To the uninitiated, the name Ducks Unlimited (DUNZ) conjures up images of guns, and birds falling from the sky. However, DUNZ is anything but one that focuses on duck shooting. It is, in fact, New Zealand’s leading wetlands and waterfowl conservation group. DU works to save our wetlands through protection, funding, technical aid and education so that the flora and fauna of our most endangered ecosystem are a legacy we can pass down to future generations.
Attendees from as far north as Auckland gathered at Brackenridge near Martinborough, Wairarapa, for DU’s annual conference and AGM. The conference included a trip to the Wairio Wetland on the eastern shores of Lake Wairarapa to catch-up on restoration progress. Delegates saw the results of recent earthworks to create a 1.2 kilometre bund wall
which has increased the open water area at the wetland providing ideal waterfowl habitat.
During our visit about 100 black swans lifted off, creating quite a spectacle. The results of the annual planting exercises which average 3000 odd sedges, flaxes and swamp trees were obvious. Steve Playle from the Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC), also a DU member, provided details of the predator trapping programme he had in place at Wairio and adjoining wetlands of Matthews Lagoon and Boggy Pond. Since July 2013 Steve has caught 50 ferrets and a number of other undesirables! (Read details P10).
Local wetland environmentalist Jane Donald received the Bill Barrett Trophy for her contributions to wetland restoration, at a dinner superbly catered by Providore. During the evening a fun auction raised $6500 for wetland restoration work and bright balloons added a festive touch to the event.
Sunday morning Mike Camm from the Northland Pateke Recovery Group gave an up-beat talk on the progress of their group in trying to remove Pateke from the endangered species list. Peter Russell from DU Manawatu Chapter provided an update on the Whio (Blue Duck) recovery programme.
DU has been a member of both recovery groups since their inception.
Those interested can check out DU’s activities on www.ducks.org.nz or better still visit Wairio Wetland on Parera Road, just south of Kahutara southern Wairarapa.