December 2020 Newsletter

December 2020 Newsletter

No. 53
During December there were 3 volunteer trips to Motuihe involving 80 adults, 6 children and 14 of our leaders. 

The next volunteer days are: 
Water taxi trips to keep the weeds under control:
All Sunday trips leave from Okahu Bay at 8.30 am and Motuihe at 4 pm and cost $25 pp.
January 10
January 24
February 14
February 28
March 14
March 28
Email Fiona on if you would like to volunteer for weeding on any of these dates.

Wetapunga Release – Te Motu-a-Ihenga Wednesday 2 December
Another fantastic milestone for Motuihe Restoration Project.  For those who participated in the Wetapunga release, it was a very memorable day and thoroughly enjoyed by young and old.
A team of 10 travelled out to Motuihe earlier in the day courtesy of OBC member Sandy Hamilton.  This group included Don MacFarlane, Ben Goodwin of Auckland Zoo, Zoo media and Motuihe volunteers led by Julie Thomson who organised the catering and set up the woolshed for a wonderful post release dinner.  Thanks to Julie and the team for the fabulous meal and thank you to Sandy for her valuable assistance in providing transport out to Motuihe.
The main group travelled on Dreamweaver from Z Pier with the decision made to land at Calypso Bay due to its close proximity to the release site.  After everyone was transported to the beach, Iwi provided a warm welcoming powhiri and karakia with a response led by Trustee Max Smitheram on behalf of Motuihe Trust.  The group then walked along the shoreline to Ohinerau Bay and up to the release site in Von Luckners Bush. 
Auckland Zoo Ectotherms team leader, Don MacFarlane acknowledged the great support of Iwi, DOC and Motuihe Trust which had allowed Auckland Zoo to be able to breed and release approximately 1100 Wetapunga onto Motuihe.  Don gave a brief background of the Zoo’s Ectotherm breeding programme.  With the Wetapunga only naturally found on Hauturu-o-Toi (Little Barrier), releases onto Motuora, Tiritiri Matangi, and the Noises’ Otata and Motuhoropapa islands are now producing second generations.  Don advised that down the track more islands could receive these little critters via wild-to-wild translocations to further safeguard their future.
A huge vote of thanks to Dreamweaver crew who provided complimentary transport to and from the island.  Coming back to Auckland in the evening gave everyone onboard a different perspective of the city nightlights.
Motuihe Trust acknowledges the tremendous support of Foundation North for providing the funds to enable this translocation.  It was great to have Chris Severn joining us in this momentous event.
On behalf of Motuihe Trust, thank you to all those who assisted behind the scenes to make this release another success in the restoration of Motuihe Island.  Well done.
Lois Badham
Photos all provided by Lois

TVNZ link. Acknowledgement TVNZ

Radio NZ link: Acknowledgement RNZ

Calypso Bay welcome (left), Auckland Zoo Ben Goodwin with mature female Wetapunga (right)

Mature female Wetapunga (left).  Trust Chairman John Laurence & Auckland Zoo Don MacFarlane (right)

Chris Severn Foundation North Wetapunga Sponsor (left).  Post release woolshed dinner (right)

Acknowledgement and thanks to Dreamweaver for complimentary wetapunga release transport 

Summer Contractors
We welcome our summer contractors for the 2020/2021 season. Steph Loughnan (on the left) is currently a student in Environmental Management and will graduate very soon.  She hopes to work for a local  authority doing something related to her qualifications. Bella Burgess (on the right) has qualified BSC in ecology. She hopes to work in New Zealand in conservation particularly botanical conservation. They are on the island at least to the end of January. A big welcome to both of you.

Christopher Gouldstone, the son of one of our volunteers, took this photo out of the window of the plane he flew back to What a gem!

Wharf Update
DoC has advised that all going well the Motuihe wharf will be repaired and safe to use in a few months. Motuihe Trust is very grateful to DoC for making this happen to enable volunteers and visitors to visit the amazing beaches and bush. 

Motuihe Gecko Survey  - Dec 12 and 13      2020
Thanks to our mid Nov maintenance Team our two grids of 40 to 50 stations were ready and relatively easy to find for our Team of sixteen volunteers. It was great to have all our very experienced volunteers leading our very enthusiastic newbies in five teams of three people. The weather was perfect for the job. It was warm but overcast and the wind kept us cool in the very open area of the Raukawa grid below Bald Knob. The Team saw lots of healthy Raukawa geckos, many gravid females and family groups especially in the coastal real estate. The teams checking the perimeter of the outer zone coped with the steep site and the gorse but collected evidence that the Raukawa geckos are definitely now established in the outer zone. 

