PRESIDENT’S REPORT – I.H. PIRANI
Presented at the second annual conference of Ducks Unlimited (NZ) Incorporated at the White Heron Lodge, Kilbirnie, Wellington on Saturday, 24 April 1976
This year has been one of rapid growth and progress for Ducks Unlimited. Waterfowl conditions in most parts of New Zealand improved considerably and most regions experienced an excellent breeding season. Prospects for 1976/77 appear most encouraging for the ducks – however, these favourable circumstances must not lull us into a false sense of security or complacency. Our work is just as urgent – the need is still as great.
Your group’s financial situation has continued to improve and the financial statement to 31 March 1976 is enclosed for your perusal. Membership has almost doubled and continues to grow at a steady pace. We have welcomed our fifth life member, our third trade member and our fifth acclimatisation society member. We also have a growing membership from persons overseas – in Australia, Canada and the United States. In 1976/77 we aim to double membership.
‘Operation Gretel’ is now well under way and results are encouraging. ‘Operation Pateke’ has attracted much attention and we are delighted with our progress – 1976/77 promises to be a great year for the Brown Teal.
As a fundraising project, our T-shirt promotion produced excellent results and the gift card subscription scheme similarly was most successful and resulted in many new members.
At the end of the financial year, we announced our plans for project number 3 – ‘Operation HQ’. The objectives of project 3 are the establishment of a national headquarters comprising a research centre and display area, the latter designed to be a fundraising activity. Already several members have promised their entire waterfowl collections to the centre. We look forward with much enthusiasm to our third project which must, of necessity, be staged over several years.
In 1975/76 Ducks Unlimited has not been entirely inward looking and has interested itself in other related conservation projects. One such project is the Westshore plan in Napier and our director, Henry Lickers, participated in meetings concerning this matter.
We have enjoyed visits from a director of Ducks Unlimited (Canada), Mr Gerry Malaher, and from the National President of Ducks Unlimited Inc USA, Mr Gaylord Donnelley – such visits lead to a closer understanding and liaison between the international groups. In the same ways, the visit of director, Dudley Bell, to the northern hemisphere was another valuable opportunity – he has now returned with many exciting possibilities for us in New Zealand.
One of the unique attractions of membership in Ducks Unlimited is the opportunity for all to positively participate in field work – in fundraising – and in contributing ideas, knowledge, expertise etc – financial memberships means so much more than just writing a cheque for $10.
In the short time since we began, with a few hundred dollars to support the dream, significant progress has been made. However, we are still very much in the establishment period. Hard work and enthusiastic support have helped to make the dream materialise and DU is contributing in a positive way to the preservation of New Zealand’s waterfowl heritage – but there is a long road to travel.
The Whanganui AGM has come and gone and very successful it was, with the bus trip to Bushy Park being a highlight.
My thanks go to William Abel and Adrienne Bushell for organising it for us.
The Wairio Wetland is progressing well with the diversion of water from Matthews Lagoon having been completed late summer although there is still some fine tuning required for it to reach its full potential. With the extra water now coming in it has opened the possibility of developing another seven or eight hectares on the northern end for waterfowl habitat.
A planting day was held there in July in the Victoria University block with some infill planting in areas where nursery plants such as manuka have been planted previously to carry on the research for best practice for wetland restoration. We are planning to build a bird viewing hide on a peninsula in Stage 4 of the wetland in the coming summer.
The board has decided to invest some funding into university research grants for subjects relating to wetlands and a subcommittee has been set up.
Hope the winter/spring is treating you well.
I said in my last Insight that I believed that there had been a better breeding season and that there were more birds around then has been seen in recent years.
As I write this with the hunting season well underway this appears to be the case, at least in the lower North Island. Why this has happened, when we have had the biggest drought in the last decade, I cannot guess but at least hopefully it will help turn the Mallard numbers around.
The Wairio Wetland Project has been very busy in the last two months with the establishment of a bund at the northern end using funding coming from the Game Bird Habitat Trust. Tree Planting days were held on Tuesday June 25 and again on Saturday June 29, as always helping hands are made most welcome.
Remember about the AGM in Napier; send your registrations in ASAP. Ross Cottle
The late spring - summer across most of New Zealand has been significantly wetter than last year and this is good for wetlands and waterfowl with greater survival of young birds.
Although most of the large permanent lakes (Waihola, Ellesmere, Wairarapa, Hatuma and Whangape) still exist, many of them suffer from water quality problems which reduce their productivity in terms of plants, birds and fish. The ephemeral wetlands around their margins are also under pressure. The excellent work of DU and other organisations is going some way to address the habitat issues but there is much more to do. Much of the DU effort is supported by donations and subsidies which we are extremely grateful for.
There are also good results being achieved from many of the whio and pateke projects around the country which DU has supported. With these endangered species there often is sufficient habitat but introduced mammalian predators play a major role in limiting numbers and even causing local extinctions. Where ongoing predator control is carried out 300 percent increase in whio numbers is regularly being recorded.
