A volunteer from Bay Bush Action secures poison pellets in a bag that is hung on a tree in the Ōpua Forest.
Eco group has pests in crosshairs
A hardy group of volunteers manages pest control in the Ōpua State Forest near Paihia. They trap the big four — rats, possums, stoats and feral cats.
Action tripled its protected area to 2000ha in 2021-22 to help kiwi and other native birds recover.
In 2021, it performed a field trial by setting more than 500 AT220 traps, which rebait and reset themselves. The traps turn off during the day, lessening the chance of by-kill.
The group calls on locals to carry out the work using the Government’s Jobs for Nature funding. It has conducted an extensive eradication programme that has removed more than 16,000 possums from the forest after the deployment of Feratox in the Ngāhere Recovery Area.
Feratox is the trade name for an encapsulated form of cyanide that has been used for possum control in New Zealand since the 1960s. The group also focused on rats through the distribution of pindone, another poison that was developed for the control of rodents in the 1940s.
Along with the eradication programme, there is the joy of discovery. One of the volunteers came across a squeaking longhorn beetle (Hexatricha pulverulenta).
It is endemic to Aotearoa and found nowhere else in the world and, true to their common name, the beetles make a squeaking noise to indicate irritation when handled.
They encountered ancient Northern rātā that have weathered possums consuming the bark. Their red pōhutukawa-like flowers feed high-energy nectar to the birds, insects and geckos. Unfortunately, the rātā nectar is, to a possum, like icecream — but with possum control, the rātā trees are beginning to flourish once again.
The group discovered a couple of “teenage” mataī trees making a comeback. Their bark goes red in the rain. Until about the mid-1950s, most mataī were cut down along with large swathes of kauri.
The trail cameras used by Bay Bush Action found a dead kiwi killed by a dog. The camera captured a photo of a female kiwi sniffing the ground where her dead mate was found and there were photos of the dog. The dog’s owner was located and informed (and was horrified) and the volunteers say they are confident it won’t happen again.
Kerikeri Rotary Club celebrates 50 years
In May, the Kerikeri Rotary Club celebrated 50 years in the district. Members past and present attended a dinner that commemorated the achievement that was held at the Kerikeri Cruising Club
The original meeting venue back in 1973 was in the Kerikeri RSA clubrooms in Hone Heke Rd, and there were 24 charter members who signed up that year as foundation members,
Nowadays the Kerikeri Rotary Club meets at the Homestead Hotel in Kerikeri and the membership stands at 32.
In the past 50 years, the club has provided two district governors and has hosted three district conferences. It took a little time, however, to sign up the first woman charter member. That was in 1989.
For a number of years, the Rotary club ran a charity day in the Bay and initiated a multisport event from Hokianga to Kerikeri. It was called the Northern Crossing.
But, as with a number of events in the Bay of Islands and elsewhere, it lapsed through what’s known as “challenges of administration”.
In recent times the club’s members have been involved with building bridges on the Vision Kerikeri Wairoa river track.
They have built two bridges so far, all with volunteer labour, and later this year they plan to build a third bridge as Vision Kerikeri is extending the track into Kerikeri township.
Dance Academy looking for premises
The Northern Dance Academy is in desperate need of studio space it can call its own.
Its present home is in a barn on SH10 and it’s too small for the required examination specification. It also shares the space with a seller of slippers.
Academy head Liz Russell says they are seriously deprived.
“The small space negatively impacts on the overall space, alignment and projection for examination marks and impedes choreography for competition and performances.
“This disadvantages our Northland dancers and we have to hire alternative larger spaces for examination and competition practice which is financially crippling.”
She has been looking for suitable premises for about two years. The rent on the last studio they occupied doubled under the new landlords, who decided to up the rent a year later, and she couldn’t financially accommodate a third rent hike. Neither was she compensated, she said, for lining the studio, insulating it and having the electrics rewired.
The academy has 80 students regularly attending classes in Kerikeri and that gets boosted to 120 with Mangonui classes factored in. The ages of the pupils range from three years to very much older. Liz at one time had a 91-year-old attending class.
She has been approached by a couple of wealthy benefactors who wanted to back her and construct a purpose-built studio. One also canvassed incorporating a studio into the Turner Centre but he was met with bureaucratic red tape and a degree of vested-interest objection, so he gave up.
Another potential patron expressed interest but that was fleeting and his attention has since atrophied to what Liz calls “sparse communication”.
“We are on the hunt for bigger, affordable premises,” she says.
“It needs to be at least 12m by 14m, an open space with a high ceiling and a wooden floor, although we can build that if required and preferred is a changing room, bathroom and parking spaces.” firstname.lastname@example.org
Northland Women’s Club growing
In July last year, a group of businesswomen got together to form the Northland Women’s Club. There were just 12 members to begin with. It has now grown to 60 members and counting.
A large component of the club’s raison d’etre is about networking and forming relationships with other businesswomen while raising funds for various charities.
Founder is Vanessa Bennett. She and her husband moved from Auckland to Kerikeri during the height of the pandemic and own The Range NZ, a luxury clay target shooting range and restaurant in Rangihoua Road, Te Tii.
The couple also own Panic PR NZ, Eye magazine and Chinese Eye magazine. Bennett said the reason for starting the club was for businesswomen to come together as a united front as opposed to “working in silos”.
According to a recent report by Deloitte, New Zealand remains one of the lowest-ranked countries worldwide for women in senior leadership roles. The report stated that if New Zealand firms achieved gender parity in leadership, the economy would be about $881 million larger.
Although Vanessa Bennett was not born in the Far North, her ancestors landed here with Samuel Marsden.
“It has special meaning for me to live in the north, it is the best-kept secret and the most incredible place,” she said.
Northland businesswoman Dorothy Jones has been with the club since its inception. She says the group has the potential to play a role in boosting solidarity and profit across the region.
“Often, women are enveloped within their business and don’t find mutual support. Companionship and sharing experiences build our resilience, which is a quality sorely needed in Northland,” she said.
The first major charity event for NWC is a charity ball on Saturday, August 26, at the Bay of Islands Golf Club in support of Breast Cancer Foundation NZ (Northland branch). multimediamagazines.co.nz/collections/event