Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Getting serious about predator control in Hamilton

There are two, with potentially three, programmes being developed to control rats and possums (stoats do not appear to be a problem in the city) in Hamilton gullies. In New Zealand there is very little experience in city pest control to the level that we are now aiming for; to clear all resident (breeding) rats from a designated control area, then to effectively manage the reinvasion. Possums are less of a problem to eradicate due to their slower breeding pattern and lower population.
It would be expected that over the next few years an effective programme will be developed that is safe, reliably effective and financially sustainable. This programme could then be rolled out through the extensive city gully system to protect our native fauna and to dovetail into the planting restoration that is going on in many areas.
Hamilton City Council and Waikato Regional Council are already carrying out control programs on some areas of public land. What is really important is to get the support from those households that back onto the gullies where these initiatives are operating. It may be as little as arranging for a person to have access through your property or could be to have a trap or bait station installed in the gully behind your house and you to service and feed that information into a computer. Whatever programme we end up using we are going to rely on community support to make it effective and financially viable across the city.

The two programmes presently under way (in addition to Council programs) are:

Predator Free Hamilton Trust; running a trial in the Onukutara gully from Crosby Road to Wairere Drive/Hukanui Road intersection. They have conducted research to identify the range of the two main species of rat and possums to guide trap setting locations and will be using A24 Good Nature traps for rats and Timms traps for possums. For more information on this programme contact Kemble Pudney, ph 8525290 or email

Mangaiti Gully Restoration Trust; are rolling out a bait station system they have been using in their restoration area for the last five years to the gully system inside Gordonton Road, Wairere Drive, Thomas Road and Hukanui Road. For more information on this programme contact Rod Ade 852-5256 or Rex Bushell 854-0973 / 021-237-3857

The third one that has applied for funding through Predator Free NZ and Kiwi Bank is Riverlea Environment Society who operate around the Hammond Park – Riverlea area. The community support can start right here by clicking on this link Riverlea Predator Control Funding and giving them your vote to support their funding application. Voting closes on the 25th November. Remember- your vote does count! Or contact Adrienne Grant

Rototuna Primary School active in Gully

Our neighbouring school in our gully is Rototuna Primary. They are doing their thing in restoring their part of the gully with the support of Enviroschools and Trees for Survival as well as using it as a school resource. Click on this link to see what they are up to. Another one of Rototuna Primary Schools projects was to make a number of Bat (Pekapeka) roosting boxes one of which was presented to our Trust to install in our gully.

Annual Tree sale

We took the opportunity to raise some funds again this year at the annual Tree Croppers Assoc. tree sale held at the Hamilton Gardens car park. Our site in the photo looks a bit sparse but we raised $352. Kowhai plants being so popular we had to get a delivery in to boost our stocks.

Restored an old seat

This seat located on the Upper West Track, was originally built by the son of the owners of the land above at the end of Sexton Road when he was young.
Unfortunately we did not get a photo of the old rotten seat before it was demolished. It seemed a shame to let it rot away so when we were offered a slab to go on the top we thought it was a good opportunity to restore it.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

New page created

Double click to enlarge
There has been a new page created called Tips on restoring Hamilton gullies. Check it out on the left side of this page. It is designed to be helpful to schools that are involved in gully restoration projects and to encourage Hamilton people who own their own gully section to develop them in an environmentally friendly way.

Giant Willow Aphids causing mayhem

Poisoned willows after four years
The honey dew excreted by the Giant Willow Aphid is causing a black soot like substance to form on all the under story plants. This is causing concern as it would be expected to effect the ability of the under story plants to thrive due to substantially reducing their ability to photosynthesize.
We have decided to bring forward our plan to poison off all the willows. The under story seems well enough established to compete with any annual weeds that may grow when the ground is exposed to sun light.
Once dead the willows take about four to five years before they start to fall down so during this time they will still give a certain amount of protection to the under story.

Soot like substance on the under story plants compared to a normal
fern leaf

Pest control

Hamilton City Council contractors, Biosecurity, are doing the second bait control for rats. They started on 13th April and will have their bait stations out until the 16th July.
Tracking card showing rat prints
We serviced our bait stations last on the 20th February. By the 19th March all but three stations (out of twelve) had the baits cleared out by rats. That would be the most activity we would have had since we started our rat control programme in January 2012. Knowing Biosecurity were installing their bait stations we cleared the bait out the remaining three on the 19th March.
We have thirteen tracking tunnels to monitor rat activity through our gully and down to the south end of Sovereign Isles. Inked cards were put out on the 13th April just prior to the Biosecurity drop and three had rat prints all up the Sexton Road end. We will monitor again after the 16th July.
We believe the reinfestation of both rats and possums is very high.  The only way to arrest this is probably to extend the control area so that it creates a buffer zone to our restoration area.

