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					       OCCASIONAL NEWSLETTER
                      Published by
       Department of Conservation,
         Kapiti Area, P.O. Box 141,
                         Waikanae
                 Issue 3, July 2006




   April Fools                        Kiwi Conservation Club (KCC) kids got a special treat on April Fools
    Day treat                         Day with a visit to Mana Island. Sixteen Forest and Birds kids ages 4–12
                                      and fifteen parents from the Wellington and Kapiti region spent the day
                                      exploring the natural flora and fauna of the island. The group enjoyed a
                                      welcoming talk by Hugh Gardiner upon arrival where they learned about
                                      conservation efforts on Mana.
                                      KCC kids and island staff walked to
                                      the north-east area of the island where
                                      they removed nova coil (which is used
                                      to protect young plants from pukeko
                                      damage). Students were thrilled to
                                      see wëtä, skinks and geckos hiding
                                      among the plantings.
                                      Later the group explored the historic
                                      woolshed and were most interested
                                      in the shed lizard skins on the
                                      woodwork. The children finished the
                                      day with a beach clean-up along the
                                      shoreline where they picked up 6–7
    Kiwi Conservation Kids
    lend a helping hand on
                                      rubbish bags full of items such as
                     Mana.            old gloves, beer cans, fish netting
    Photo: Craig Thomson.             and a plethora of plastic items.


Mana Island                           Similar to a scene in a sheep dog trial show, DOC staff and Massey
    takahë                            University volunteers carefully shepherded takahë into a net pen where
                                      the birds were checked for overall health status and blood samples taken
  roundup                             for health screening. Twenty of the 41 birds on the island were captured
                                      and this year’s chicks banded.
                                      This year three Mana takahë will be transferred to Maud, Tiritiri Matangi
                                      and Maungatautari Islands while Mana will gain one new takahë from Maud.
                                                                            These exchanges will increase the
                                                                            genetic mixing between the islands.
                                                                            “There are an estimated 313 takahë
                                                                            left in the world,” says Dr Kerri-
                                                                            Anne Edge, Takahë Recovery Group
                                                                            Leader with DOC. “Ninety-six of these
                                                                            birds live on predatory free islands
                                                                            around New Zealand and each year
      DOC staff and Massey
                                                                            we move some of these between the
University volunteers check
       the health of takahë.
                                                                            islands to prevent closely related
  Photo: Jason Christensen.                                                 birds from mating.”
  A helping                      Last year before the breeding season, Friends of Mana Island (FOMI)
   hand for                      volunteers spent several days cleaning käkäriki nest boxes on Mana Island.
                                 Yellow-crowned parakeets were reintroduced to the island in May 2004 as
Mana Island                      part of an ecological restoration initiative. Wooden nest boxes placed in
  käkäriki                       trees throughout the bush provide secure nesting areas for the käkäriki. Each
                                 year the boxes are cleaned and records made of any nesting attempts.
                                 Sharyn Gunn, volunteer with Friends of Mana Island, noted several käkäriki
                                 flying through the tree tops. “It is an incredible experience to hear the
                                 birds calling from the tops of trees in areas that were silent not long
                                 ago. The käkäriki appear to be doing very well.”
                                 Volunteers found that most of the nesting boxes contained starling nests
                                 but no eggs. All starling nests were discarded to allow the käkäriki to
                                 nest. Other things found in the nest boxes included a forgotten notebook
    Yellow-crowned käkäriki.     and pencil, tree wëtä, geckos and a family of bumble bees.
      Photo: R. Veitch / DOC     Volunteers placed a handful of wood chips into nest boxes to provide
                                 material for the käkäriki to lay their eggs on.
                                 A few pairs laid eggs in the wooden nest boxes as well as in holes in
                                 macrocarpa trees and one pair nested in a kingfisher’s burrow in the
                                 ground. Käkäriki numbers on Mana appear to be increasing; survival of
                                 adults and young is high.


