May 2019 Newsletter

May 2019 Newsletter

Volunteer Trips

During May there were only 2 volunteer trips to the island due to cancellations of 4 trips - 1 Fullers and 3 Red Boats. However, on the Sunday there were 58 adult volunteers and 11 regulars and midweek 50 adult volunteers and 5 regulars. A total of 420 trees planted. 

The next volunteer days are:

Sunday 9th June FULL for volunteers
23 June FULL for volunteers
7 July & 21 July FULL for volunteers
There are mid week trips on June 12, 20, 28
FULL for volunteers, July 10, 19, 31

Editor's Comment Newsletter number 50

This May 2019 newsletter marks a significant anniversary for this editor. September 2014 was the first faltering effort to get regular news out to those interested in the activities on Motuihe. The newsletter has developed considerably since then and now that we are using Mailchimp, it is easier to edit and the layout is much better. The newsletters give numbers of volunteers and trees planted to assist with grant applications and for DoC statistics. They are kept on file both digitally and on paper to form a comprehensive archive. I am always interested in stories about the island if anyone would like to make a contribution. 

Fiona Alexander
NOTE: There will not be a June newsletter as the editor will be overseas. There will be a combined June/July issue. 

Navy Reunion
On Saturday 15 February 2020 the men who did their navy basic training on Motuihe are holding a reunion on the island which will involve the installation of a plaque and the planting of a pohutukawa tree. The event is being co-ordinated by John Mills who was the ranger on Motuihe from 2008 to 2014. The men had a tough life which is reflected in the group's name "The Rock Survivors". If you wish to know more about this event email John on 

Kiosk Report Summer 2018 / 2019
The summer of 2018 / 2019 was long and balmy with beach weather weekends extending all the way through to Easter in late April.
A big thank you to all the Kiosk / Guide volunteers who gave their time over the summer – we broke all the previous records and it was great to see some new people joining the team.  
Kiosk operators and the Rangers worked well together – operators assisting with camper queries and when possible transporting equipment to and from the camping ground for a donation. John and Brendan were a great help with the house and transporting ice creams from the woolshed
Visitor numbers continue to increase as word spreads about what Motuihe has to offer – Bush Walks, Beaches, Camping and extensive range of native birds and of course Tuatara. All the good work of volunteers over the years to restore the flora and fauna on the Island finally made it viable for the Red Boats to commit to a daily service from Boxing Day to  Waitangi Day and weekends thereafter through to Easter, this  made Motuihe accessible to  many  visitors  who otherwise would not have been able to get there. Through the main holiday period and good weather weekends the boats were often full and on occasions two boats were required.
Part of the Red Boat package was to sell guided tours with proceeds going to the Motuihe Trust – the guided tours provided an enriched experience for visitors and we received good feed back from participants. I appreciate that guides were thrown in the deep end however all those involved were able to use the interpretive signage in conjunction with their own knowledge and stories to deliver an informative experience. The biggest day was 45 people which required us to enlist the help of the summer weed contractors who did a great job.
Over the summer the kiosk was open for 52 days to provide information to visitors and refreshments  - sales over the season were 41% up on prior year excluding proceeds from guiding - based on an average sale per person of $4 the kiosk had a touch point with 6,000 visitors.
The Red Boat service in conjunction with DOC made it easier for Kiosk / Guide volunteers to get out to the Island – the eftpos system was more reliable albeit the sales APP was more challenging than the previous version – and thankfully the solar power system ran smoothly.
Recently we received excellent feedback from kiosk/ guide volunteers for improvements for  next summer as summarised below  - we will plan a training session which we will run on a Sunday in November.
Accommodation – volunteer house improvements and availability for kiosk/ guide volunteers. Separate accommodation for summer weeding contractors
Eftpos system – find a simpler user-friendly APP
Kiosk make over – remove non-essential equipment and upgrade information displays
Guide & Kiosk operator training 
Thank you once again – your input is appreciated and the results speak for themselves
Stuart Macintosh
Training Days
The Motuihe Basics evening saw 15 new(ish) volunteers hear about the wide-ranging  history and activities on Motuihe – a good taster for finding out more.  Thanks to Lois, Fiona, Jill, John and Hazel