Our AGM is being held near Martinborough in the Wairarapa on August 1-3 and an interesting programme and field trip is being organised. Please mark your diaries. (See information page 2)
Look forward to seeing you all then.
Wildlife is a great joy to all of us whether they are wetland, forest or common species.
Sitting writing this I am looking out my office window at the coming and goings of numerous wax eyes and the occasional tui feeding on the sugar water put out for them. I still get a thrill seeing these common species even though I have had the pleasure of working with some of our most endangered species like kakapo and kiwi. Wetlands, waterfowl and marsh birds are no different and this is what drives DU.
The last year has been a good one with our Flight magazine editor Liz Brook, Secretary Jan Abel, and Web Site and Quack Club Coordinator Michelle Cooper all making great contributions in promoting DU and ensuring we operate well on behalf of our members.
Their input is pivotal to what we achieve. To the other Directors thank you for your efforts.
Discussions are continuing with Tony Roxburgh Chairman of the National Wetland Trust as to how we can work together.
They have progressed designs for their national wetland centre to be located at Lake Serpentine near Te Awamutu.
Wairio Wetland near Lake Wairarapa continues to be our flagship project with the benefits of the Stage 4 project resulting in 35 hectares of shallow wetland (maximum depth 1.2 metres) being created by the construction of a 1.2 km bund. Waterfowl use is high and includes regular sightings of the endangered bittern. This work was funded by Greater Wellington Regional Council, NZ Game Bird Habitat Trust and DU. Planning for a similar sized project for Stage 2 and 3 is well advanced and should be constructed next summer. Tree planting and maintenance are also major tasks funded from a range of other sponsors. The AGM field trip takes in Wairio so you will be able to see and hear firsthand what has been happening.
We have been long term supporters of a number of very successful waterfowl projects (Pateke, Whio, White swan). A new focus has been on the endangered bittern (less than 1000 birds in NZ and 750 Australia) and the DU Board are currently considering a proposal to support a study by a doctorate student from Massey University. Bittern will be a great additional flagship species for DU’s wetland objectives.
DU’s slowly declining membership is still a concern and our members are aging. This will be a focus for the Board this year.
During the summer we lost one of our great stalwarts in the passing of Dave Johnson who was a life member. Dave has been a magnificent supporter and mentor for many of us. His contribution will be sorely missed.
I look forward to seeing as many as you as possible at the AGM at Martinborough. The organisers have a great programme planned.
A range of DU projects are progressing well with the prospects for some new ones. Read more in my President’s Report for the AGM on Page 5.
Preparations for our 2014 AGM being held near Martinborough 2-3 August are well advanced with an interesting programme in terms of field trip and speakers. The venue at Brackenridge Country Retreat is great and I m sure you will enjoy yourself. It is still not too late to register. I look forward to catching up with everyone.
Unfortunately Dave Johnson a DUNZ Life Member passed away recently and a number of our members attended a celebration of his life beside the magnificent pond on his property at Reporoa. Dave was a great supporter of DU and Wetland care NZ and his wisdom will be missed.
Hope Christmas and New Year treated you well; it has been an excellent year for waterfowl breeding, with most ponds holding water with lots of feed for young birds.
The DU year has started with some small repair work being done to the wall at Wairio and the walkway from the road to Stage 1 being given a coating of gravel.
Consent has been received to divert the water from Matthews Lagoon into the northern end of Wairio and that work should be completed this autumn.
William Abel and Adrienne Bushell have finished the arrangements for the 2019 AGM to be held in Wanganui in early August, so put a note on your calendars and I hope to see you all there.
Another excellent AGM and Conference was held at Martinborough. Great venue, organisation and attendance. A big thank you toeveryone for making it a success.
The field trip showcased Wairio wetland which enabled members to see where we have directed significant effort over recent years supported by numerous sponsors.
At the Sunday morning session we received excellent updates on the Pateke programme by Mike Camm and the Whio programme from Peter Russell.
DU are supporting bittern research by approving funding of $2500 for Emma Williams, Massey University student doing doctorate studies at Lake Whatuma, Hawke’s Bay, to purchase radio tracking transmitters. Emma will be providing regular updates to be published in Flight so I look forward to these.
The 2018 AGM in Hamilton is over for the year and a great success it was, with about 50 people attending the Saturday night dinner and auction. Just under $5000 was raised thanks to the persistence of auctioneer Dan Steele.
I am delighted to welcome two new members onto the Board with Adrienne Longuet-Bushell and Liz Brook allowing their names to be put forward. Liz has retired from her role as editor for Flight magazine but still felt she wanted to contribute to the organisation, so thank you to both of them.
Our new editor is Alison Murray and she is keen to hear from any members with material for the magazine – her email address is below.
As we have not been receiving the same level of inquiry as previously for funds for the construction of wetlands, the Board is looking into providing ongoing scholarship funding for university students working in the environment and wetland fields, so watch this space.