        New                      Sardine smoothies and lots of human devotion will hopefully pay off for
residents on                     the latest sea bird species tricking them into believing Mana Island is
                                 “home.”
Mana Island
                                 Fluttering shearwater chicks hand raised by volunteers on the island during
           By Sue Galbraith
                                 January and February fattened up nicely and flew out to sea, hopefully
                                 to return to Mana Island to breed in the next five or six years.
                                 Forty of the sea birds were captured as nearly fully grown chicks from
                                 Long Island in the Marlborough Sounds in January and flown by helicopter
                                 to Mana Island where they were placed into artificial borrows and fed
                                 tinned sardines blended with oil land water until they were ready to
                                 fledge. It’s part of a plan by the Department of Conservation and Friends
                                 of Mana Island (FOMI) to restore the island’s ecology.
                                 DOC contractor, Helen Gummer, says one of the chicks died and another
                                 10 unexpectedly left the island within days of the transfer, which may
          Lynn Adams holds a     compromise their chances of survival.
     fluttering shearwater on
                  Long Island.   Fluttering shearwaters are the third sea bird species being transferred by
              Photo: Dick Gill   DOC and FOMI from Marlborough Sounds to Mana Island. Diving petrels
                                                                        transferred to the island during
                                                                        1997–99 have begun breeding there,
                                                                        and fairly prions transferred during
                                                                        2002–2004 are starting to return.
                                                                        This is the second ever transfer of
                                                                        fluttering shearwaters to an offshore
                                                                        island. A colony was also successfully
                                                                        re-established on Maud Island in the
                                                                        Marlborough Sounds.
                                                                         The project is being funded by FOMI
                                                                         through grants and donations, with
                                                                         support from Te Atiawa and Ngäti
                                                                         Toa. Up to 200 more birds will
                                                                         be taken to Mana Island over the
                                                                         following two to three years.




2                                Motu moments 3 July 2006
    Weeding     On-going duties on Mana include ridding the island of the pest weed
    projects    boxthorn. Last year most big plants were sprayed using a helicopter.
                Currently contract staff is searching all the accessible cliff areas for re-
    continue    growth, using loppers to cut the weed close to the ground and applying
                                                       herbicide to the stump.
                                                        In addition, Tony Henry, ranger
                                                        Mana Island, has started a five year
                                                        programme eradicating kikuyu grass.
                                                        There are several sites on the island
                                                        that are now fenced to keep takahë
                                                        out of the sprayed zones. All sites
                                                        have been sprayed once with the
                                                        selective herbicide Gallant and staff
                                                        have seen good results. All sites were
                                                        re-sprayed in May with a follow-up
                                                        check and possible re-spraying again
                                                        in spring or early summer.
                                                        Boxthorn.



  Minister of   The Minister of Conservation, Chris Carter, recently learned first hand
Conservation    about conservation efforts on Mana through a guided visit to the island.
                After a smooth boat ride over in the Department’s vessel, politicians, DOC
examines the    staff and media were greeted by takahë. Mana Island enjoys the second
  “rebirth of   largest population of takahë. Island staff maintain one-third of the island
Mana Island”    as grasslands which provides food for the endangered rail.
                                                     Hugh Gardiner, Field Centre supervisor,
                                                     explained the history of the island and
                                                     conservation efforts to the entourage.
                                                     Mana was farmed until 1985 and
                                                     declared a scientific reserve in 1987.
                                                     It is slowly being transformed back
                                                     to some of its former beauty through
                                                     the combined efforts of DOC staff,
                                                     Friends of Mana Island volunteers,
                                                     and representatives of Ngäti Toa.
                                                     Over 400,000 trees have been planted
                                                     on the island with further plantings
                                                     starting at the end of May by FOMI
                                                     volunteers and DOC staff. FOMI
                                                     volunteers will continue planting
                                                     some cover species such as taupata,
                                                     mähoe, ngaio, flax, and wharangi as
                                                     well as second successional species
                such as kohekohe, tawa, rimu, mataï, and miro to eventually recreate a
                network on the island consisting of grassland, shrub land and forest.
                Chris Carter enjoyed the views from the highest point of the island
                where there still remains the foundation of the old lighthouse which was
                erected in 1863 and first lit in 1865. Its light graced the water around
                Mana until 1877 when the lighthouse was shipped to Cape Egmont.
                Since the eradication of mice in 1991 and after several species transfers,
                the island has become a haven for native species such as brown teal,
                flax weevils, diving petrels, fairy prions, McGregor’s skinks, green geckos
                and most recently fluttering shearwaters. The Minister was impressed
                with conservation efforts under way and expressed his appreciation of
                the efforts by FOMI volunteers, sponsors and DOC staff.



