AGM Report 2018 FOOB: Sunday 12th August 3.30pm
Thanks to all of you, our supporters and our dedicated volunteers, we are now seeing and hearing a difference not only whilst walking the Okura Bush track between Haigh Access Road and Duck Creek Road in Stillwater but in the surrounding areas too.
Flora & Fauna bio invasives
We are working with Hibiscus and Bays Local Board to enhance the North West Wildlink. We working at creating a buffer zone around this special halo area where we can make it as free as possible of invasive plants and animals. We encourage property owners to take part, receiving traps and a property pest plan which indicates where the plants are that are endangering the forest.
We have several volunteer weeding days a year and many volunteer hours have been clocked up. We also engage professional weeding/restoration contractor, Remnant Restoration, who have completed the second year of weeding in several areas. They have been out helping this morning with our planting day. Over 500 plants went into the ground at Stillwater this morning. We planted 800 plants year before last and last year we planted 1700. We are now going into our 3rd year of the 5 year weeding plan. Great progress.
TRAPPING REPORT TO AGM 12th August 2018 Jonathan Baskett
The 2017 and 2018 (to end of June) trapping program has continued much as in previous years. No new traplines have been added so that we still have eleven lines and over 500 traps in the Okura Bush along the walkway to Stillwater, and in parts around the perimeter. An additional trapping program aimed at trapping in the “Halo” of the Okura Bush continues led by Lynne Beneka. This area covers the Okura Village, and parts of the Okura River Road and Vaughans Road.
One line, on the border with the Weiti Station, has been closed for almost two years due to earthworks and building programs at Weiti and lack of access to the traps.
From mid May 2018 DOC have closed four traplines to try to limit the spread of Kauri Dieback disease. This will likely cause an increase of predators in the Okura bush with deleterious effects on resident birds, insects, lizards and other animals. There has been no signal as to when the walkway might be reopened, if only for trapping.
About 20 volunteer trappers work the traplines (when open) with 1-3 on each line. We aim to check the traps at least once a week. Below are the catch numbers for 2017 and until the end of June 2018. Due to track closure the figures to the end of June 2018 will be lower than they might have been as the last six weeks of trapping in the area has been temporarily discontinued.
2017 2017 to end June 2018 to end June
RATS 537 407 211
MICE 905 699 254
MUSTELIDS 43 34 9
POSSUMS 93 57 76
Profuse thanks to our wonderful and dedicated team of volunteer trappers who organise themselves to go out to check the traps come wind, rain, mud and cold.
Thanks also to the CatchIT team at the University of Auckland Department of Biostatistics who record our data and turn it into interesting displays.
And finally thanks to sponsors who have who helped fund the traps and bait in the year ending 30th June 2018: The Trusts Community Foundation, and anonymous donors.
2013-2017: Rats=1687, Mice=3109, Possums=457, Mustelids=101 Over 500 traps managed by 20 trappers.
Jonathan Basket, Trapping Coordinator.
Okura Village Pest Control Update
Slowly but surely our group of local trappers have increased. We now have about 60 properties with traps. There are a core group of regular trappers who respond to my monthly emails and keep track of their catches. From talking to some of the people involved, I am sure there are more catches than are reported.
The Okura Knockdown (22 April 2018)) held at the Okura Hall, was fun and once again generated good interest and enthusiasm. The numbers attending were however down on last year. This may be due to us sending out the flyers later than usual, it being school holidays and others functions happening on the day. This did not stop the fun, hilarity and enthusiasm of those attending. Once again there were plenty of prizes for everyone.
We managed to set up a Trap line along waterline on the Deborah Reserve comprising of 32 traps. There are 7 rostered volunteers who take turns to check the traps on approximately a weekly basis. There were some initial teething problems and nothing caught in Aug (the first month in operation) but the catches have steadily increased over the months
Catches: March 2017 – Dec 2017
Rats – 29
Mice – 26
Possums – 3
Catches: Jan 2018 – June 2018
Rats – 22
Mice – 72
Possums – 12
There appears to be a decrease in the number of rats caught and an increase in the number of mice.
Catches for Deborah Reserve Aug 2017 – May 2018
Rats – 10
Mice – 9
Okura Village Rat Catch Co-ordinator
THE GREAT KNOCKDOWN RAT CATCHING COMPETITION
The Stillwater Community Assn took part in the Annual Okura competition in April.
