Ducks Unlimited
Sunday, 15 September 2019 06:16

From the President

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


Published in Issue 156
Sunday, 21 July 2019 22:06

From the President

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.

John Cheyne

Published in Issue 159
Thursday, 04 April 2019 09:44

Presidents Report AGM 2014

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.

John Cheyne

Published in Issue 160
Thursday, 04 April 2019 09:30

From the President

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.

John Cheyne

Published in Issue 160
Sunday, 31 March 2019 08:16

From the President

Greetings everyone

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.


Published in Issue 176
Sunday, 20 January 2019 05:23

From the President

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.

John Cheyne

Published in Issue 161
Thursday, 22 November 2018 09:15

From the President

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. 



Published in Issue 175
Tuesday, 06 March 2018 09:22

From The President

Best wishes to members and supporters for 2018.
While DU has achieved many great things over the last three decades there are always challenges that need to be addressed. Organisations like DU are dependent on members so declining membership is a concern and one which is a priority for Directors over the year ahead. Some new initiatives in this area are being considered.
Spring and summer is a great time around wetlands with plants, insects, frogs and birds becoming a lot more active and obvious. I was at Wairarapa Moana recently and the DU Wairio wetland project was a real standout with over 2,000 waterfowl present. Ducklings, cygnets, shoveler courtship flights, booming bittern and even a single white swan were observed. The 100 hectare sheltered shallow Wairio wetland complements the larger open areas of adjacent water provided by Wairarapa Moana, Boggy Pond and Matthews Lagoon and is a project that DU NZ can be really proud of. Wairio is maturing as a wetland and water bird use is increasing accordingly. This is flagship project is one that DU NZ can justifiably be very proud of.
The role of wetlands in helping to address climate change issues is becoming more widely acknowledged. Hopefully the statutory agencies (Central and Regional Government) will start to recognise this by developing more robust policies and providing additional funding to help protect what wetlands remain and also recreate some which have been destroyed.
This year’s AGM will be held in the Waikato and more detail will be provided in the next issue of Flight.
2018 will be a challenging year and we look forward to your ongoing support.
John Cheyne
Published in Issue 174
Tuesday, 27 February 2018 06:46

From the President

I recently returned from a day looking at some coastal rivers and wetlands in Hawke’s Bay with Regional Council staff. On this occasion the focus was not birds but whitebait, and in particular inanga. Inanga are one of five species of native fish that make up the national whitebait catch. In my region inanga make up about 90 percent of the catch.
So what is the connection with DUNZ? 

Inanga spawn amongst the bank side vegetation of the lower reaches of rivers like the Tukituki, Ngaruroro and Tutaekuri at the top of the spring tides, normally during April to June. During the next sequence of high tides the eggs, about the size of a pin head, hatch and wash out to sea and then return to the rivers six months later as the whitebait most of us love eating. Those that avoid capture spend the next year in the river and adjacent wetlands before returning to these very small and critical spawning sites. Like waterfowl habitat, these sites are under threat from many directions and without protection the inanga could locally become extinct.

Habitat protection is the key whether you are a duck or native fish. Our wetland work normally benefits much more than birds.

Keep up the good work. See you at the AGM in Palmerston North 1-2 August.

John Cheyne
Published in Issue 164
Sunday, 25 February 2018 07:23

From the President

Firstly a big thank you to the organisers of a most successful AGM in Palmerston North. It is always great to catch up with friends again from the wetland and waterfowl fraternity and without your ongoing support Ducks Unlimited would not survive.
The bus trip to Michael Burke’s property to view his magnificent man made wetland complex was appreciated by all. Emma Williams Sunday morning talk on her bittern (matuku) study at Lake Whatuma, Central Hawke’s Bay and her excellent rendition of a male bittern booming was appreciated by those present. Ducks Unlimited and Wetland Care NZ are major sponsors of the bittern project and once again show that we are leaders in threatened bird species conservation in New Zealand having previously initiated action with pateke and whio.
It has been a relatively dry winter in most regions which delayed the onset of breeding for many species of waterfowl, but heavy rain in late September-early October spurred things along. The shallow ephemeral wetlands topped up at this time of the year are so important for waterfowl and other species like eels. Only one morning recently, with assistance from two young grandsons, I emptied 181 small live eels from two fyke nets set overnight in water 0.3 metres deep on the edge of Lake Whatuma which highlights just how productive ecologically these shallow wetlands are.
Just as well we have organisations like DU championing the importance of these areas.
John Cheyne
Published in Issue 165
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