Te Awamutu Rotary Club is known for supporting local worthy causes and it has recently joined forces with the National Wetland Trust of New Zealand (NWT) to help support ongoing conservation efforts at Rotopiko wetlands in Ōhaupō.

Rotopiko is a network of three small peat lakes, swampy margins and kahikatea forest set amongst 40 hectares of reserve land and contains a predator-free sanctuary surrounded by 1.4km of predator fencing around the eastern lake.

The peat lakes are significant because they are among the best of their kind anywhere in the country.

Their ecosystems have unique genetic diversity and as such they are valued both for scientific and cultural reasons.

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The National Wetland Trust works closely with volunteer groups like Rotary to manage the area, amongst other things helping to detect and control mammalian pests within its enclosure installed in 2013.

While predator fencing reduces the amount and type of predators entering the reserve, mice can still be a problem, finding hidden gaps to get in and affecting the area's biodiversity by competing with native wildlife.

On a recent visit to Rotopiko, 10 Te Awamutu Rotary members baited, set and laid mouse traps around the reserve's protected bush areas. Photo / Supplied
On a recent visit to Rotopiko, 10 Te Awamutu Rotary members baited, set and laid mouse traps around the reserve's protected bush areas. Photo / Supplied

Just before Covid-19 lockdown a few mice were detected but with the trust unable to return to deal to them they quickly turned into hundreds.

On a recent visit to Rotopiko, 10 Te Awamutu Rotary members baited, set and laid mouse traps around the reserve's protected bush areas.

This will be just one of the club's regular undertakings as they continue to carry out fortnightly Friday afternoon visits.

Other tasks that will be undertaken by members include regular inspections of the area's predator fence and education discovery trail, planting and weed control, construction and maintenance and setting out and monitoring the inky tracking cards and tunnels used to detect and identify species of fauna present within the reserve.

"The National Wetland Trust is leading a major wetland restoration and education centre project based at Lake Rotopiko near Te Awamutu," says Te Awamutu Rotary Club environmental co-ordinator Stephen Cox.

"Rotary Te Awamutu is active in the community providing a wide range of volunteering activities. It's an excellent collaboration.'

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He says the club will be able to provide "a fortnightly group of volunteers with
diverse skills", which fits with the organisation's core values' including providing service to others and advancing world understanding.

As well as these fortnightly visits and working bees, Stephen hopes that Rotary's regular volunteers will also help support the NWT with occasional wildlife surveys and school visits aided by the 12m container they recently acquired for Rotopiko, which it plans to help develop further into an on-site classroom facility and volunteers' hub.