by Emma Waterhouse
(Mount Hobson), Whangapoua beach and estuary from Waikaro Point.
The ecosystems that stretch from the summit to the sea represent
many unique assemblages of fauna and flora, influenced by
topography, altitude, climate and human activities (see pages
Change is in the air. And recently,
some of these changes have been things that at one time we thought
might never happen. Think Brexit, Trump, record atmospheric CO2
levels, and, closer to home, cell phone coverage at Okiwi and
Glenfern Sanctuary finally in public ownership.
While some of those changes may seem
somewhat remote from our corner of the world, the
last one isnít. It is significant and itís also just the beginning.
Securing the future of Glenfern provides an opportunity to build
further on the legacy of Tony Bouzaid and his team. A catalyst for
the advancement of conservation and environmental education,
research and technology on the island. And a significant community
assetó a world-class attraction for island visitors and a source of
reach far beyond the boundaries of Glenfern. Lou Sanson, the
Director General of the Department of Conservation, recently visited
Glenfern. In the recent D-G Update (DOC Conservation Blog,
21 July 2016), Mr Sanson stated that ĎThe ultimate vision is
to work closely with iwi and DOC on achieving a predator free
Northern Great Barrier Island/Te Paparahií. Or as Scott Sambell,
manager of Glenfern, recently put it to me, thatís about Ďtaking
down the fenceí.
Now thatís probably
not something Tony Bouzaid would have believed when the Glenfern
fence went up!
So its an exciting
time to be back. Iíve lived away from New Zealand for 10 years. Now,
Iím looking forward to lowering my carbon footprint and to putting
my energy into this country, and this island. Sometimes you have to
do without something to realise just how important or special it is.
Great Barrier certainly falls into that category for me.
During those 10
years away, on every trip back I would, again, be amazed at how
close this island is to our largest city, but how little most people
know about it.
Home of Ngati Rehua
Ngati Wai ki Aotea and our fourth largest island, Great Barrier is
an ecological microcosm of New Zealand. It is endowed with stunning
scenery with both regenerating and comparatively intact ecosystems.
The largest tract of possum-free forest in New Zealand, it is a
biodiversity hot spot in the Auckland region that goes largely
As the cityís
population grows towards two million by 2030, Auckland is fortunate
to have this wild and beautiful island, with its rare and threatened
biodiversity, right on its doorstep.
In recognition of the
islandís value, we now have the Aotea Conservation Park. The
Conservation Management Strategy seeks removal of rats within 10 years.
The consultation process to create the park highlighted support for
future protection if it enables a thriving community and a sustainable
A year on, the parkís
Conservation Advisory Group is yet to meet, DOCís permanent staffing
and resources on the island continue to shrink (although there is now a
large new headquarters at Okiwi).
Unless action is taken
to protect and enhance this asset of national significance, a decline
towards the degraded state of many mainland New Zealand ecosystems is
Thatís why the recent
purchase of Glenfern is so exciting, why Lou Sansonís support for on a
pest-free Te Paparapi are so encouraging. We on the brink of a
step-change in the future of Aotea.
However, if we wait for
DOC alone, we may wait a while. Ngati Rehua Ngati Wai ki Aoteaís Hapu
Management Plan identifies the environmental, economic, social and
cultural policies and objectives for Aotea. One of the main goals of the
Great Barrier Island Local Board is the sustainability of the community
and the environment. We also await the outcomes of the community
visioning work with great interest.
Clearly, effort is
needed on multiple fronts, funded through multiple sources. But it has
to be well-coordinated, with alignment of all stakeholders behind a
roadmap, to be determined by them.
ecological and cultural sites Ďoutside the fenceí such as Hirakimata and
Te Paparahi will be significant steps forward for Aotea, paired with
ongoing private efforts.
What excites me though
are the opportunities such efforts could bring about on multiple fronts
ó for further expansion of environmental educational programs, research
and technology development, and the sustainable economic and community
benefits that this activity will bring.
Rakitu from Tataweka,
the highest point in Te Paparapi. The promised rat eradication for
Rakitu is yet to eventuate, despite funding being earmarked for the
project over two years ago. Photo: K. Waterhouse
Issue 36 Winter 2016