In early May 2022 a sizable team from the Royal New Zealand Air Force arrived in Mangawhai to join the volunteers of Piroa Conservation Trust for a week's work progressing important conservation efforts that benefit the local community. The team will start work with the infamous local ‘trackies’ who are well known in the area having cut in many of the walking tracks in the area. The work focus was to ‘cut in’ a new section of a walking trail that will potentially be incorporated into the Te Araroa Trail which passes over Waorahi Conservation Estate, and install a bait station network in the adjoining Department of Conservation Reserve. The track work will open an important alternative track to the public, moving walkers off the public roadside to fully enjoy the wonderful natural landscape and seascape of the area by travel, via a connected network of tracks.
Image: Waorahi ranger Steve McKee with WGCDR Phil Jackson, F/S Sandi Cooper, CPL Shane Brewer, FLTLT Mike Jeffcoat
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During the first week of May the legendary Wairahi Tracks Charitable Trust trackies and the Mangawhai Trackies (both well known locally for building many of our walking tracks), were joined by the RNZAF with a goal to ‘cut in’ a new section of walking trail that passes over the Waorahi Conservation Estate in the ranges. Councillor Rick Stolwerk, who represents the council’s local Coastal South constituency, says the project has grown significantly over the past year.
“It’s great to see all the long-standing volunteers getting a boost and some muscle power in the form of support from the Airforce to tackle and expand the mahi in the area.”
The track cutting work will open up an important alternative track to the public, moving walkers off the public roadside to enjoy the natural landscape and seascape of the area by travelling via a connected network of tracks where native birds are flourishing again after a concerted effort to tackle rats, possum and mustelids. The Stay tuned for the track details and location once the final work is completed and its ready to enjoy.
It was hard slog for several days but the teams from the Department of Conservation Reserve, Northland Regional Council, Piroa Conservation Trust (PCT) group and the NZ Air Force joined together and installed a bait station network in the ranges. The bait station installation is a great step to support the national, regional, and local ‘Predator Free 2050’ initiative by extending existing intensive predator control into the reserve which is currently uncontrolled.
The bait station network will mean that the team can reduce the rat and possum populations prior to the spring bird nesting season as these pests are a major threat to the survival of many of our native birds during nesting.
The week included guest speakers from Kiwi Coast & GoodWood Aotearoa who talked through protecting our native birdlife and the rewards being seen in the area and outlying islands.
None of this work would have been possible without the dedicated project team Peter Hunt (PCT), F/S Sandi Cooper, Graeme Giles (PCT), Waorahi ranger Steve McKee, WGCDR Phil Jackson, Adele Mangnall (PCT), and FLTLT Mike Jeffcoat and support from sponsors.
The week demonstrated how teamwork and partnerships across organisations can greatly satisfying for all involved. Julia Brady and Kallan Mehrtens (both DOC Biodiversity Rangers) had “an awesome time working with the RNZAF and it is very exciting and encouraging to see so many organisations come together for such a great cause”.
Air Force helped the team meet major milestone in conservation and recreational plans in the area that would otherwise take many months to complete.
Thanks to DOC and NRC for their ongoing partnership with PCT and the Waorahi Conservation estate, all the volunteers but most of all our special guests the RNZAF.
Once again, the Royal New Zealand Air Force returned to help us progress work on the Waorahi Track.
A team of 20 staff came for a day of hard work and to experience the amazing environment we all enjoy so much. Work progressed very well thanks to the incredible effort of all involved.
The Mangawhai Trackies have been instrumental in continuing the work over past weeks and in guiding the RNZAF work on the day. Massive thanks to both the RNZAF and the Mangawhai Trackies for their remarkable efforts.
The track is another recreational track through amazing landscape where serious conservation work is under way. Waorahi is 200 acres of native bush newly added to PCTs pest control programme: the great work will further enable safe habitat for native species to flourish in the ranges.
Once completed the track will provide easier access for teams to manage animal and plant pests along with providing a new walkway for the community to experience.
The native bush is already seeing the return of many native birds and regrowth of the understory now that rats and possums have largely been controlled, if not eradicated. The work at Waorahi has also included the removal of many pest plants including areas of wild pine.
Bruce (the owner of Waorahi) is one of the areas’ 5 Minute Bird Count team which has now completed the monitoring on Waorahi. The monitoring will provide a benchmark for future years’ comparisons and quantitative evidence on the impact of the pest control work.
Thanks to the teams at both the Mangawhai Meat Shop and the Waipu Four Square for putting on the BBQ for the day’s workers. The group enjoyed a well-deserved swim and BBQ at the Waipu Surf Club to finish the day. We greatly appreciate the sponsorship of our local businesses!
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