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.
Best wishes for 2016 and may it be a satisfying year for everyone.
The challenges for DU remain very much the same with wetlands under increasing threats from climate change and drainage. Amendments are proposed by the Government this year to the Resource Management Act (RMA) and we need to be vigilant to ensure the current protection measures for wetlands under the RMA are not eroded away.
The Directors have decided that the 2016 AGM will be held in Taupo and are currently checking suitable venues. Venue and dates will be confirmed shortly. Looking forward to seeing you all again then.