The Conservation Management Strategy (CMS)
Review Meeting

by John Ogden

The Department of Conservation staff from Port FitzRoy put on a splendid display of their work at the pavilion at Claris Club on Saturday August 2nd. The meeting was advertised as a ‘drop in’ meeting to learn about the Conservation Management Strategy. What a pity it wasn’t advertised as an opportunity to meet nearly all the D.o.C staff on the island, to talk to them, see displays of their work and slide shows about conservation on GBI. A pity too that, due to re-arrangement of the District Plan hearings, the CMS meeting followed immediately after them. I guess many people were just too ‘submissioned out’ to turn out on a wet and windy Saturday afternoon. There were only a handful of people attending – in fact they were outnumbered by D.o.C staff. Despite this situation, which must have been very disappointing for those who had put so much effort into the day, some useful exchanges of ideas took place.
The meeting was introduced by Matt Cook the acting Area Manager at Port FitzRoy. The Department is undertaking a review of its conservation management strategies in many conservancies throughout New Zealand. This is a new process, which will produce a written strategy document – to be completed in 2010. Thereafter this will set policy for the next 10 years. In this respect it is just as important a document as the District Plan, especially considering the large proportion of public conservation land on GBI that it will relate to. Matt handed over to Rebecca Rush, who is based in Auckland and is managing the CMS review process. Rebecca briefly explained that the meeting was planned to gather feedback in the pre-statutory phase, and it was an opportunity to put in ideas and to say: “what you think the Department should be doing on Great Barrier”. The Document will contain: (1) general overall CMS objectives and policies; (2) policies relating to specific locations (”places”) which need more specific objectives and policies than those provided in the overall section, and (3) policies relating to more detailed issues within some of those places. Great Barrier Island has been recognised as a specific “place” within the Auckland Conservancy, so it will have specific policies/guidelines relating to it. The Department would like to hear from people about any particular areas of land (or marine places) which are particularly important to individuals. They’d like to know what you think the Department should do to conserve those areas over the next 10 years, and especially if you have any special detailed knowledge about the place and are prepared to help. For example, the GBIC Trust has recognised the following ‘D.o.C managed’ areas as “special’ on Great Barrier: Rakitu Island, Hirikimata summit area, Te Paparahi, Whangapoua estuary and spit, and Kaitoke swamp. We will also probably make a submission about Kaitoke beach because of its importance for New Zealand dotterels and other waders.
The Trust had a written ‘pre-statutory’ submission, covering the above places and also making three other points: (1) That the Department needs to raise its profile on the island, eg. with a Visitor Centre at Claris; (2) That over the next 10 years the Department should significantly increase its pest control programmes (especially for rats) on GBI, and (3) That our earlier submissions on the possible introduction of kiwi to Great Barrier should be re-addressed.
There were excellent displays and slide shows covering Halema Jamieson’s work on conserving reptiles and birds, Jo Sim’s work on brown teal and black petrel, and George Wilson’s work on weed control. The recreation/historic team’s work on tracks, the Wairarapa graves, kauri dams and other island features were also featured.  Maps of the island and the Gulf put all this into a wider perspective. The tea and biscuits were of excellent standard and served to lubricate discussion. In complimenting the Department for the afternoon’s presentation, Richard Sommerville-Ryan indicated that he would bring it to the attention of the Community Board and suggested another similar meeting might be arranged in future with Board support.
If the Department feels a bit disappointed by the (lack of) turnout, I would say, have another go – it takes time to get the message out on GBI!