There was standing room only at the pest control workshop staged by Kiwi Coast and the Northland Regional Council at Opuawhanga (east of Whakapara).

Fifty community groups, iwi, hapū, organisations and agencies were represented by 120 people, all keen to connect their projects and to share their knowledge and experience of trapping animal pests, restoring forests and helping kiwi thrive.

Kiwi Coast co-ordinator Ngaire Tyson said the workshop had succeeded in bringing together some of the 112 entities linked into Kiwi Coast in one room to share their skills, build capacity and showcase their innovative solutions.

This grey-faced petrel (oi) chick was photographed on Burgess Island, in the Hauraki Gulf, but now the species is breeding again at Bream Head.
This grey-faced petrel (oi) chick was photographed on Burgess Island, in the Hauraki Gulf, but now the species is breeding again at Bream Head.

Northland communities were achieving amazing results, not only collectively trapping 229,372 pests over the past five years, but also reversing the decline of some of the region's most threatened species and restoring forests.

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"It's hard work out there in the forests, fighting the constant battle against intelligent animal pests that can breed fast, learn to avoid traps and quickly reinvade project areas," Ms Tyson said.

"Right now projects linked into Kiwi Coast are managing a total of 145,725ha across Northland, and kiwi numbers are either stable or increasing at almost all sites. We need to sustain these hard-won gains, keep projects going and support the people involved.

Regional workshops like this are one way of ensuring these things happen."

Regional council biosecurity manager Don McKenzie was impressed by turnout, and the calibre of the presentations, trap demonstrations and knowledge shared.

"It's clear that the momentum of community-led pest control in Northland is going full steam ahead, and our council is proud to work with Kiwi Coast and these communities to support them where it matters most, out there on the ground, with funding for traps, advice and project set-up," he said.

Workshop sponsor Key Industries was there to present $500 worth of pest control products to Soozee McIntyre, from the Tapuhi Landcare Group, which was involved in the Northland pest control results trap catch data collation carried out by Kiwi Coast earlier in the year.

"Our group is battling away trapping pests and bringing back health to the native forests on private land in the Tapuhi area. We're trying to bring some ancient northern rata back to life after years of being decimated by possums, and these products will be put to immediate use," Ms McIntyre said.

The presenters included Adam Willetts, ranger for the Bream Head Conservation Trust, who spoke of three frustrating years watching breeding attempts of grey-faced petrel (oi) fail due to predation.

"Our initial joy when we found oi had returned to Bream Head was quickly dampened when all their nests failed," he said.

"It took three long years of intensifying trapping and carrying out a 1080 ground-based operation to successfully thwart stoat predation and allow the oi to breed, nest and fledge their young safely."

The Bream Head Conservation Trust was seen as providing an example of the ability of community and hapū-led projects to achieve ambitious conservation goals without predator-proof fences. Kiwi Coast Mid North co-ordinator Andrew Mentor saying rather than ring-fencing one area, in Northland traplines were increasingly linking together to build continuous networks across multiple projects, covering tens of thousands of hectares.

Warren Morunga spoke about the Russell State Forest Hapu Collective's 20-year plan to restore the forest, displaying drone images of numerous dying tree tops throughout the canopy that had sparked fears that the forest could be close to collapse. The hapū collective is now working with DoC and the NRC on a long-term plan to reduce the animal pests that have devastated the forest, and restore birdsong.