Residents received traps donated by the Auckland City Council.
Thirteen rats were weighed in.
Morgan Williams won the largest rat
Jim Penwarden caught nine rats and won the greatest number caught. He also won the rat with the longest tail
Jessica Holm won the mouse
All entrants received prizes and enjoyed morning tea and cookies while they discussed their various catching techniques.
“Thank you to all Stillwater residents who took part in this effort to rid our community of pests.
WE WON THE COMPETITION AGAINST OKURA” – Aileen Lusty and Irene Sanders
Okura Forest Festival: After checking the weather forecast daily, we got lucky with a break in the rain in February this year, so with soggy ground we went ahead with our 5th Okura Forest Festival. It attracted about 1,000 people including well over 50 volunteers and 20 live bands. Food on sale consisted of wonderful pizzas and vegetarian fare and fantastic natural homemade juices. $18,000 was raised.
Local Board presentations: Presented regarding the Okura Forest Festival.
H&B Restoration Network Group Report: A steering group was formed to create a Biodiversity and Pest Free Plan for H&B and it has been determined that there will be a coordinator employed to bring this together.
Mary Stewart has been water testing the first stream in the Okura Bush.
Bird Monitoring Report: Gina Wilson
Bird Count Okura Bush 2017
Our first bird count in Okura Bush was undertaken by 7 volunteers in October 2015 to establish a baseline for further counts. A further count was done in 2016 by 12 volunteers.
The reason for performing annual bird counts is to see if the number of birds visiting/residing in Okura bush is increasing, constant or decreasing.
The initial plan was to undertake a count each season, but as each count takes approx 4-5 hours it was felt that an annual count would suffice.
The FOOB bird count for 2017 was undertaken by 11 volunteers between 8th October – 12th Nov.
As you will see from the number of recordings, less birds were documented than last year. It was also interesting that some counters thought there were lots of birds & others found the bush to be very quiet. Weather conditions may have contributed & also the construction being undertaken close by. It will be really interesting to see how the figures stack up in this year’s count.
• 5 Minute Bird Count (5MBC)
• Stations set 250m apart avoiding areas where duplication may occur.ie. where the track winds back on itself & where there were steps (for safety reasons).
• All observations were made from the track.
• Stations were marked with flagging tape & named ie. OB1 – OB17
• A notebook was used to record the birds & data then transferred onto a spreadsheet
• Methodology, recording template for the data, written instructions, trap number close to stations, & GPS co-ordinates were emailed to participants.
• The counts were to take place between 8th October – 12th November 2017
• All counts to be done between 8am – 12MD
• Windy, rainy days to be avoided
• Any bird seen, heard or flying at the named station was to be recorded. If a bird was first seen it was recorded as seen. If a bird was first heard it was recorded as heard. It was important to try to avoid counting the same bird twice.
• 17 stations were identified the last one being on the ridge overlooking Karepiro Bay.
• No counts were done on the Stillwater side of the Okura Bush Walk.
The final figures were compiled from 11 sets of data
Of 38 species on the count list, 35 were recorded as being present.
3 species not recorded were:-
Bellbird, Kaka, Brown Quail.
Kaka were however heard in the Okura Bush car park. Brown quail were added to the list after a sighting in 2016 but were not seen this year.
3 more species were recorded for 2017
Fernbird, Pied stilt, Caspian tern & of course our Rooster was still around.
The following are the totals of birds seen or heard during the counts.
Species 2017 2016
Tui 199 280
Grey Warbler 245 266
Fantail 147 176
Eastern Rosella 106 148
Kingfisher 77 143
Silver eye 96 111
Myna 88 89
Kereru 77 75
Chaffinch 39 63
Pheasant 31 54
Blackbird 103 49
Paradise Shell duck 20 39
Goldfinch 28 39
Shining cuckoo 32 36
Welcome swallow 75 34
Spur- wing plover 4 30
Skylark 9 25
Canada goose 48 24
Tomtit 6 19
Greenfinch 1 18
White faced heron 10 15
Pukeko 24 14
California Quail 20 14
Oyster catcher 15 10
Yellowhammer 17 0
Black- backed gull 16 0
Song Thrush 11 0
(Red signifies increase in observations)
Birds numbering <10 were:-
Barbary dove, Harrier, House sparrow, Magpie, Mallard, Morepork, Skylark, Spotted dove, Kaka, Brown Quail, Spur wing plover, Greenfinch, Tomtit, Fernbird, Pied stilt & Caspian tern.