Rototuna Primary School enviroschools activities

On Wednesday 24th of March, Room 24 at Rototuna Primary School went to help the Mangaiti Restoration Trust plant part of the gully floor. This was an important day for our school as the children made the connection between what is happening in the Mangaiti section of the gully and our school section.  They could see how the plants that we were raising and planting in the gully, had specific areas they needed to be planted in.  This also helped to build our awareness of ‘whanaungatanga – relationships.  The children saw how working as a team could make great change for the people, flora and fauna of the area. They thoroughly enjoyed working and learning from an exciting team of volunteers.  Rototuna Primary gifted a range of native saplings to the Trust as a koha for their gully. These saplings had been grown from seed by the school children and had been donated to them from Trees for Survival and Enviroschools.  This was a gesture that was significant as the children learn to give back to those who have helped them.  In 2015, the Trust donated saplings for us to plant in our ‘Annual Gully Plant Out,’ we were very grateful for this gesture and we hope that this partnership continues to grow in the future. As a result of this day, Rototuna Primary School have been invited to build Bat Houses.  These will be donated to other gully restoration teams, as we continue to build positive working relationships with our community. We look forward to seeing our Bat Houses in the gullies around the area.

Here are the important voices – the words of the children about the experience.

It inspired me to look at insects more instead of freaking out about them.
We brought nature to life.”
We all work together as team on planting the flax, harakeke.”
All of us are digging a hole, then putting in the flax, then planting the flax to grow by saying, “Kia Kaha – be strong.”

Trees for gullies scheme Canned

Unfortunately Hamilton City Council has canned their very successful eco sourced trees for gullies programme that ran for many years and will only consider supplying plants to people who are restoring a gully that is on council administered land. This goes hand in hand with the council canning of the sustainability strategy that had been developed by the previous council.
Those living in the Kirikiriroa gully catchment can register on with Mangaiti Gully Restoration Trust and we may be able to supply some trees in future seasons.

Check out mister frog

Mister Frog was found in our shade house when we were doing a major sort out. Note how black he is to blend in with the weed mat and black pots. He looks very fat. He (who said he was a male?) must be eating all the slugs and invertebrates.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

A disappointing year for possum control

We finished the year with 18 possums caught in 2015 within our 2 hectare restoration block. To compare that with history we caught 22 the first year in 2012, followed by 10 in 2013, then 9 in 2014, then a jump up to 18. Last year also included a HCC contractor trapping through the whole Mangaiti gully system for a fortnight with Timms traps in July. Since Christmas we have caught another five.  The re-infestation is unacceptably high.

The third fresh water fish survey

Waikato Regional Council fresh water scientist completed a third fish survey of 50 metres of the Mangaiti stream within our restoration area. They are pleased with the consistent results. The highlight of this survey was the recording of a good sized Giant Kokopu and a good sized Long Finned Eel. The Long Finned Eel is the larger of the two eel species found in New Zealand.  The Short Finned Eel is the one that is commonly seen and is smaller. The Long Finned Eel is the one that leaves the New Zealand fresh water system when it is ready to breed and migrates up to the Pacific waters to spawn. The glass eels as they are known, presumably because of their transparent look, somehow find their way back to New Zealand and enter fresh water river and stream systems. These are getting endangered and should not be fished.

Last major clearing job

But this is a biggie with a mass of mainly Honey Suckle over the ground. It has dragged down any growing thing and covered over any old dead trees. It will be an interesting site to plant. It is not bog but it does not dry out in the heat of summer. Frost will be a problem in winter so the plants will have to be frost tolerant. We are working out a planting plan at the moment. This depends on what we have available, or access to, that suits the growing conditions. The main canopy tree will be Kahikatea with a few Pokaka. We are looking to plant a number of Hoheria sexstylosa which will suit the conditions and form a short-lived canopy which will enable us to plant an under-storey of less frost-tolerant natives at a later date. There is another advantage of planting Hoheria sexstylosa and that is it is favoured by the Puriri or Ghost Moth which, at present, uses the willows and privet in their grub stage. The gaps will be filled in with species like Manuka, Astelia and a variety of Coprosmas. The stream edge will no doubt be planted with Carex secta. The target planting date will be the autumn of 2017.

Preparing for autumn planting

There is an area below the main track as it rises up to the Sexton Road entrance where we have been clearing and spraying off the Glyceria maxima for an eighteen month period. If you refer to the photo, the area in the foreground was planted last winter and has recently be mulched. Across the stream will be planted this autumn in predominantly flaxes Phormium tenax. Kahikatea will be planted as a future canopy tree and Carex secta along the stream edge. A few miscellaneous species will be planted along the foot of the slope.

A road named after us!

While driving around the King Country I spotted this road off Highway 4. It looks as though it has suffered from a few shot gun pellets.