Keynote speaker was Belinda Vernon, a 15 year veteran and foundation trustee of the Motutapu Restoration Trust who ROCON share a significant relationship on Motutapu where we have been involved since 1990. Belinda gave a précis of the efforts the Trust has made in fulfilling it’s vision of restoring the natural and cultural landscapes of Motutapu since it was originally established. Key accomplishments of the Trust include:
  • Eradication of possums and wallabies from Rangitoto and Motutapu by the  Department of Conservation which was declared predator free in 2011
  • Fenced off forest remnants on the coastal fringe and inland
  • Built a nursery to raise native plants on the island which opened in 1992 by the Duke of Edinburgh
  • Organised volunteers to plant over 500,000 native trees and plants on hillsides and wetlands
  • Achieved 95 hectares of planted native forest in 18 years and witnessed native plants having grown over seven metres tall
  • Rescued large areas of native forest from invasive weeds including moth plant, woolly nightshade and apple of Sodom with an intensive volunteer weed programme
  • Organised two pre-eradication bird surveys by Ornithological Society of New Zealand who recorded 27 native bird species including kereru, NZ dotterel, tui, grey warbler, variable oyster catcher (all indigenous)
  • Taken part in two pre-pest eradication reptile surveys
  • Fenced off 15 hectares of Central Gully to exclude stock
  • Funded contractors to make the initial assault on moth plant infestation in Central Gully
  • Celebrated in 2010 the eradication of seven remaining pests - ship rats, Norway rats, mice, rabbits, hedgehogs, feral cats, and stoats by the Department of Conservation
  • Delighted in the island being declared pest free in August 2011
  • Witnessed the natural return of the bellbird and kakariki to Motutapu - first sightings in over 100 years
  • Welcomed the first of many translocated endangered/severely threatened native species (takahe, tieke) in 2011, a programme that will extend out at least 10 years.
  • 2012 saw the release of the Coromandel brown kiwi, more takahe, more tieke, whiteheads, shore plover into the volunteer planted native forest of Home Bay
Members of ROCON should be proud of their significant contributions to many of these success stories.
Cyclone Debbie: Belinda also spent some time describing the massive destruction the island suffered as a result of the aftermath of the cyclone - roads blocked by slips which restricted access across the island and to the wharf, slip damage to the Centennial Walkway and Loop track and on and on. DOC has closed the island for the immediate future while contractors are engaged to assess the damage and undertake urgent earthworks. As an aside, MOEC has also suffered significant damage to their buildings and infrastructure and will be closed until September. On the positive side the replanting of native forest must have to some extent mitigated the extent of this damage.