At the newly established Karori Wildlife Sanctuary in Wellington the
building of an almost vertical section of fence proved what could be
achieved over very difficult terrain. Then came the completion of the
47km fence around the mountain at Maungatautari, which included some
very steep sections up the side of the mountain. This seemed to indicate
the 2km Glenfern Sanctuary fence would be a breeze.
In February the decision was made to proceed with building a pest-proof
fence across the Kotuku Peninsula in 2008 if sufficient funds could be
raised. Jo Ritchie was employed to prepare a feasibility study, an
ecological assessment, help with consultation and prepare resource
consent applications. Her experience in facilitating the Tawharanui pest
fence made her well qualified for the job.
Orama had already given approval to build the fence across their land.
Letters of support were obtained from all adjacent landownersí including
the Department of Conservation and an application was made to Ngati
Rehua, the Great Barrier hapu, for support.
In March 2007 fund-raising started in earnest. With seed funding by the
Bouzaid Family Trust of $215,000, applications were lodged with the ASB
Community Trust, the Biodiversity Condition Fund and Lotteries. With
help from Joel Bouzaid and Scott Sambar from OPC (Outdoor Pursuits
Centre) a PowerPoint presentation was compiled to promote the project
and hopefully find sponsors. Several dinner presentations were given
with the whole of the North Barrier community invited, which generated
good attendance. The PowerPoint was also presented to the Orama Trust
Board, the Motu Kaikoura Trust and the Sanctuaries of NZ Conference in
Ngati Rehua examined the route of the fence and gave unequivocal
approval that endorsed the project as a major contribution to endangered
wildlife. and enabled an agreement to be negotiated with the Department
of Conservation for the use of a stretch of 100m of reserve land.
Members of the contracted team Xcluder Pest Proof Fencing Ltd made
several trips to Great Barrier Island to ascertain the feasibility and
confirm the route of the fence. From this investigation it was realised
that 68 pine trees on the Orama side had to be removed in advance. The
fence requires 4m clearance outside (for jumping cats); and 2m inside,
to remove the danger of trees or branches falling and damaging it.
In October approval was received from the ASB Community Trust for
$58,800 and the Biodiversity Condition Fund for $120,000 over 2 years.
By the end of the year private donations totalled a further $11,000.The
Glenfern Sanctuary guided walks and sales of T shirts and accessories
contributed a further $8,000.
In late 2007 an added impetus to the building of the fence was the loss
of two female robins to rats and another to a cat. This left an already
depleted robin population with 4 males and 1 female. Surveyed damage to
seedlings and undergrowth by pigs (and the resultant susceptibility to
erosion) reinforced Tonyís intent.
With the majority of the money in hand or promised, and with approval
and commendation forthcoming from Ngati Rehu and DOC it was decided to
Resource Consents were applied for in January 2008 but due to a backlog
at Auckland City the consents were postponed to March 31st. With a
deadline of April 30th for completion of the earthworks work had to
begin by March 31st. A Heads of Agreement with Orama was negotiated.
Con Flinn was engaged to remove the pine trees, some of which were
nearing the end of their life-span and were up to 1.8m in diameter. Over
the course of four weeks he felled over 60 pine trees on to what would
become the fence platform, so the branches could be trimmed ready for
With ARC consents already in hand, land use consent conditions agreed
and assurances from Auckland City, the barge charter for shipment of
machinery and materials was booked for the 29th March. This was the last
opportunity to land at Karaka Bay on a reasonable tide in the middle of
the day or face a delay another two weeks.
The barge sailed on the 28th evening to Port Abercrombie awaiting the
tide on the 29th. Over a span of four hours the Orama truck, the FitzRoy
House Unimog, two diggers and the barge forklift unloaded all the
equipment and materials. A start was then made on the access to the top
of the hill from the main Orama complex. The following day (with the
access largely completed) the assembly area was cleared of pine logs and
debris to enable the materials to be shifted up the hill.
Monday was a pre-construction meeting with representatives of the
consent authorities, the environmental consultant, the contractors and
the land owners who then walked the line of the fence to Port FitzRoy.
Work began immediately after with forming the fence plat-form down to
Arthurís Bay and up the Telecom line.
The earthworks contractors were well on their way up the Telecom line by
the time the fencing team arrived the same day, who immediately started
drilling strainer holes and ramming posts. Once the strainers were
secured the tensioning wires were attached and tensioned ready for
installing the capping channel and battens.
During the week all the materials required for the Port FitzRoy end of
the fence were trucked round to Glenfern. The pad for the vehicle gate
on the top of the Orama hill was prepared and cut-outs and sumps for
runoff and sediment control were dug. The fence platform was continued
with installation of culverts below the volcanic outcrop known as Three
Kings (where OPC take their students for abseiling) as well as over on
the Orama side.
The following week the platform was formed down the FitzRoy hill to just
above the stream, and the fence erection began in earnest with battens
and capping channel installed up the hill from Arthurís Bay (Orama). On
the FitzRoy side wet ground allowed only work to the platform through to
the FitzRoy House front gate. Erection of the fence continued up the
Telecom hill but rain again stopped work until the 1st May.
The prospect of fine weather saw a team of seven arrive from Xcluder on
the 6th. Solid progress was made with the team working from dawn to dark
installing mesh and capping on the Orama section.
On the 9th and 10th it rained again with some heavy downpours but the
team managed to get the posts bored and rammed at the bottom of the
FitzRoy hill and sediment control fences installed above the stream
culvert and below the cut-off bunds.
weather returned again on the 11th , drying the ground and with 7 men
working, steady progress was made. The first few days saw the remaining
post-holes bored below Three Kings and the finishing of the remaining
sections above and below the Orama stock gate. By mid-week the ground
was dry enough to work up the Telecom line to the top of the FitzRoy
hill. Because of the steep south-facing slope and the high trees
adjacent it was not dry enough to work down the FitzRoy side till the
end of the week.
Even then the steepness of the slope combined with a greasy clay surface
made for interesting maneuvers. The and the post-ramming tractor
were connected by wire hawser across the top of the hill. So
counterweighted, the tractor was lowered down the hill. The Unimog had
to be driven down the other side to pull the tractor up again. After a
while it became necessary to use the combined weight and traction of the
Orama tractor and the Unimog to get the ramming tractor back up the last
steep section. Skillful teamwork allowed the posts to be positioned
successfully on the steepest section without incident.
the last fence section to the shoreline at Arthurís Bay was completed
and the concrete pad for the pedestrian gate laid. With rain forecast
for the 19th or 20th the team worked right through the weekend to get
the remaining posts down the FitzRoy hill bored and rammed.
It rained briefly Sunday night just enough to make it too slippery to
use the ramming tractor or the Unimog. Rain began in earnest Monday
morning but didnít last long so the tractor was able to ram the last few
posts at the top of the Telecom line. This section was then meshed up
during the week. With the Telecom line too slippery to extract the
Unimog or the tractor, work began on finishing the fence along the flat
to the front gate at FitzRoy.
The last culvert was installed beside the FitzRoy gate and geotextile
laid over the mud from the drive most of the way to the next culvert.
Metal was laid over the top by the FitzRoy farm tractor to make the
track to the stream culvert accessible. The team continued to work until
washed out by rain on Friday afternoon.