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History of Mataia Restoration Project
Pest and predator control began in earnest in 2009 when the traps were purchased.
To March 2013 we have caught:-
100 Timms traps are still continually set for opossum control. They are checked approximately fortnightly. Over the spring and summer aniseed and cinnamon scented cereal baits are used. (purchased from Connovation) In autumn and winter fresh apple is very effective.
Approximately 80 are caught each year.
Stoats, Weasels and Ferrets
100 DOC 250’s were initially purchased as fitch farming had been carried out in the area. Only 2 ferrets have ever been caught, the latest in March 2011. Since then 150 DOC200's have been added to the armoury.
Stoats and weasels are caught most often using eggs as bait. We have tried salted rabbit (Connovation product) but there was no obvious difference in catch rate. Traps are visited fortnightly and rebaited monthly. Peanut butter on top of the eggs helps attract rats to the traps.
We sometimes use thin slices of beef.
Hedgehogs and rats are caught in both DOC 250’s and 200’s
Since releasing kiwi here in May 2013 we only use use Pindone as a poison.
Tracking tunnel monitoring is done in May and October. And poisoning is carried out if results are above about 3% of tracking cards showing presence of rats. Bait stations are filled then checked weekly for about a month and then all bait is removed and another monitoring with tracking tunnels is carried out. We try to do this in conjunction with Ark in the Park to give is some benchmarking.
We have recently purchased 20 rat trap boxes and after an initial disappointing start caught 13 in one run over the autumn.
We have two live cat traps which are baited with cooked mince (most successful is spaghetti bolognaise!) and set where we see a cat. The cat is usually caught after 3-4 days.
We will also use it when cat droppings are noticed though there can be issues with having to visit the trap daily as it is a live trap.
In July 2013 we took delivery of 40 cat kill traps developed by Steve Allen. These are very effective killing machines. Set with thin strips of meat they attrack not only cats but also opossums!
We have 1 live magpie trap which is very effective when there are mobs of magpies.
Flora and Fauna Restored.
Since the project area was fully fenced from stock in 2005 there had been an explosion of “recovery”.
The sub-canopy layers of the forest are rapidly regenerating since the exclusion of grazing animals and there is a good variety of seedling given that there are few rats to eat their favourite ones. In particular pseudopanax sp, whau, kawakawa, hengehenge, whiteywood, matipo,coprosma sp,pidgeonwood, alseuosmia,
There is a good variety of parent trees for seed sources including puriri, matai, titoki, nikau, cordyline, kahikatea, kauri, tanekaha, kohekohe, kowhai, karaka, Totara, rimu, taraire, tawa, rewarewa,
However it wasn’t until the area was the subject of an intensive cyanide operation in the winter of 2009, when 550 opossums were killed, that the pohutukawa really showed positive signs of recovery. They had been so badly browsed that several very large old trees in fact succumbed and died.
QEII staff who visited the site in 2011 was delighted with the “lack of possum browse”. As a result trees are looking very healthy. Kohekohe flowered and fruited for the first time last year and we have seen kiekie and kawakawa fruit as well.
Bird life is bouncing back. A volunteer who is also a member of the ornithological society has begun to do quarterly bird counts this year so we will have some hard data on bird recovery.
Anecdotally though, fernbirds who were confined to a small area of plagianthus in the higher salt marsh area have spread right along the coastal forest margin and are now extending their range up the Mataia Stream. Banded rail are also increasing in number and marsh crake have been heard in this area. Several bittern also inhabit the area and are seen reasonably regularly. Kereru are nesting and a tomtit was recorded as being present for the first time at the last quarterly bird count. Tui are breeding and aggressively protecting their territories.
Sharing the work and the successes are very important parts of our work. Enabling as many people as possible to feel part of the recovery gives us all a sense of hope for the future of biodiversity in the future.
We will therefore extend our work beyond our own boundaries this year.
In November 2012 we held an Open Day for the Mataia Restoration Project and invited people to share in the work we are doing and to encourage them to start pest and predator control "in their own back yards" Although the weather was inclement, 90 people attended the day which began with a walk through the restoration area followed by lunch and then a wander through displays set up by Kiwis for kiwi, Auckland Council - Wai Care and pest and predator control. Tracking tunnels and cards and some traps were given to interested people.
Since then we have held three kiwi release celebrations attended by many people. Kiwis for kiwi organised this year's main release and the Prime Minister, and Kiwis for kiwi main sponsors, BNZ Bank, attended.
We held a pest and predtor control workshop in December 2013 and 60 of neighbours and other interested parties attended.
In July 2014 we will hold a Telemetry Workshop and Dog kiwi Aversion Training day.
Neighbours and members of the local community are beginning to take up pest and predator control work in earnest. DOC Biofunds gave us money to purchase more traps to extend into a 10,000ha buffer zone around Mataia.