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.
It gives me great pleasure in presenting my annual report for 2015-16.
While a relatively small organisation we certainly punch above our weight in terms of achieving positive outcomes with wetlands and the biodiversity they support.
DU and our wetland conservation arm, Wetland Care NZ, has supported the construction of a number of wetlands in the Wairarapa and Hawke’s Bay and are in discussions with a wetland care group near Warkworth to assist them with their project.
Wairio wetland alongside Wairarapa Moana continues to be a major focus for DU because of its large size and the broad community support for this project. With DU’s Wairarapa Chapter’s excellent stewardship of the project a number of other agencies continue to provide financial support. Without this additional support we would have been unable to achieve what has occurred. Jim Law will provide a more detailed report on this project. A big thank you to our supporters and sponsors Clean Up Wairarapa Moana Fund ( Greater Wellington Regional Council), NZ Game Bird Habitat Trust, Department of Conservation, South Wairarapa Rotary Club, Nikau Trust Pharazyn Trust and DU Chapters.
DU’s support of Emma William’s bittern research project on developing monitoring techniques has resulted in Emma recently been award her Doctorate. This is an excellent outcome which will make a major contribution to bittern conservation nationally. A significant part of her research was based on Lake Whatuma in Central Hawke’s Bay where a Wetland Care Group has been formed. The Group includes landowners, waterfowl hunters, conservationists and Iwi who are now involved in a comprehensive predator control and willow control programme, bird and fish surveys supported financially by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, Department of Conservation, Forest & Bird, and Birds NZ. The bittern project supported by DU was an important catalyst for other groups to become involved.
Two of our senior members Ian Pirani (DU NZ foundation President 1974) and Jim Campbell (current co Patron) have over the last 12 months received awards for outstanding service to conservation. Ian received the Queen Service medal which was acknowledged at our 2015 AGM, but more recently Jim received the Queen Service medal. Thank you gentlemen and well done!
New Zealand clean green image is still under threat and there is a need for both urban and rural communities to work together to achieve improvements in the water quality in our streams and lakes. Central Government is reviewing how we can best achieve this and a number of our members have made submissions on what is being proposed. Protecting the margins of waterways and recreating more wetlands to filter sediment, nutrients and pathogens is an important option that needs further encouragement and resourcing. Wetlands are the equivalent of the human kidneys. DU’s work with wetlands is not just about creating waterfowl habitat but also assist achieve much broader environmental gains.
I wish to acknowledge the contribution of the Board of Directors, Secretary, Flight Editor and Web Site Manager in making our organisation tick along with on-going Chapter and member support. Our sponsor’s important support is also gratefully acknowledged.
We do punch above our weight and we only achieve this by working together. However we need more members and young ones at that, and this is a big challenge for us all.
Well we have survived another predicted El Nino summer and in Hawke’s Bay, where I reside, most wetlands managed to avoid drying out because we did receive some welcome rain in the latter part of summer. This was of significant benefit to a wide diversity of bird and fish species dependant on these wetlands. Wetlands need water to function and this has always been a cornerstone of DU’s work.
Our organisation is very dependent on the “back office” staff (Secretary Jan Able, Flight Editor Liz Brook, Web Site Manager Michelle Cooper). It is with some sadness that I farewell Jan Abel who has been our very valuable contribution over recent years. Thank you Jan. At the same time I warmly welcome Mary Mason from Martinborough who has agreed to take up the position and we look forward to working with you.
There are a number of reforms proposed by the current Government for the Resource Management Act (RMA). These will impact on rivers, lakes and wetlands in both a positive and, in my opinion, a negative way. DU has not become involved in these issues in the past but as individuals it as simple as checking on line and making a submission. These issues are big picture ones and certainly justify comment. Our AGM is in Taupo this year July 29-31, and our team have an interesting programme organised. I look forward to meeting you all again there.
I am sitting here at the computer looking out the window towards Lake Whatuma watching the rain continue to fall. We have had 30mm over the last 12 hours with more to come!! A real blessing as we in Hawke’s Bay, like many other regions, have experienced one of the driest autumns over the last 100 years. Climate change means we will be faced with increasingly less rainfall and warmer air temperatures. Wetlands need water to function and as one of our prime goals is to enhance and create wetlands our task is not getting any easier. We need to continue with this important work and encourage others to do likewise.
The annual DU conference at Taupo was a real success and it is always great to catch up with like minded people. For many of us it is the only time that we do meet and some of these friendships go back decades.
Spring is here again and the wetlands are bursting into life with fresh plant growth and increasing breeding activity among the birds.
This was well illustrated recently when I visited James and Jane Hunter’s property at Porangahau, Central Hawke’s Bay. They are DU members and recently received a grant from DU Wetland Care Trust to assist with the construction of a complex of five dams along a swampy gully. Passionate wetland conservationists; they typify what DU is about.
This on-going interest from private landowners and support from DU is vital for wetlands and waterfowl. Read more about their achievements elsewhere in this issue.
Nancy Payne passed away recently at 93 years, 31 years of which she had been a Ducks Unlimited NZ member. With the support of her son David and his wife Sheryl, Nancy attended many annual DU conferences the last one being at Martinborough in August 2017. In the past she was known to travel by train from Auckland to Ohakune to attend DU conferences.
Nancy’s interest in wetlands and waterfowl developed as a child when she lived alongside the Waitoa River. She pursued an active life-long interest in natural history and conservation. As well as being a member of DU she had also been active in Forest & Bird, Tongaririo Natural History Society,Auckland Entomology Society and Tiritiri Matangi Supporters Club.
Nancy was in the DUNZ group which attended the DU Canada Convention in Edmonton in 1993. Nancy, somewhat wistfully, considered herself an urbanite because she didn’t have the opportunity to have a wetland of her own. But she was always proud of her involvement with the DU sponsored brown teal programme on Tiritiri Matangi which enabled her to always think of them “as my little ducks”.
It gives me great pleasure in presenting my annual report for 2016-17. While it may seem that we have had a quiet year DUNZ and its wetland conservation arm, Wetland Care NZ, has continued to support a number of very worthwhile projects.
Work at Wairio wetland on the edge of Wairarapa Moana continues with useful on-going research on a variety of wetland matters by Victoria University and their students. Further planting of wetland species has been completed and some additional work carried out on the bunds retaining the water within the wetland. The numbers and diversity of wetland bird species using the area is outstanding. Water levels go up and down over the year, depending on rainfall and inflow from the main lake, and this creates an excellent variety of habitat types. In mid-late summer when extensive shallow mud flats are exposed the wetland supports several hundred pied stilts, while in winter stilts are largely absent but replaced by several hundred waterfowl (black swan, shoveler duck, grey teal and mallard) along with numerous dabchick. During a recent visit by Ross Cottle, DU NZ Chairman and a sponsor they saw three bittern which is a real plus.