistance from AgMardt, to investigate best methods to stabilise sandblows which were damaging pasture on the west of the Peninsula. An extensive research and education project was undertaken under the valued guidance of Dr Douglas Hicks, with assistance from DOC and ARC staff.

Education - Community workshops have been organised on native trees for forestry, chemical, fertiliser and farm machinery use, Treaty of Waitangi issues, heritage seed saving, kauri dieback, native fish, and stream monitoring. An Environmental Awards scheme was run by Awhitu Landcare for several years with funding assistance from NZ Steel, helping many landowners undertake new projects for the protection and enhancement of native bush and wetlands.

Field Trips - We have organised these since the early 1990’s, to view environmental initiatives on a range of local properties and to explore the Maori history of the Peninsula. We are very fortunate that George Flavell, kaumatua of Ngati Te Ata is often able to join us, graciously willing to share his extensive knowledge of the area.  Everyone welcome, locals and visitors alike.

Planting on Public Reserves - Our members have a proud history of planting out areas of community land on the Peninsula, for the enjoyment of the public. Over the years these have included the Matakawau Walkway, the beachfront Reserve at Hamilton’s Gap and the Manukau Heads Signal Station carpark. We still care for these today, and have increased our plantings on public land to many other areas.

Trees for Survival - This Scheme was introduced to the Peninsula by a member of Landcare in 1994 and Landcare has had an ongoing involvement since that time.

Recycling - In 2005 we built a recycling station for paper, glass and tins. This is now managed by Auckland Council and is extremely well used by the community. A scrap metal clean up on the Peninsula, mostly old car bodies dumped over time, was organised by us - removing many tonnes of rusting metal from our environment.