School children and staff have looked after Okiwi Reserve for many
years. Their work has included pest control, native plantings,
making weta homes and more. The children have pride and a sense of
kaitiaki for the park and its surrounds.
People in Okiwi take pride
in the bird life of our valley. Flocks of up to 12 kākāriki have
been counted, kākā
are plentiful and raucous, banded rails are everywhere, pāteke
are secretive but they’re here and we go to sleep to the calls of
morepork and kaka.
The Great Barrier Local
Board are supporting the Okiwi Community Pest Project, which aims to
protect and enhance biodiversity values in Okiwi, support existing
initiatives, and raise awareness and understanding of biodiversity
values, threats, and their management.
Surveying community opinions
An initial survey found
that many landowners and residents control pests on their properties
targeting rats and mice with some also controlling rabbits, minor
birds or/and cats. Rats were the biggest concern for people followed
by rabbits. Several methods were used to control rats, including
kill trapping, live capture, and poison baits. Absentee landowners
who undertake control tended to favour poisons (often inside a
The project is focussed on
non toxic means of control as pest control in a small area like
Okiwi, surrounded by unmanaged rat habitat, will require ongoing and
regular control of rats. Persistent use of toxins is not best
practice and not all community members support the use of toxins.
Residents are still able to use toxins on their own properties and
are encouraged to contribute their results to the project. The
option to consider a toxin to knock down rat numbers in targeted
areas, periodically, if required, is acceptable to most.
Trapping rats and cats
Two hundred kill rat traps
in wooden boxes have been placed throughout about 50 ha in Okiwi.
Ten multi kill traps have been supplied by the Department of
Conservation and will be trialled in areas with more difficult
access. The department manages cat traps on public land around Okiwi
and the project is augmenting this effort with a few strategically
placed traps as well as a cage trap available to individuals to
respond to sightings.
The project area has been
divided into sections, with individuals, or groups taking
responsibility for specific areas. Some people are undertaking work
on their own properties and others look after traps on adjoining
properties or public land as well.
The school has a big role to play and two Department
of Conservation staff are volunteering their time to service traps
on public reserve land.
Results are recorded in the
TrapNZ database (see
map on back page)
where they can be viewed on maps, in graphs or tables, by anyone
signed up to the project. Some residents are entering their data,
others are supplying data to the coordinator for entry. Trap results
have shown an initial high number of rat captures (in most areas
where poison isn’t also being used), dropping and being replaced
with high mouse occurrence. Mice create problems by consuming the
peanut butter in traps but often not springing them.
Rat monitoring with
tracking cards provides the opportunity to identify other fauna in
the area, e.g., skinks. Training workshops on bird identification
and monitoring have been held in with the first bird monitoring
scheduled for early July. The monitoring aims to align as much as
possible with work undertaken 10 years ago by John Ogden and the
Working with the community
Several community meetings
have been held to update residents on methods, provide supplies,
share experiences and answer questions. Further workshops and
community activities/gatherings are planned for the coming year.
The support by Auckland Council, Local Board, DOC,
Okiwi School, and members of our community is much appreciated, and
makes the project possible.