A Busy Autumn
by Liz Westbrooke & John Ogden

Meetings, conferences, forums and lectures raises the Trust’s profile

The objective of a State of Environment report is to bring together all relevant information on the state of the human, physical and biological environments of an area. The Trust had a number of aims in producing such a document for Great Barrier Island. It wanted to provide a current snapshot of this information, create a working document that could be expanded in the future, find out where data is inadequate or does not exist, provide a resource for the many projects on the island, show that the environment supports a way of life and is an environment worth protecting, and finally to explain the view that a rat and feral cat eradication using an acceptable method, is the only way to stop the further decline of key species.

Since the completion of its State of Environment report in February this year, the Trust has been asked to present its findings briefly at a number of Auckland meetings.

At the Hauraki Gulf Forum. From left: Mike Lee (Chair ARC), Kate Wilkinson (Minister of Conservation, John Ogden, John Tregidga (Chair Hauraki Gulf Forum and Mayor of Hauraki District Council) and Graeme Campbell (former Conservator, now Waitakere District Councillor).

In early February (8-12th) John Ogden and Judy Gilbert attended a large international conference on the Eradication of Invasive Species. Our presentation was entitled “Running the gauntlet – eradicating rodents on an inhabited island” and it was very well received. The conference was held at the Tamaki Campus of Auckland University, and was attended by over 240 delegates from all over the world. Twenty three different countries were represented. Many different aspects of pest eradication were covered – it was amazing to discover just how much of this sort of work is occurring worldwide. Islands are seen as key locations for the survival of threatened species worldwide. The Trust’s presentation was in a group concerned with eradications on inhabited islands. The discussions held, and the contacts made, will be very helpful as we move towards an eradication feasibility study on Great Barrier. Our paper from this conference has been peer reviewed and is to be published later this year. It outlines the Trust’s methodology and progress in ‘conservation education’ and some of the set-backs!

On Feb 27 the Hauraki Gulf Forum launched the Trust’s State of Environment report at its 10th Anniversary celebration on Motutapu Island. The Forum is responsible for administering the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. John Ogden, chair of the Trust, spoke to a large audience along with Sean Goddard, the Auckland Conservator, John Tregidga, and Mike Lee (the Chair and Deputy Chairs respectively for the Hauraki Gulf Forum), and Kate Wilkinson, Minister of Conservation. Paul Downie, Peter and Lynette Hoey (from Ngati Rehua) and three of our Trustees attended this event.

Regional Conservator Sean Goddard closed the speeches by recounting the words made by his predecessor Stella Frances at the opening of the marine park ten years ago:

“The Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act is not just a replacement for the old Hauraki Gulf Maritime Act which was repealed in 1990. In its scope it is visionary. It takes a 21st Century approach to protection and resource management. It doesn’t impose a further bureaucratic regime, it works to strengthen and enable and connect what is already there from rangatiratanga and kaitiaki to local government, the RMA, ministers, fisheries, and reserves. It reflects the complexity of the gulf’s dynamic environment, and the complexity of its communities, and it provides opportunities to act. In summary it is an enabling piece of legislation which is forward-looking and principled. But it is only as good as the ability, wit, and willingness of people to use it. I hope that you will use it, add to it, and celebrate within it. But use it as a tool to construct and protect a better gulf for our mokopuna’.

Then in mid March John Ogden and Sue Daly presented a full copy (c. 200 pages) of the S.O.E. report to the Community Board at their meeting on March 15. On the same day, Liz Westbrooke and Judy Gilbert took a short powerpoint presentation to a full meeting of the Hauraki Gulf Forum and received their endorsement for proceeding with a Technical Feasibility study.

On Friday of that same week, Liz Westbrooke took the same short presentation to the Auckland Conservation Board who acknowledged the valuable work and personal time that had been put into the State of Environment report and endorsed the Trust’s recommendation for a technical feasibility study of rat and feral cat eradication on for an inhabited Great Barrier Island. (Currently unconfirmed minutes of the meeting.)

On March 30, John was one of the invited speakers at a special day focusing on the Hauraki Gulf, held at the Auckland Memorial Museum. He gave a 20 minute powerpoint presentation covering the significance of Great Barrier Island in terms of biodiversity in the Hauraki Gulf, and the role and activities of the Trust. The large audience (c. 250) were all familiar with the Hauraki Gulf and many had administrative roles involving the Gulf. John’s authoritative Great Barrier Island summary was very well received. This meeting, along with the Motutapu SOE launch achieved a high profile for the Trust, and led more or less directly to an agreement between the Trust and the Hauraki Gulf Forum to further explore the feasibility of complete pest eradication on Great Barrier.

And then we got into April – with DOC cutbacks and proposals to mine Te Ahumata!!........