21 years, 25,000 predators and 200,000 native trees later



Recently, 80 guests gathered at Awhitu School to celebrate 21 years of environmental work by Awhitu Peninsula Landcare volunteers.

The afternoon began with welcome nibbles and drinks, and George Flavell, Ngati Te Ata kaumatua and long time Awhitu Landcare supporter, began proceedings with a beautiful karakia.
A presentation by Landcare followed, documenting the huge body of work the group has carried out since its inception in 1994, including scientific research, erosion control, beach care, a community recycling centre, field trips, workshops, local employment opportunities, newsletters and Environmental Award programmes.
Awhitu Peninsula volunteers have carried out planting and weed control in no less than 12 public sites on the Peninsula. In addition, they have propagated and grown most of the trees for these sites, at no cost to the public. Establishing a community plant nursery at Matakawau in 2012 was a particular milestone, giving the group a permanent base from which to carry out their environmental work.
Predator control is possibly the activity most Awhitu landowners know the group by. With the help of a huge drive by Landcare volunteers and the community in 2004, the Peninsula was officially designated a Pest Control area, which meant that Peninsula landowners received assistance from Auckland Council help to control pests.
Before the programme was instigated, pests were controlled by shooting, with a typical night’s tally being 137 possums. While the numbers have decreased, the battle to control pests continues.
Over the past 21 years, it is estimated that Awhitu Landcare has dealt to 25,000 predators and planted 200,000 native trees.
Kevin Hackwell of Forest and Bird gave the audience a stimulating presentation on the possibility of a Predator Free NZ. Kevin emphasised that predators are the number one threat to our native
biodiversity quite simply. “If it has four legs and hair, it does not belong in our New Zealand native forests.”
A ceremonial cake cutting by award-winning environmentalists, Jack Harper and David Craig, a visit to the community plant nursery, and a scrumptious afternoon tea provided a fitting end to the day’s celebrations. Upon closing the birthday celebrations, Adam Scattergood, Landcare Nursery Manager and MC for the day, paid tribute to the many volunteers who have contributed to Awhitu Landcare over the past 21 years. “Each and every one has played a part in helping Awhitu become the unique environment it is today.”

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