                Motu moments 3 July 2006                                                    3
Endangered                        The North Island population of
weevils’ new                      speargrass weevil are living a precarious
                                  existence along Wellington’s south
lease on life                     coast but it is hoped several will
                                  thrive in their new home on Mana
                                  Island.
                                  Seven weevils were taken to Mana
         One of the speargrass
                                  Island and there are plans to move
             weevils that were    an additional 30 more. Mana has
    transferred to Mana Island.   an abundance of speargrass which
      Photo: Andrew Morrison.     this flightless weevil depends on
                                  for survival. They live and fed exclusively on speargrass where the adults
                                  feed on the leaves and shelter in leaf litter under the plant while the
                                  larvae live in the soil and feed on the plant roots.
                                  Andrew Morrison, DOC Poneke biodiversity ranger, hopes they will
                                  establish a self sustaining population so the Wellington region would
                                  not lose what is probably their most rare and endangered native animal.
                                  “These amazing creatures are under threat from habitat modification and
                                  introduced mammals such as mice and rats,” said Andrew.
                                  Friends of Mana Island have spearheaded the project with over $1000 in
                                  funding and volunteer support towards the weevil transfer. Brian Paget,
                                  president of FOMI is pleased with the transfer and the chance to offer
                                  a new haven for this rare and wonderful coastal species.


    New takahë                    DOC is taking steps to educate visitors to Kapiti about the life history
       signs for                  and management of takahë on the island. Three large informational panels
                                  are soon to be erected at the North end where visitors can read about
      north end                   these special birds as well as possibly see live ones in the area.
       of Kapiti                  The first takahë were welcomed to Kapiti Island in 1968. The birds soon
          Island                  adapted to the island and before long started raising chicks. Takahë breed
                                  once a season, laying an average of two eggs which hatch in about 30
                                  days. Usually only one chick survives to adulthood. The chicks eat insects
                                  early on then later switch to vegetation.
                                                                              In prehistoric times, takahë were
                                                                              found throughout much of New
                                                                              Zealand. By the end of the 19th
                                                                              century they were feared extinct
                                                                              because of habitat loss and predation
                                                                              by introduced pests such as stoats
                                                                              and dogs.
                                                                              Pest free islands such as Kapiti are an
                                                                              important haven for endangered birds
                                                                              like the takahë. DOC staff regularly
                                                                              monitor the island for any sign of
                                                                              introduced rodents and have a robust
                                                                              contingency plan in place in case
                                                                              any pest arrive on the island.

                                                                              The takahë information signs for the north end
                                                                              of Kapiti Island.




4                                 Motu moments 3 July 2006
    Teachers                  Twenty Kapiti Coast teachers explored
                                                                         NEW KAPITI ISLAND /
bring Kapiti                  Kapiti Island and scoured its coastal
                              shores in preparation to bringing          MARINE RESERVE
Island to the                 scientific information and conservation    EDUCATION KIT
  classroom                   messages to their classrooms.
                              Stacy Moore, DOC Waikanae, organised       The new Kapiti Island / Marine Reserve
                              the training workshop in which             Education kit is now complete and in
                              teachers investigated the new Kapiti       local classrooms! The kit offers “one
                              Island / Marine Reserve educational        stop shopping” for teachers or groups,
                              resources produced by DOC.                 and contains colourful posters, DVDs,
                                                                         videos, species cards, a myriad of books,
                                                                         and lesson plans that are linked to
                                                                         curriculum objectives. All lessons include
                                                                         aspects of “about, in, and for” the
                                                                         environment and specifically connect
                                                                         students to Kapiti Island and the Marine
                                                                         Reserve. To assist students in gaining
                                                                         maximum learning, the kit includes
                                                                         pre-field, field and post-field activities.
                                                                         Not all classes are able to get to the
                                                                         island or enjoy the marine reserve so
                                                                         the kit covers activities that students
                                                                         can enjoy in their classroom.
    Tom Graham and Anna       Upon arrival at Kapiti, teachers           The resource is housed at the Kapiti
 Turner from Paraparaumu      listened to the public talk which          Area Office and is available to the
         College, and Anna    introduced them to the history of          public free of charge.
  Montgomery from Kapiti
                              the island, rules for visitors, and
  College, view wildlife on                                              Contact Stacy Moore at 04-296 1161
                              information about plant and animal
  the Kapiti Island teacher                                              or slmoore@doc.govt.nz
 tour. Photo: Stacy Moore.    species and recent reintroductions
                              of endangered birds.
                              Teachers then delved into the kit which contains books, posters, DVDs, and
                              lesson plans which tie in directly to curriculum standards. The resource
                              covers subjects such as life history of plants and animals on the island
                              and marine reserve, maths, and conservation issues.
                              During a guided walk along the rocky shore, grassland and up into the
                              regenerating bush, the teachers learned about specific lessons they could
                              conduct with students. Evan Goodwin, Principal of Raumati South School,
                              said, “A teacher resource such as this is long overdue—I have never seen
                              anything like this and am sure it is going to get a lot of use.”


