Today, Sandy and Robin Toy, tell us about their work with Friends of Flora in Kahurangi National Park…
Friends of Flora was founded by Maryann Ewers and Bill Rooke, who noticed that the birdlife in the Flora Stream catchment area, in Kahurangi National Park, was steadily declining. They went to their local DOC office and asked what they could do.
They started with a limited stoat trapping programme, which has expanded over the years and now covers some 8,000 ha.
This involves fortnightly monitoring of radio transmittered kiwi over 10,000 ha; training volunteers in radio telemetry and kiwi call count surveys; maintaining a database of kiwi locations, activity patterns, health and breeding; monitoring kiwi breeding attempts using infra-red cameras; catching transmittered kiwi annually for a health check and transmitter change; managing translocations of additional kiwi to the project area to ensure there are sufficient founders for a long term viable population; undertaking periodic kiwi surveys and other kiwi related research; and kiwi advocacy.
Before Friends of Flora we volunteered with the Rimutaka Forest Park Trust, near Wellington, for several years.
They had an amazing project to re-establish North Island brown kiwi to the Rimutaka Forest, where they undertake predator control.
We helped the Trust with their kiwi translocation and monitoring and became experienced kiwi handlers.
When we moved to Motueka the first thing we did was contact Friends of Flora to see if we could help out.
One of the loveliest moments we’ve had with Friends of Flora so far was on Christmas Day 2012. We were running through video footage from a nest cam and suddenly saw the first kiwi chick born in the project area for more than 30 years, bumbling around outside its nest.
As well as re-establishing a sustainable population of great spotted kiwi/roroa, Friends of Flora are also involved with predator control (primarily stoats); re-establishing a whio population and undertaking annual whio surveys; monitoring rodent numbers with footprint tracking tunnels; and developing a community engagement programme.
The work of Friends of Flora has seen the Flora catchment become renowned for its abundant birdlife. Visitors to Mt Arthur Hut can hear the spine-tingling call of the great spotted kiwi and a stroll down the main track is often rewarded with whio sightings. That a dedicated community group in rural New Zealand can achieve so much is inspiring.
If you’re keen to get involved with Friends of Flora visit the Friends of Flora website. Donations and offers of help are always welcome! We particularly need very fit volunteers to help with the trapping and kiwi monitoring programme.
October is Save Kiwi Month. Get involved. Kiwi need you!