As you can see there are some marked fluctuations in some species, and the total number of recordings was down on last year.
Stillwater Report by Martin Sanders:
REPORT OF STILLWATER END OF THE OKURA WALK 2017/2018
This will be a mixture of good and bad.
As far as the birds are concerned we had a disappointing breeding season with the NZ Dotterels due to bad weather occurring at critical times during nesting. The spit was almost inundated with easterly winds and spring tides coinciding washing away eggs of NZD and VOC. I suspect we may have reared two chicks from three or four pairs of adult NZ Dotts. The old female bird present since 1999 was in residence but lately after more bad weather I have not been able to locate her or any dotterels.
A new sand bar is being created some 30 mtrs off the spit. This seems to be similar to one that was there some fifteen years ago that provided good roosting for migrant birds prior to high tide.
On the positive side with the lagoon water quite high a couple of Pateke raised at least one offspring. These are arguably more rare than the dotterels.
Flora has had a better time despite the condition of the track. (the worst we’ve seen in nearly twenty years) Good growth can be seen in most of the planting areas, although could do with some cleaning up round the plantings. I’m sure we’ve made headway with the weeds the main results being seen in the dead toetoe, but some have regrowth and need monitoring. However there are still plenty of weeds to look forward to.
Regular trapping has had mixed results with lack of communication the when the application of poisoning took place. This has confused results but the trap-line has been regularly monitored.
Bernard Micheux Report 2018
Here's the bird data for 2017 and 2018 – Karepiro Bay, Shell spit opposite Pete's place, and Wade River spit
Points to make:
Wintering Pied Oyster Catcher flock steady at around 350 birds
Wintering Variable Oyster Catcher flock up to 25 birds recorded and one pair raised a chick in 2017
Wintering Pied Stilt numbers seem to be up with up to c. 50 recorded
Wintering NZ Dotterels up to 10 birds. No breeding yet at Karepiro, but one pair breeding on Okura spit and 2 (possibly 3) pairs breeding at Wade River spit.
Banded Dotterels also regular visitors in autumn
Summer Bar-tailed Godwit flock up to 169 birds
Shore Plover again visited Karepiro Bay
Five Royal Spoonbills roosting in new development at the back of Karepiro
I will touch on some of the threats that we are surrounded by, the most notable being Kauri Dieback (Phytophthera Agathidicida), Walkway, Flora and Fauna Pests, the impact of land developers, big and small, and the managed fill.
We approached iwi with regard to the parlous state of the track in winter. They placed a rahui on the Okura Bush Reserve and it was endorsed by DoC on the 12th May.
Te Warana from Te Kawerau a Maki, Ngati Manahiri and Ngati Rehua put on a very moving ceremony to close the forest. Geoff gave a great mihi. Iwi and FOOB tried several times to meet with the Dept of Conservation operations manager prior to the rahui, but to no avail. The result of this is that FOOB are not allowed into the forest to continue trapping even though we have been assured of a warrant by 2 of the iwi so far to continue predator control. I perchanced a meeting with Connie Norgate, the Acting operations director, in the carpark and she was open to a discussion. We remain hopeful. Word has it that DoC want to open the track in October. This goes against what Edward Ashby of Te Kawerau states in an email to Kirsty Prior.
