Friends of Rangikapiti has honoured its founder, 'conservation legend' Alison Stanes, with life membership.
Despite only visiting the Far North from time to time (she lives in Auckland), Alison established Friends of Rangikapiti in 2006, spokesman John Haines saying she had devoted her immense energy, enthusiasm and persuasive skills to securing funding for weed spraying to begin fighting back against the invasion of asparagus scandens, a climbing, spreading perennial weed that thrives in shade, and was threatening to take over the Doubtless Bay reserve.
Her efforts had enabled the current team of volunteers to begin planting diverse species in the reserve, with the intention of creating beauty and providing year-round food supplies for native birds. Her life membership was the final item for the annual general meeting, which also celebrated some of the past year's successes.
The group was developing a relationship with Chris Cargill, the new owner (since December) of Bloomfields Nursery at Aurere, who was sourcing and growing-on hard-to-find species of trees for Friends of Rangikapiti, funded by Trees That Count, John said.
Meanwhile volunteers, including Mangonui School children, continued regular trapping, and Ian Swindells had submitted a funding application for 80 trap stations (one every 50 metres) with the intention of blanketing the reserve to create a no/extremely low pest population. If that application was successful it would lift the number of trap stations in the reserve to 100, enough to keep four volunteers active once a week.
People neighbouring the reserve had reported that the solitary male kiwi that had moved in was calling again, after falling silent over summer.
"He's getting lonely and pining for a mate, or so we think," John said.
Volunteer Brett Tercel had built and installed a small platform bridge at the beginning of the loop track in the reserve, Far North District Council contractor Stonecraft had improved drainage and installed a concrete and stone entrance to the reserve, and DoC had placed new signs at each end of one of the tracks.
"There is much more work to be done to bring the tracks to a higher and safer standard, but these are incremental, positive steps," John added.
Ian Swindells had also initiated a weekly weeding group that got together every Wednesday morning in a bid to get on top of the weeds. He also met with the Mangonui School children every Friday, doing nursery work, trapping, monitoring the kiwi, etc.
In total volunteers had given more than 1200 hours of their time over the last year.
An average of 10 to 15 people had got around 1200 plants into the ground over five planting days in July last year. There had been more losses of plants thanks to a wet winter and an extremely dry summer, but there were also many successes to celebrate. A thousand of the trees were funded by Trees That Count, another 100 being obtained with a Ministry for Primary Industries Indigenous Forestry Matariki Fund grant.
Trees That Count had confirmed funding for 1000 trees this year, and (provisionally) 1200 more next year. They would be collected from The Shadehouse in Kerikeri, Kerikeri Plant Production, Kaitaia's Bushland Trust and Waikura Landscapes. on the Karikari Peninsula.
The first two planting days for 2019 had already taken place, John added, the first of them supported by three DoC staff and the second by an enthusiastic group of Ngati Kahu Social Services teenagers (who were "brilliant"). The next is on Sunday, meeting at the pa carpark at 9.30am. Volunteers need spades.