May 2023 Newsletter

May 2023 Newsletter


There was one volunteer planting trip to Motuihe in May with 38 volunteers a film crew of 3 and 7 Trust leaders. 150 trees were planted. Two trips were cancelled due to weather.

Weta Punga release
Unfortunately the big day that was planned for the release of 30 adult Weta Punga on Wednesday 10 May had to be cancelled due to weather. On Friday 12th two Zoo staff, Ben Goodwin and Nic Charlton with Jon Hind representing the Trust released the Wetas as they could not be held in their bamboo containers any longer.
Ben and Nic were able to tell me that the 30 released on the 12th were equally male and female and it is expected that they will breed and help with the conservation of this threatened species. At around 1900 they were only found on Little Barrier but with the breeding programme at the zoo they have been released on several islands around the Gulf and also in the Bay of Islands.
Weta Pungas are the heaviest insect in the world and they will add to the biodiversity on Motuihe. They are released by tying a bamboo tube to a tree and allowing them to come out at night. There is a high chance of survival. They only live in the northern half of the north island. There are 11 species of Weta all endemic to New Zealand. There are other types of giant grass hoppers in other countries. Weta Punga means god of ugly things and the genus is demon grass hopper.

Jon Hind and Ben Goodwin examine a Weta Punga (photo Jon Hind)

The Wharf

An engineer's report showed that the 3 main areas of damage after cyclone Garbrielle are damage to the decking at the abutment, bending of the brackets that join the deck to the piles, and a hole has been carved into the sea wall near the wharf. Huge waves must have hit the wharf to do this sort of damage. However, DoC are going to get the repairs done and they hope to have the wharf back open in July. 

Damage at the abutment (photo Commercial Dive Engineers)

Damage to the sea wall (photo Commercial Dive Engineers)


Friday 12 May Dreamweaver trip
After a week of shocking weather 38 volunteers from ASB and Access group, as well as three tv film crew (with an impressive collection of equipment) took the Dreamweaver for a tender/block arrival.  Already on the island, via the Doc boat, were John, Phil, Jon Hind and 30 adult wetapunga under the guardianship of two Zoo staff. The insect (the world’s largest) release was in lieu of the cancelled public release the previous Wednesday. The film crew followed events closely for a documentary to be shown on tv3 later this year.
150 plants in the ground, weeding success and the nursery in good order. Trees planted included Totara, Puriri, Kanuka, Kowhai. The planting area was above Calypso Bay leading around to Billy Goat Point. Colin and Phil S headed to the T junction at the top of the Tieke track. From there a weeding team headed down hill roughly towards the extension track for moth and wooly extermination. Simon headed out to an area south of the snapper bay track turn with a team of four to bag 2x bin liners with juicy moth pods. Ann and Elizabeth put in a sterling effort in the nursery moving plants to different areas and fertilising the Kakabeak which are beginning to flower. A productive day.
Simon Sheen/Phil Francis

Friday 19 May Cancelled due to weather
Sunday 28 May Cancelled due to weather

Saturday Sunday 27/28 May Kiwi Listening weekend