Nursery Training Day 18 May 2019
As shown in the photo 11 people gave up a valuable Saturday (family and friends time) to water taxi across to Motuihe to learn about the workings of the nursery. As promised, it was a "hands on" course which hopefully gave the attendees the confidence in the future to assist and even lead nursery activities.  As the group walked to the nursery they did some plant identification and in and around the nursery the focus was on assessing priorities. Topics covered included seed collection, storage and sowing, pricking out, weeding, watering as well as woolshed set up and departure.  With such enthusiastic volunteers we comprehensively covered all the topics listed by Lois thus giving us time to put into practice the new skills learnt.
It was a pleasure for Phil and me to share our knowledge and we were particularly pleased with the standard of the Q & A sessions. For those who missed the day due to other commitments make yourselves known and join us as we put into practice what we have learnt.
Thank you to Hazel for her organizing of the event and of course to Jeanette and Jackie for the home baking.
 Jill Bishop
Nursery training group Saturday 18 May. From front left Jeanette Meehan, Miranda Wagg, Jackie Rutherford, Phil Francis (instructor), Wes Wana, Ann Johnson, Yvonne Learmonth, Joce Service, Glenda Lock, Ulrike Stephan, Carolyn Mackenzie, Caroline Scanlan, and Jill Bishop (instructor) took the photo. 

Weeds and Weeding workshop:  Michael Jenkins  ( one time Motuihe ranger, and now weeding contractor) will run  an evening on Monday 29 July  7 pm to 9 pm at OBC, 7 Tamaki Drive.  This is open to all Motuihe volunteers, and to OBC members, and will cover how to identify weeds found on the island and elsewhere, and instructions on the best way of eliminating or controlling these weeds.  Motuihe Trust puts a lot of resources into weed control on the island and relies on volunteers both to report weeds and for active weeding groups, so we hope lots of you will come and take advantage of Michael’s expertise.  Please register for this evening with

Sea Change Plan
Motuihe Island is part of the 1.2 million hectare Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. The Hauraki Gulf is in trouble with fish stocks down, sediment levels rising and population pressure. An ambitious plan to save the gulf, developed over 4 years and launched in 2016, has floundered due to lack of funding and conflicting interests. However, it has been revised with the ministers of conservation and fishing getting involved to implement the plan. It is hoped to put 20% of the gulf into marine reserves and restore 1000 sq km of reef and shellfish beds, plus a number of other initiatives. The Motuihe Trust's chairman, John Laurence is also chairman of the Mussel Reef Restoration Trust. Quote from John: "Placing mussels on the seafloor is like planting trees to create a forest, in providing habitat and food sources, plus they are amazing at filtering out sediment. Each mussel can filter a bath tub of water a day". For the gulf's sake, let's hope this new call for action will result in real change. 

Navigation buoy returns

During May 2018 the port navigation buoy marking the reef between the wharf and the Motuihe channel escaped from its mooring and washed up on a little cove near the ramp. It has now been reinstated making the trip around that corner of Motuihe much safer for boats, particularly yachts with deep keels.

Balls for children to play with
Sometimes small children come with our volunteers. They can easily get bored with potting up plants. We have placed a string bag (beautifully crocheted by Margaret) full of balls at the top of the stairs in the woolshed. Children can help themselves and go out to the grass area across the road from the nursery (now very tidy thanks to John).  

Congratulations to the Motutapu Restoration Trust
A kiwi was caught on camera crossing the causeway from Motutapu to Rangitoto. Their kiwi translocation must have been so successful that kiwis are branching out and looking for new territory. It is believed that kiwis have never been on Rangitoto before so it is an exciting development. 

Waka/vaka visit 
Over the summer, a traditional design voyaging waka was seen on Wharf Bay beach. I have just become aware of the story behind this visit. A German philanthropist has funded the building of seven 72 foot sea going wakas, built by Salthouse boat builders (2 are to stay in New Zealand). Lloyd Stevenson, an Auckland boat builder, has also built seven 50 foot  voyaging wakas. The purpose of this programme is to improve transport for people and goods in remote Pacific Islands. This particular one is going to Palua Island in the Caroline Islands in Micronesia. The captain for the delivery trip up there is Peia Patai of Tonga.  Before it is delivered, the Stevensons shouted their staff a trip out on the waka to lovely Motuihe for a picnic and celebration of the successful completion of this worthwhile project. (waka = Maori vaka = polynesian)
Photo by Paul Jensen

Volunteer House
The Volunteer House/Top House/DoC House on Motuiihe (it probably has other names I have not heard) has been closed by DoC while structural issues are checked and repaired. At the moment, no one is to enter the house. We will keep you informed of progress.