“On another note, due to recent information and circumstances regarding kauri dieback, and many conversations I have had with other iwi and multiple scientists, Te Kawerau a Maki do not have faith in the current state of knowledge regarding ‘kauri safe’ track design. The methodology followed by DOC does not appear to have been peer reviewed and tested for efficacy. It also does not address our tikanga. The Kawerau a Maki have placed rahui over Te Waonui a Tiriwa, and now Okura (along with Manuhiri and Rehua) to protect and conserve the ngahere. We are not interested in recreation ahead of conservation. Tikanga of the rahui is for people to stay out of the area to allow the mauri and wairua to heal and to provide sanctity for atua to help regenerate the environment. The provision of human access to rahui is a new thing, but the tikanga is that if this occurs it must be with our authorisation, and the physical separation of people from papatuanuku/the whenua must be ensured. People have proven incapable of staying on track. We have therefore come up with our own boardwalk design which I am in the process of getting engineering review (draft attached). We will be working with other iwi to ensure consistency of approach nationally, and I am also in parallel discussions with Auckland Council. We need to do it once and we need to do it right. The above matters regarding public access/track design were discussed with my Board at their last Trustees meeting. They have directed that TKaM are not in a position to agree or authorise any recreational public access within our rahui areas unless the highest possible standard of safe (from a tikanga perspective as well as scientific) access is provided. Hence the boardwalk design attached (along with agreed signage and agreed cleaning stations).”
There are still 2 slips that have not been tended to, one for over 4 years and one from 2 years ago.
We will support the rahui until the track is upgraded to a safe and acceptable standard.
The recent good news is that the Environment Court ruled in favour of retaining the Rural Urban Boundary (for the 3rd time) thus disallowing Todd’s to build over a 1000 houses on the banks of the Marine Reserve. They have appealed, but that was to be expected. This cost Long Bay Okura Great Park Society $320,000. Council and Forest and Bird fought the case as well. Thanks to all of you, FOOB was able to contribute.
Across the estuary above Karepiro Bay and Dacre Cottage, the Weiti Development blocked up one of the two streams entering Karepiro Bay early last year, redirecting the southern stream to the northern stream. This is in a salt marsh area and a lot of life has perished. Keep Okura Green has an agreement with Weiti and got an injunction placed on them and they were supposed to reinstate the stream last summer but never did. Only KOG can now progress this matter, but it will be costly. We are appalled that council keep granting extended permits for winter works in such a sensitive area.
This brings me to the huge issue of SEDIMENT. So much sediment is pouring into the marine reserve.
We know that the Todd’s Long Bay Development has spewed out much sediment into the Marine reserve since starting their development.
It is relatively easier to point fingers at the Weiti development because they are the only one in their whole catchment and can’t blame anyone else further up the line.
Envirofill, the managed fill on East Coast Road, allows 5% toxins to be dumped on site and has the worst compliance record out of all 3 sites. Wondering why East Coast Road is in such a state of disrepair? They are now allowed up to 300 trucks per day. 1 truck on the road is the equivalent of 10,000 cars!
We are supporting the Long Bay Okura Great Park Society who are leading the charge to council on the sediment issue. There was a hearing with the Environmental and Community Committee a month ago.Dr Shaw Mead, ecologist from eCoast and Treff Barnett from Biotrace were there to support the society. Julia Parfitt did a great introduction. Fiona McLaughlin stated our case and Dr Shaw backed it up scientifically.
Here are some interesting facts from the report:
Water testing results were taken from six outputs discharging from Weiti development’s streams over a two-year period.The turbidity measured in the surface water samples exceeded the ANZECC guidelines for protection of aquatic ecosystems on all occasions in both the freshwater and marine samples.
There are no regional wide Auckland Council assessment criteria for suspended solids within receiving waters but Auckland Council State of the Environment Monitoring results for thirty-four streams sampled monthly throughout the 2015 year ranged from a minimum of 0.2 g/m3 to a maximum of 76 g/m3, and averaged 4.7 g/m3 (Auckland Council, 2016).
The results show the total suspended solids measured in the surface samples in the Karepiro Stream and the vicinity of the Weiti Development exceeded the average for the Auckland streams on every sampling occasion and exceed the maximum recorded on 58% of the sampling occasions.
Analysis of Compliance Reports
75% of Council’s 110 inspection reports for Weiti Developments from late 2015 up to now show non-compliance.
89% of Council’s 79 inspection reports for Long Bay Developments from late 2012 up to 2016 show non-compliance.
92% of Council’s 25 inspection reports for Envirofill Managed Landfill from 2016 up to now show non-compliance.
Review of Weiti Development Environmental Monitoring Reports
Weiti Development is required to carry out annual ecological monitoring of their site for Council’s review. Dr Shaw Mead carried out a peer review of Weiti’s ecologist Boffa Miskell’s monitoring reports and determined that there had been a significant loss of marine life in the ecosystem adjacent to the Weiti Development.