  Young and                   Families from Kapiti Mana Forest and Bird Kiwi Conservation Club were
  old revel at                overwhelmed with the bird life on Kapiti Island during a recent trip to
                              the reserve. Old and young alike explored the lowlands before heading up
 the bird life                the Trig Track were they admired hihi at the feeding stations, saddlebacks
    on Kapiti                 in the undergrowth and käkäriki flying overhead.
       Island                                                           Before heading home the KCC
                                                                        students conducted a beach clean-
                                                                        up and picked up items such as
                                                                        paint buckets, a soccer ball, plastic
                                                                        gloves and old fishing gear. “On
                                                                        the way home we were treated to
Sharyn Gunn teaches Forest
                                                                        viewing shearwaters and a little
    and Bird KCC members                                                blue penguin,” commented Forest
             about whales.                                              and Bird member Sharyn Gunn.
  Photo: Maurice Andrews.




                              Motu moments 3 July 2006                                                        5
      Kapiti’s                   Nearly 1000 people enjoyed fun and educational activities during the Kapiti
     Seaweek                     Coast’s Marvellous Marine Day—part of national Seaweek activities.
     honours                     The public were introduced by DOC’s Nadine Gibbs, Danica Devery-Smith
                                 and Ann McCrone to creatures that live in or near Kapiti Marine Reserve on
Kapiti Marine                    guided boat trips with Kapiti Tours. They introduced visitors to the plants
      Reserve                    and animals that call the ocean home and talked about the importance
                                 of marine reserves. People handled various marine exhibits on the boat,
                                 such as frozen sea birds and samples of whale baleen.
                                 Students from the Kapiti area
                                 embraced this year’s theme of “One
                                 Ocean,” and turned the message into
                                 artwork and creative pieces. Entries
                                 included PowerPoint shows showing
                                 the life of albatrosses, a movie, and
     Visitors on a guided boat   dioramas depicting the ocean floor
         tour of Kapiti Marine
                                 and sea creatures as well as an oil
                      Reserve.
          Photo: Sharyn Gunn.    tanker spilling oil. Several schools
                                 entered posters draped with seashells and depicting messages such as
                                 ‘Protect Our Seas!” Raumati South School teacher, Steve Aiken said, “The
                                 students had great fun making their Seaweek entries and they learned
                                 a lot about the marine environment along the way.” Kapiti College art
                                 teacher, Anna Montgomery was impressed with her students’ efforts. “We
                                 have incorporated Seaweek into our curriculum and the students really
                                 look forward to doing marine theme art pieces,” she said.


