FOOB 2015 AGM report by Lezette Reid.
To this little part of our world where we are restoring biodiversity.
If you have any questions or comments, we’d love to hear them. Please ask us afterwards.
This is a unique and significant part of Auckland where we have the catchment area, for the Okura Bush Scenic Reserve, Karepiro Bay with the historical Dacre Cottage, Karepiro Forest, Stillwater and its Sand spits and Okura village, all feeding into the 25 year old Long Bay Okura Marine Reserve.
The marine reserve came about through the lobbying efforts of the East Coast Bays Coastal Protection Society over 25 years ago. We have taken over this society with a name change to Friends of Okura Bush gaining charitable status as well.
Okura Bush and surrounds are a mix of Crown (116.37ha), Auckland Council and private ownership. Okura Bush is one of the last large remnant stands of established coastal mixed broadleaf and kauri forest on the east coast of Auckland.
This area is part of the North-West Wild-link which is a collaborative effort between Forest and Bird, Auckland Council and with support from DOC. It is the flight path for birds from Tiri Tiri Matangi to the Waitakeres.
There is so much to do, so much to learn and understand and so many hurdles and hoops to jump through. Council have been very supportive. DOC staff have been supportive, however we have felt hampered by their internal structure that has been in a state of change for quite some time now. We have worked with Te Kawerau a Maki iwi on a Memorandum of Understanding and have presented this to DOC and we believe that we are getting close to finalising it.
We have many bio invasives, namely PTA (Kauri Die Back), rodents, possums, mustelids, weeds and people. Our initial focus has been to attack the rodents, possums and mustelids. We as a community group decided that we would keep this tiny part of New Zealand as poison free as possible….and so we trap.
Initially, it took about 6 months of meetings before we were granted a permit to trap from DOC, so we started trapping on council land adjacent to the reserve. We have been trapping for one and half years now. We have 9 trap lines with 14 volunteers commandeered by Jonathan Baskett. They are all issued with a syringe, some peanut butter, a notebook and pencil, a hi vis jacket, a brush and a trigene bottle to clean footwear, and of course, training! He collects all the data which is put onto CatchIt, a statistical programme run by Auckland University. So far we have caught almost a 1000 rats, 1500 mice, 150 possums and 50 mustelids. We are at again, at present, seeking permission from DOC, this time to extend our trap lines.
To create a rodent buffer zone on the village side of the estuary, we have initiated the Okura Knock Down. Every household in Okura that is willing to participate, will receive a free rat set, kindly sponsored by council and ORRA. This will involve prefeeding the rats with peanut butter and then on the 18th July everyone will set their traps. There will be a Rat Competition at the hall on Sunday the 19th with prizes for the biggest rat, the one with the longest tale etc . We’re still looking for more prizes, if anyone can donate. We are encouraging all households in the village to participate in trapping. If you’re keen to get involved please see Nick, Peter or Geoff.
We now have a Noticeboard, thanks to our local council board and thanks to Graeme Voice, our first secretary, who passed away in December. This was a year in the lobbying and has already drawn in a few trappers.
Boardwalk and Kauri
We have had a couple of workshops with DOC and they have created a draft Kauri die back Management Plan for Okura Bush. They are still to engage iwi and the adjacent landowners before making their final document. It is essential that Boardwalk be built over the kauri roots as these are extremely sensitive to pressure and at present they are covered in metal which is compacting their roots. Last year DOC said they had applied for funding for 10 meters but nothing came of it. Kauri Die Back has been escalated now and it looks like there will be some funding as we have been placed in the top 40 contenders for National Funding for boardwalk. This may only cover a bare minimum and we will be fundraising to build the rest of it.
Our 2nd annual Okura Forest Festival had 15 bands and lots of stalls this year. This is our day for raising awareness for biodiversity. We had council with their PTA stand, FOOBs stand and LCBOGPS present. Council gave us $1000 and we bought 2 gazebos. We raised $4500. We got funding from Hibiscus Bays local board of $5000 and the Environmental Initiatives Fund of $3600 for trapping..
We have a few volunteers who are attacking the weeds of the weediest city. Geoff Reid has organised some very successful weeding days. Volunteer Auckland have donated some time. Ben Titford is running a few weeding days at present.
We are looking to increase our monitoring and at present Dylan van Winkel, herpetologist, has covers out on the trees in order to monitor the geckos and he will check them this coming summer.
He is putting Okura Bush forward as an option for when they review where the next Bioblitz’s will be held.
Dylan reports that species known to occur in Okura Bush that are At Risk-Declining are:
- Mokopirirakau granulatus (forest gecko)
- Naultinus elegans (elegant or green gecko)
- Oligosoma ornatum (Ornate skink)
- With one Not Threatened being Oligosoma aeneum (copper skink)
Species likely to occur:
- Dactylocnemis pacificus – (Pacific Sticky-toed Gecko) At Risk – Relict
- Oligosoma moco (Moko skink) – At Risk – Relict
- and Oligosoma smithi (shore skink) – Not Threatened
Gina Wilson is heading our bird monitoring which we plan to do 4 times a year.
Pat Baskett is doing a fabulous job writing our newsletters.
We have grave concern for the encroaching development and further potential development on either side of the Okura catchment.
On one side the Weiti, bordering the Okura Reserve and Karepiro Bay and on the other side of the Okura Estuary, the Todds proposed development.
The 830ha Weiti Station borders the Okura Bush. The owners applied to have the Environmental court decision of 2010 overturned and won. They were given permission to build 150 houses in a gated community above Dacre Cottage, and later given consent for a further 400 houses to be built in 2 villages. This has since grown to 1600 houses and they are now wanting 2600 on the same footprint. Our concerns are that the Weiti development will pose a threat to the dotterals breeding on the Karepiro Beach and at Stillwater, the potential of silt runoff which would affect the shell life and the general impact of bringing so many more people and pets into the area.
The Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan is a nightmare. It has given the developers a license to apply for more housing, a government directive, and a chance to try and get the Rural Urban Boundary or RUB moved to the eastern shores of the Okura Estuary. The public are being forced to pay a lot of money to be at the table with the developers who have lots of money.
ECBCPS aka FOOB put in a submission. We unfortunately are unable to act on it as we do not have the finances, people or expert witness resources to follow through this intensive process by attending pre-hearings, mediations, expert conferencing and hearings. If we represent ourselves, we do not have any clout. We are required to provide expert witnesses at great expense …all of which has to be fundraised from ourselves. We are therefore working alongside the Long Bay-Okura Great Park Society to protect the area of the Okura marine environment.
While development of the Unitary Plan process is underway, and the Long Bay-Okura Great Park Society has been attending the various meetings associated with development of the Unitary Plan, our big fight in protecting the Okura marine environment is yet to come, when the hearings will start focusing on specific geographic areas such as Okura and Weiti.
This is very costly and we are needing all the help we can get in fundraising. Please Support LBOGPS.
In our opinion, all of this is not in the best interests of the PUBLIC but is a short sighted, short term economic gain.