“ The average species richness dropped at the Stream Mouth to only 2-3 species in 2016 and 2017.
All pipi and intertidal snails were lost from the Stream Mouth, and the number of pipi at Intertidal 2 (adjacent to the Stream Mouth) and Intertidal 1 (adjacent to the Centre Stream mouth) had decreased, where there was an increase at most of the remaining sites.”
“In conclusion, the benthic biota data show a loss in abundance, biomass and number of taxa, at the Stream Mouth, and a clear (and statistically significant) loss of abundance at the intertidal site adjacent to the Karepiro Stream (Site 2), and the subtidal sites immediately offshore from the stream discharge (Sites 5 and 6); and sediment grainsize showed a significant increase in silt and clay.”
“The conclusions in the Year 2 Boffa Miskell (2017) report were unsubstantiated by the data presented and concluded that all the changes were likely due to “natural variability”. “
“Considering the incorrect data and/or errors in both the Year 1 and Year 2 reports, a peer review by Auckland Council should be carried out on these and future Marine Monitoring reports; and the raw data should be appended to each report.” – Treffery Barnett, Bioresearches
In March 2018 there was a mass mortality of Cockles and other species spread over acres in Karepiro Bay north and south of Karepiro Beach and throughout the Okura Estuary.
A brief citizen survey carried out at the same time showed healthy populations in the Weiti River, Wade Head and Okoromai Bay.
The Society assisted the DOC Ranger to collect 30 samples throughout the Okura Estuary and those results showed a 65% mortality rate. Of the shellfish that were alive, and, on the surface, they were highly stressed based on results tested by MPI.
MPI results into the shellfish deaths show that sediment is one of the likely causal factors.
“Basically, the results do not show evidence of an infectious process but are consistent with animals dealing with a lot of environmental stress which would be expected from living in an estuary and having to deal with constantly changing salinity, water temperatures and other environmental insults such as possibly sedimentation, or eutrophication.” – MPI
Other expert opinion
“For the demise of cockle to be reversed, the input of fine terrestrial sediments to the estuary must be stopped, and time allowed for the already present fine sediments to be dispersed and or diluted with courser marine sediments that were previously present.” – Graham Don, Bioresearches
“…The severe loss of a key food source at Okura will likely adversely affect at least South Island pied oystercatcher, and possibly eastern bar-tailed godwit and the local population of variable oystercatcher, all of which are “at risk” species on a national basis.” – Simon West Council Monitoring
The East Coast Estuarine Report 2017 by Council regarding the health of the Okura Estuary, reports a declining health in the Estuary and links this to increased sediment loads.
Council’s Marine Ecologist has advised that data has been collected by NIWA for the next estuarine report and shows a continuing decline in the health of the ecosystem with increased sediment loads.
Treffery Barnett draws the same conclusion; “There has been mass mortality of the cockle population in the lower and outer Okura Estuary in late March 2018. Although there were not clear indicators of the cause of the mortality, recent reports from NIWA indicate the estuary is receiving significant inputs of terrestrial sediment and that this is causing stress to the cockle populations; and therefore without further indicators, sedimentation from terrestrial sources is most likely responsible, at least in part, for the mortality of the cockle populations.”
Heavy Metal Water Testing
On 21 June 2018 the stream discharging from the Envirofill managed fill site was tested for heavy metals.
Another site at Awanohi stream was also tested at the same time for comparison. Both sites reported heavy metal readings that are of concern.
The readings have been analysed using the ANZECC guidelines for the protection of aquatic ecosystems. This system has three guidelines; 99%, 95% and 90%. A reading that corresponds to 99% means that 99% of the ecosystem is going to be safe. 95% is considered the normal benchmark. At levels above this it is considered that the ecosystem will suffer significant adverse effects and the most sensitive animals will die out.
Most alarming are the extremely high levels of nickel and zinc discharging from the Envirofill site of 34ug/l and 64ug/l respectively. These levels are many times higher than the 90% ANZECC rating and thus likely to have significant effects on the receiving environment.
FOOB is undertaking the research into compliance issues with Envirofill at present.
Thank you for all your support and feel free to get in touch anytime.