        Students                 Winners of this year’s Seaweek kids’ art competition recently cashed in
         explore                 their winning prize—a special DOC-sponsored day exploring marine and
                                 terrestrial habitats on Kapiti Island. The Minister of Conservation heard
        nature’s                 about the stunning Seaweek artwork that the students completed and sent
      classroom                  signed certificates to the schools to be given to winning students.
                                 Students from Raumati South School, Kapiti College, and Reikorangi Christian
                                 College learned about conservation efforts on Kapiti Island through an
                                 introductory talk upon arrival to the island. Gathering around an ancient
                                                                        whale pot, students examined pieces
                                                                        of baleen and talked about historic
                                                                        whaling in the area.
                                                                     A biodiversity scavenger hunt was
                                                                     a highlight for many students as
     Raumati South Students:
    Vanessa Duffell, Georgia
                                                                     they fossicked amongst the kelp and
       Hutcheon, and Abbey                                           rocky shores looking for a variety of
       Welch examine whale                                           marine creatures such as limpets, sea
 baleen. Photo: Stacy Moore.                                         anemones, crabs and sand hoppers.
                                 Students discussed ways in which these animals are adapted to living in
                                 harsh marine environments.
                                 Following lunch students experienced the Kapiti Marine Reserve first hand
                                 through a guided trip in the DOC boat piloted by ranger Dave Wrightson.
                                 Becci Luke exclaimed, “The boat trip was really exciting because we
                                 went over bumps and saw a little blue penguin!”
                                 Several students concluded the day by snorkelling in the marine reserve.
                                 For Kody Stuart it was the first time she had ever been snorkelling, “It
                                 was cold but awesome—really worth doing!”
                                 Stacy Moore, DOC community relations Kapiti Area Office, was impressed
                                 with the number of students who participated in Seaweek and the quality
                                 of their artwork. “I always enjoy taking students out into nature where they
                                 can learn first hand about the importance of our marine environment.”



 6                               Motu moments 3 July 2006
   More bats                    Three more short-tailed bats were
    released                    released onto Kapiti Island earlier
                                this year. They joined bats transferred
  onto Kapiti                   last year in a ground-breaking project
       Island                   to save from possible extinction a
          By Sue Galbraith      colony of bats in the Tararua Range.
                                There are now at least a dozen short-
            Short-tailed bat.   tailed bats on Kapiti Island.
  Photo: Brian Lloyd / DOC.     Over three years, pregnant bats are
                                being taken from the Tararua Forest Park to Pukaha Mount Bruce to give
                                birth. When they are old enough to start flying, the pups are then taken
                                to Kapiti Island and their mums returned to Tararua Forest Park.
                                The most recent release suffered a set back when eight of the 14 pups
                                born in January at the Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre died
                                after being bitten by an aggressive adult. At least nine of the original 20
                                pups transferred to Kapiti Island last year are known to still be there.
                                They were successfully treated for a condition causing scabs on their
                                ears and still return to the aviary to roost.
                                A warm fleece hung on the wall of the enclosure offers them a snug place
                                to roost during the day. Island staff have 20 containers of meal worms
                                at hand to feed the bats. Extra nutrients are added to the meal worms
                                and are fed to the young bats each day along with honey water.
                                The results of the project look encouraging to date despite the loss
                                of some pups, which also occurs in the wild. As well as establishing
                                a new population, it has provided an opportunity to further develop
                                bat husbandry and transfer techniques that will benefit bat conservation
                                throughout the world.


          Iwi                   While DOC can take care of the physical aspects and logistics of species
 involvement                    transfers to and from Kapiti and Mana Islands, it is the local iwi who
                                attend to the animals’ spiritual well being.
   in species
                                Tuki Takiwa of Te Ati Awa ki Whakarongotai first became involved in
    transfers                   bird transfers on Kapiti in 1996 when several species were taken off the
                                island to protect them during rat eradication.
                                Birds are regarded by iwi as taonga—treasures. The birds are given a karakia,
                                usually by a kaumätua, before leaving one island and again on arrival at
                                their new home. Jack Rikihana who has been involved in transfers says,
                                “It is fitting that all the birds receive a blessing to keep them safe on
                                their journey, as well as welcoming any new species that arrive on Kapiti.”
                                New Zealand’s unstable weather can make transfers difficult, however. “It
                                is not always easy to welcome new birds and provide a karakia, as the
                                weather can make travel precarious at times,’ commented Jack.
                                In early April, 20 North Island robins were taken from Kapiti Island to Matiu /
                                Somes as part of the restoration and rejuvenation of that island. They
                                are expected to thrive there in native vegetation that has been planted
                                                                         over the years by Forest and Bird
 Members of Te Ati Awa ki                                                volunteers. Ian Cooksley, DOC Kapiti
   Whakarongotai welcome                                                 Area Manager, has been involved
    a new takahë on Kapiti
                                                                         with several species transfers, “An
                     Island.
 From left: Dave Wrightson                                               interesting aspect of iwi involvement
      and son Yuri, Rodney                                               in species management, including
Moffat, Shaun, Tuki Takiwa,                                              transfers, is that invariably you
 Ake Taiaki, Repeka Parata,                                              learn something new each time,”
             Damian Parata.
                                                                         said Ian.
   Photo: Jacqui Mcintosh.