The monitoring team activated and checked 44 stations in the Duvaucel/Pacific Grid. The Duvaucels dominated the tracking tunnels with their gorgeous fat footprints and seemed to enjoy the extra-large slices of banana. We were excited to see as many Pacific Geckos as we did Duvaucels. The two populations seem to be less dense in the inner core stations but the Duvaucels, in particular have occupied the outer zone stations for the first time.
We were grateful to have Steve at the helm of his new and larger Sea Shuttle to get the whole team safely back to Okahu Bay in spite of very rough sea conditions on Sunday evening.
Julie Thomson

Dreamweaver Trip – Saturday 5th December

Welcome back to the Isthmus team of 33 adults, 6 children plus 4 Motuihe leaders on Dreamweaver for their annual trip.  After a brief rundown by Alan on what the programme was for the day, followed by a Health & Safety briefing, Ranger Patrick transported their equipment up to the woolshed.  Although the day was cloudy the temperature was perfect for volunteer work.
Chris Wadsworth and I headed off with an enthusiastic team of 12 and tackled a large amount of woolly nightshade, along with rhamnus in grid H07 not too far from the woolshed. Grid H07 was planted around 2007 however the planted bush growth since then has been phenomenal and what was so heartening to see was the massive amount of regeneration taking place from Karo, Mahoe, Karaka, Kohekohe and more.  Alas we temporarily lost two of the team in the bush  however with the excellent lunch provided; the two guys weren’t missing for long.  The rest of the group worked with Phil and Frances in the nursery pricking out 260 toetoe, 56 manuka, 30 mixed pohutukawa and titoki.
After a quick lunch, there was time for a brief walk through Tieke Track out to Rotary point and back to the wharf to head home.
A big thanks to Alan England for organising another great team day on Motuihe.  A fantastic, energetic group who were a pleasure to work with.
Lois Badham

Dreamweaver, Wednesday 9th December
PwC had its annual volunteer trip on Wednesday 9th leaving at a civilized 9am on the Dreamweaver from pier Z.  Forecast rain was replaced with blue sky for a gentle trip over and tender to the block.  Of the 37 PwCers 21 came out weeding with David, Simon, Suzanne and 'other' David.  Enthusiastic, young, fit and having fun was their approach which saw us south of the paper clip finding plenty of youngish moth and decent sized woolies.  We arrived there via the Tieke track which  gave everyone an opportunity to experience the island's 'signature' walk and envisage how much of the island will look like that in a few decades.  The rest of the crew did some solid weeding with Jane in the nursery, where it's increasingly difficult to find a decent weed among the seedlings!  BBQ lunch went down well following which 'free time' included swimming, beach clean, rugby and a few swimmers back to the Dreamweaver.  Highlight of the return trip was spotting the Leopard seal on the pontoons at Westhaven.  Lovely day with a great bunch and then it rained once we got back.
Simon Sheen

Water Taxi trip Sunday 13 December
15 brave volunteers set out despite a forecast of 20-25 knot SW winds gusting 35 knots. The forecast turned out to be fairly accurate, however the trip was not too rough, except for the return trip through the Motuihe Channel. Seashuttle's new bigger boat is a catamaran and remarkably stable. A productive day with a variety of work carried out. Jill and Lois led the weeding team of Han, Jacqui, Tyson and David. They eliminated woolies, rhamnus, and moth plant in a sizeable area in the centre of the island. Phil and Rebecca worked on the irrigation system, repaired the shade cloth and started the work on rebuilding the plastic house. Dina and Claire sowed 720 kakabeak seeds, potted up 36 kawakawa and approx 50 puriri. Brian with the assistance of Fiona completed the shower door and drain and also added a lock to the back right cubicle in the wool shed. John and Stuart worked on the tractor and Stuart also prepared for the kiosk season. Julie's 15 strong reptile monitoring group were on the island and reported numerous signs or geckos. Well done everyone, a good day with lots achieved. 

You know it is going to be a rough trip home in the water taxi when the life jackets are handed out!

Fluttering Shearwater update
Kerry Lukies from the Northern Seabirds Trust travelled with us on the water taxi on 13 Dec and checked out the fluttering shearwaters. She reported that the chick is doing well and will fledge in about 3 weeks.

Shearwater chick Dec 2020 photo by Jackie Rutherford.

The Motuihe Trust wishes all our supporters a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thanks to everyone for your outstanding support during a year of challenges. This has been an incredibly difficult year, 2021 MUST be better!! However, the project has kept ticking over with weeding, maintenance, monitoring and training continuing due to the perseverance of our volunteers and we are hoping for an early start to planting in 2021 to make up for 2020. Have a well earned rest everyone and return to the project refreshed in January.