5 May Sunday volunteer day
Another beautiful autumn day, sunny, warm and calm. A total of 58 volunteers with 11 regulars had a great day. An amazingly diverse mix of trees were planted near bald knob: karaka, taraire, kowhai, puriri, titoki, kanuka, manuka, flax, karamu, cabbage tree, coastal mahoe, arboreus, akeake, mahoe, ngaio. Wow! 320 plants. In the nursery 554 poro poro were potted up. It was great to see Phil out on the island again and looking so well. He and John Mackenzie working on fixing the irrigation system. A big thank you to everyone.

9 May 2019 Mid Week Red boat trip
Groups from Westpac, Chorus and Auckland University Finance Team joined by John Laurence, Simon, Jill, Jeanette and new recruit Colin set off to Motuihe on yet another beautiful autumn day.  Film crew representing Auckland Council....Damien and Ben...and Volunteering Auckland photographer Judy were also on board the Red Boat as we chugged our way to our special place. Apart from no tea bags on board the trip was smooth sailing until a volunteer reported smoke coming from the upstairs speaker.  Jill yelled “FIRE” at which point Sam grabbed the fire extinguisher and was upstairs as quick as lightning leaving Jax at the helm!  Impressive response from Sam as he detached offending speaker.  As we frequently say our trip to the island on the Red Boat is all about the journey!
Up at the woolshed we divided our groups into nursery team (supervised by Jeanette and Colin), Jill’s team planting in area of Fiona’s Folly (read pond) and the “hardcore weeders” disappeared off with John and Simon. Jill’s team quickly planted 100 canopy and coloniser trees so they moved onto Tieke track to collect Kohekohe seeds. A very fruitful exercise. Back at the nursery the team pricked out 140 Putaputaweta, 270 Kohekohe, and 160 Poroporo and bagged 20 tea bags for Simon (they have been hidden on the Red Boat so never again will he have to drink boiled water with milk!!!).  As well as all the huge effort on the pricking out Jeanette and Colin’s crew also weeded the Nikau and sowed 1 tray of Kahikitea, 2 trays of Rewa Rewa and 6 trays of Kohekohe.  Meanwhile out in the valleys Simon’s “hardcore team” slashed and bashed gorse and Woolley.
At lunchtime the barbecues were put to good use. After lunch groups split off into those who wanted to chill at the beach or walk Tieke track. All in all a very rewarding day with plenty of still and video footage of hard working volunteers (nearly 50 in total) assisting with the restoration of Motuihe.  Thanks to all.
Jill Bishop

19 May Public volunteer day
Ferry cancelled due to weather. Also a Red Boat trip on this day.

Volunteering Information
To volunteer for a Sunday trip you need to do two things. Firstly register with the Trust by emailing Fiona at Secondly phone Fullers on 3679111 to reserve a planter's seat. On the day go to pier one before 9 am and collect a volunteer card from one of our Motuihe people near the pier one ticket office. Take this volunteer card and your seat reservation number to the ticket office to buy a discounted planter's ticket for $24.50 and $12.60 for a child. 

Fuller’s Sunday ferries to Motuihe 2019


Depart Downtown Auckland

Depart Motuihe

9 June


3.30 FULL

23 June


3.30 FULL

7 July



21 July


3.30 FULL 

4 August



18 August




FULL means we do not require any more public volunteers. However there is still a need for our regular team leaders. 


Mid Week Trips
To book email Simon Sheen on
These trips use a range of transport depending on the size of the group.

Thursday 20 June

Friday 28 June

Wednesday 10 July

Friday 19 July 

Wednesday 31 July

Motuihe Volunteer Trip Update & Biosecurity Guidelines:

Always check 0800 6688443 after 7 am on Sunday morning  to check that the trip has not been cancelled due to weather.
Please follow these simple biosecurity guidelines:
Before you leave the mainland, check your gear for rats, mice, Argentine ants, rainbow skinks, soil and seeds.
Clean your footwear.
Do not bring open bags/boxes/containers or plastic bags - pests can easily 'hitch a ride' in these. 

See for more information