The number of whio in the Tongariro catchment is growing, thanks to a recovery plan run by the Department
of Conservation from 2009 to 2019 and groups of volunteers who monitor hundreds of traps in the region.
Two Taupō Fishing Club members and dedicated trappers Chris Pritt – the sister of DU Patron Di Pritt – and Lesley Hosking are been doing their bit on the upper reaches of the Hinemaiaia River. Lesley says, "We have trapped mostly rats and other predators on the upper Hinemaiaia River for more than two years, starting in August 2018 with only eight trap stations. We now check 42 traps every week – these are 36 box traps with DOC 200 trap mechanisms and 8 Goodnature A12 or A24 gas operated traps.
"We took over this part of the river to assist and free up David Cade (aka Didymo Dave) who started the trapping with the aim of getting the native birdlife to flourish again. He now traps further upstream on a regular basis while we patrol the well-worn fishing tracks and three car parks."
Didymo Dave has been trapping on the Hinemaiaia for 10 years and in 2019 caught his 1000th rat. "To date we have trapped 328 predators which include hundreds of rats and mice, four weasels, two stoats, and one possum, which was in the DOC 200 trap," Lesley says.
Pic's Peanut Butter is their bait of choice and they use about 5kg every six weeks. The peanut butter is waste from the Pic's factory which sells it at a reduced price on the Predator Free website. It is not edible as it has a greenish additive.
"By trapping so rigorously, we now have the reward of seeing North Island robin, tomtits, kereru, fantails, tui, bellbirds, whiteheads, and two whio have moved in near Car Park 3; we hope they will mate and there will be more whio. The pair seem overly friendly and we think perhaps they have originated from the Tūrangi whio raising enclosure," Lesley says.
Lesley and Chris are unsure if the whio nested this season but say they have taken up residence on the far side of the river where there are no fishing tracks.
The Taupō Fishing Club originally became involved in vermin trapping because its members were sick of rats chewing newly caught trout laid out on the riverbank while they continued fishing.
The two women fish two or three days a week on Flaxy Lakes, the Tongariro River and river delta, Waimarino River mouth, and in summer, they boat fish on Lake Taupō.
In January, their volunteer work was nationally recognised by the New Zealand Sports Fishing Council which awarded Lesley and Chris its 2020 Volunteers of the Year award.
As well as their trapping work, the pair worked together to save the Taupō Fishing Club when it was facing physical, financial and administrative collapse.
Club president Shirley Fraser says, “Our clubrooms were in desperate need of maintenance after having been neglected for years. Extensive rat damage had resulted in major water damage."
The building was collapsing and needed repainting, the roof needed repairing and guttering, wiring, and plumbing needed replacing.
“Not only did they do much of the prep work, painting, cleaning and so on, they organised quotes, oversaw the tradesmen and brought the project in under budget. Now the rooms are a pleasure to call ours.”
Lesley and Chris also took on the job of implementing a new administration system and overhauling the club finances and reporting systems.
• Game bird hunting licence, regulations booklet.
• Carry firearms licence at all times.
• Confirm access with landowners.
• Get permit to hunt on Fish & Game and DOC land. • Fix the maimai: leaks, rotten boards seating etc.
• Clean decoys.
• Vaccinations and worming for the dog.
• Check regulations for the region you are hunting in. • Hunt ethically and responsibly.
• Don’t drink and hunt. Alcohol impairs judgement.
• Be a tidy kiwi – take your rubbish when you leave.
• Shotgun in tip-top condition. Check sighting. • Treat every firearm as loaded.
• Store firearms and ammunition safely.
• Always point firearms in a safe direction.
• Load only when ready to fire.
• Always, always - identify your target.
• Check the firing zone.
City slicker finds her roots - Or is that her webbed feet.
Rosie is my daughter’s dog, a three–year-old spaniel, and totally a city pet. I was babysitting her while my daughter was shifting house. This was Rosie’s first time in the wilds and she was totally into things. It was the last shoot of the “Home of the Duck” consortium at Broadlands, just down the road from the late David Johnston, and once owned by Ian Pirani. The property has been sold after 25 years.
Smart dog ‘maimai’!!!
The smartest dog Maimai any side of the Black Stump.
“Tried to get my Architectural group to list this in my portfolio of work. I thought it was rather catching as we all talk about the roof over our heads, they had other ideas - my request was declined.
“Still the dogs like that spot.and they scrap from time to time.
De-Jay keeps an intent eye over the wetland. He is the youngest of Ian Jensen’s three Labs.
Ed’s note: Tried to check on the correct spelling of maimai. It seems maimai is the NZ term and then mai-mai is an Australian aborigine hut. And certainly not to be confused with the term Mai-Mai that refers to any kind of community-based militia group active in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to defend their local territory against other armed groups.
Any other ideas on this spelling, caps or not caps, or pronunciation would be welcome.
Top of the list should be the hunting licence, and probably the regulations booklet. Check out the Fish and Game website for the most up-to-date information. May 2 seems to be the opening day this year. Remember you must have your licence with you whenever and wherever you go hunting. Don’t try to use the licence from last year. They are not upgradable, exchangeable or refundable. If you lose your licence report it to Fish and Game and they will sort it out. F&G have an online licence system, or you can call their free phone licence number 0800 542 362, business hours only, $5 booking fee. Or you can visit any Fish and Game office or regional licence agent.
Hunting kit reminders:
Basic safety rules:
With Duck Shooting seasons not far away it is well to remember about obligations of farm/land owners and of the recreational visitors on the property.
Owners do have obligations under Health and Safety legislation.
The first thing to take into account is that this is not a paperwork nightmare. There is not lengthy form-filling required nor a need to sign people on and off the farm. It is really a matter of thinking about where the hunters will go, identifying hazards and risks the hunters wouldn’t reasonably expect in those areas, and warning them about those risks and how to avoid them.
The recommendation is to have a conversation with the hunter or hunter in charge of the party to pass on that information. Make a note in your farm diary about what you told them. Most people usually ring up the night (or during the week) before to make sure it’s all ok, so that’s a good time to have the discussion.
Think about the sort of things to warn them about. Remember the things they wouldn’t reasonably expect (so if they are townies you might have to make allowance for that) in the areas they will be in. Some examples: Dangers from things like tree-felling, spraying or other work – if there is tree felling in another area, are the trucks using the same tracks? Areas of instability such as paddocks with unexpected tomos or subject to landslips. Aggressive stock that are near where they will be hunting. You might also let them know about communications (e.g. no cell coverage) so they can make alternate arrangements if they need to.
It’s also a good to get an idea of their timings, and tell them they should let you know if these change. You also need to make sure that all the people who are in the area (staff, contractors, other visitors / hunters) are aware of each other.
If a visitor trips over a tree-root or stone, a property owner or occupier is unlikely to be held responsible for the other person’s carelessness. In addition, if the property owner or occupier could not reasonably have been expected to know of a hazard, they cannot be held responsible for any harm that occurs to a customer or client.
Remember the General Rule - as the person in charge of the workplace you are legally required to point out specific hazards, which you know could harm the person and which the person wouldn’t normally expect to encounter.
Happy hunting season.
Keen for a bit of sport during duck hunting, Australian David McNabb checked in at Di Pritt’s (our co-patron’s) property to see what sport was on offer.
Di’s two dogs Rommi and Luke were keen for some action but on the whole it seemed they were mostly just keeping an eye on proceedings at Swan Lake on Graeme Berry’s land.