                                Motu moments 3 July 2006                                                     7
    Shelter,                      The north end of Kapiti Island opened
 toilets and                      to the public on 1 July under a
                                  permit system. A visitor shelter was
    track in                      built by Levin builder Rod Feasey.
   place on                       It was designed by Taupo architect
north end of                      Fraser Cameron to fit the contours
      Kapiti                      of the island, withstand high winds
                                  and corrosion, and blend in with the
            By Sue Galbraith
                                  environment. “We’ve sited it in a
   People wanting to visit        natural depression to help protect it
  Kapiti Island North End         form the extreme marine environment
   can apply for a permit         and make it less obtrusive,” says Kapiti
     from the Wellington          Area visitor assets programme manager
Conservation Information          Wayne Boness.
                  Centre.
                                  A 4-km loop track up the Okupe
      Phone 04-472 7356.
                                  Valley to a lookout at the ridgetop
                                  offers spectacular views. On clear days
                                  Mount Egmont can be seen to the           Jody Gaylord, Peter Moore and John Gaylord
                                  north and views of the lagoon and       enjoy the new track at the north end of Kapiti.
                                  the Tararua Range to the east. The                                 Photo: Stacy Moore.
                                  track’s gradient should provide comfortable walking for most visitors.


      Hihi                        Hihi are a vulnerable endemic species with only one natural, self-sustaining
management                        population on Hauturu (Little Barrier Island). Several transfers to other
                                  islands and mainland reserves have been made over the past 20 years.
           DOC and the hihi
                                  The population on Kapiti Island currently requires direct management but
    appreciate the continued
      support from Software
                                  the long term goal is to establish a self-sustaining population.
       Education Associates.      Monitoring of Kapiti Island hihi has indicated that it is unlikely they will
                                  survive without direct management until the vegetation composition has
                                  changed sufficiently to support a hihi population year-round.
                                  To maintain the current population and to work towards a self-sustaining
                                  population, DOC hired Ian Price to provide supplementary feeding and
                                  monitor the population, including surveying and banding birds. Ian said
                                  supplementary feeding is necessary because of the lack of natural food available
                                  all year, and competition for the natural food that is available.
                                                                               During summer Ian maintained 10
                                                                               feeders which were serviced twice a
                                                                               week with 30–40 litres of sugar water.
                                                                               Feeders were regularly cleaned to
                                                                               prevent the sugar solution fermenting
                                                                               and to reduce the occurrence and
                                                                               spread of disease (several of the
      Ian Price prepares sugar                                                 feeders are serviced throughout
                water for hihi.                                                the winter by island rangers, Dave
          Photo: Stacy Moore.
                                                                               Wrightson and Erica Cammack).
                                  Hihi are cavity nesters and breeding success is strongly affected by the
                                  availability and quality of cavities. On Kapiti, hihi prefer natural nest sites
                                  although some nesting attempts are made in nest boxes most years. The
                                  female builds the nest and incubates the 3–5 eggs. Both parents feed the
                                  chicks for 28 to 35 days until they fledge.
         For more information     Monitoring the population involves pre- and post-breeding surveys and
      about the Department of     observations, usually at feeders. An important tool for monitoring work is
    Conservation and its work,    banding individuals with a unique colour combination. The hihi population
             visit our website:   on Kapiti continues to increase. This year 80 juveniles fledged and the
            www.doc.govt.nz       population on Kapiti is currently estimated at 190 birds.



8                                 Motu moments 3 July 2006

				
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