by Acting Chair Liz Westbrook

Spring has arrived, the daffodils are out in my garden and it is that time again for new beginnings. It has been a busy few months here, with CMS submissions, Local Board Three Year plan submissions and hearings, and the organising of a hui with Ngati Rehua up at the Motairehe Marae.

The Trustees this year have focussed on the big picture: where we have been, where we are and where we are going to. We revised our Strategic Plan and sent it out to all members for feedback, engaged four new Trustees, and thought carefully about the next ten years.

The Local Board originally had in its draft plan ‘a consultation with the community on pest management and pest eradication’. This disappeared from the final one year plan and did not reappear in the draft three year one. Our submission asked for this to be re-instated. We asked our members and supporters to strengthen this request with submissions of their own supporting this or a number of other projects, including a Kokako Feasibility study. Twenty five of the total 76 submissions supported the theme “undertake community consultation/surveys on environment and pest management”. Twenty-one mentioned ‘improve pest management on private land with sixteen wanting to ‘undertake a kokako recovery study’. These included a number from our members and supporters. Thank you for your action.

There is considerable benefit to be gained from an independent appraisal of community views: individual’s ideas, opinions, experience and advice. The end result can give the Board an up-to-date understanding of how people value the ecology of the island and a clear direction to all as to the hopes and expectations for its management. This is vital: the environment forms the most likely base for future economic growth. And of course there is Biodiversity: this island remains an important place, a place that still manages to sustain small but significant populations of species gone from or endangered on the mainland.

Finally: Words and their meanings. Gosh how limited we are sometimes in our ability to use these to communicate meaningfully. There has been some discussion about the word Vision: Online Thesaurus: English (UK) gives Dream, Foresight (and Eyesight). I guess you can pick which of those you believe in. I believe that our CMS submission to DOC is quite visionary in its scope, a dream, a visualisation, a mental picture, an idea.

And then there is Community: landowners, ratepayers, residents, and Ngati Rehua of course, but there are also regular visitors, enthusiastic supporters, interested parties such as researchers, business owners, tax payers, boaties and fishermen, local and central government, all with a real interest and each an important sector. This time Thesaurus gives us as synonyms for Community: Neighbourhood, Society, and Kinship. And beneath Kinship is unity, identity, cooperation, cooperative spirit, convergence, similarity (and Antonym: isolation).

The Trust is hopeful that the Bring Back Kokako Initiative makes a positive contribution to the island, brings people together, and becomes a symbol for and a major step forward in the ecological restoration of Great Barrier, even if we have to invent a new language to do it.