D-G Direct: An update from Lou Sanson

Department of Conservation —  15/10/2015

By Lou Sanson, DOC Director-General

Success for DOC and Air New Zealand at the Tourism Awards

On 2 October I joined members of our Marketing team at the Tourism Industry Awards, where our partnership with Air New Zealand on the Great Walks won the Industry Alignment award.

Lou with Lisa Barrett, General Manager of Tourism, Sectors, Regions and Cities at MBIE and Meghan Blair, Air New Zealand Sponsorship and Communities Manager.

Lou with Lisa Barrett, General Manager of Tourism, Sectors, Regions and Cities at MBIE and Meghan Blair, Air New Zealand Sponsorship and Communities Manager

This is a huge credit to all our staff who put so much into the Air New Zealand partnership. It also reinforces why Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon recently announced his decision to extend the DOC/Air New Zealand partnership until 2020.

Our Air NZ partnership is now worth around $10 million to conservation but, more importantly, it puts DOC in front of around 13 million Air New Zealand passengers each year, giving us the opportunity to share Our Nature and the DOC story. It is essentially about supercharging both organisations’ success and achieving some great conservation outcomes as well.

Ngāti Porou Treaty Partnership

On 6 October I met with the new Ngati Porou CEO Herewini Muturangi Te Koha to discuss a number of our Treaty Partner projects in Tai Rawhiti.

Lou with Ngati Porou CEO Herewini Muturangi Te Koha, Tui Warmenhoven, Director Conservation Portfolio; Lou, De-Arne Sutherland, Conservation Partnerships Manager based in Gisborne.

Lou with Ngati Porou CEO Herewini Muturangi Te Koha, Tui Warmenhoven, Director Conservation Portfolio; Lou, De-Arne Sutherland, Conservation Partnerships Manager based in Gisborne

Our Gisborne and Te Araroa staff have been extensively involved in supporting Ngati Porou in their vision Mountains to Sea’ with native fish and Hochstetters frog monitoring and habitat restoration. We also discussed the remarkable programme on the restoration of Whangaokeno Island off East Cape (44 tuatara given by Ngati Koata in 2013 and the grey faced petrel programme). We also discussed how we can help the Ngati Porou Miere collective generate local business from manuka honey through Nga Whanua Rahui funding and covenants.

New partnership with the Sustainable Business Council

Also on 6 October, I represented the Department at the signing of a new three-year partnership agreement with the Sustainable Business Council.

Lou at the signing with Sustainable Business Council Executive Director Penny Nelson.

Lou at the signing with Sustainable Business Council Executive Director Penny Nelson

Many businesses aren’t aware of their dependency on natural resources and healthy ecosystems.

The three year agreement will see DOC working with 50 key businesses to promote ecosystems services and biodiversity best practice, and explore market incentives for mitigating and rewarding good ecosystem stewardship.

Department of Corrections MOU

On 29 September Corrections CEO Ray Smith and myself signed a four year National Framework Agreement to work together on conservation projects around New Zealand.

Each year the Department of Corrections contributes the equivalent of 2,500 FTE to community work around New Zealand. This agreement enables a substantial amount of this resource to be directed to initiatives that support our 2025 stretch goals. The agreement is heavily focused on health and safety and providing a learning environment for offenders that ultimately supports their employment in a post-Corrections environment.

This will involve work on

• 14,500 km of track
• 150,000 hectares of weed control
• Prison-based nursery pilots

Some great examples of us working together are already in place, such as the Karangahape Gorge mountain bike track, Te Henga Walkway, the Turangi Whio breeding facility and Manawatu Gorge Track.

Kaipo Hut upgrade

I was over the moon to see the work done by Te Anau staff and volunteers with the historic Kaipo Hut, built in the 1960s and located in one of the most wonderful places in New Zealand, accessible from the 1,300 metre Kaipo Wall in Fiordland.

The exterior of the newly refurbished Kaipo Hut, Fiordland.

The exterior of the newly refurbished Kaipo Hut, Fiordland

I was in this hut in 2001 with John Cumberpatch when we heard about 9/11 and what had happened to the twin towers, so it’s a setting I’ll never forget.

Senior Ranger Ken Bradley has been working with Barrie Green of the Mackenzie Alpine Trust as project manager on the refurbishment. They’ve secured sponsorship from Mitre10, Jennian Homes, Milford Helicopters, Calder Stewart, Shearmac Aluminium, Carters, Brent Patterson Building, Grant McGlade Builders and the Cessna 180/185 Club to bring this project to fruition.

Barrie Green, builders Brent Patterson and Nick Hislop, Shane Peak, Chris Watson from Jennian Homes and Gerald Scott. Photo supplied by Barrie Green.

Barrie Green, builders Brent Patterson and Nick Hislop, Shane Peak, Chris Watson from Jennian Homes and Gerald Scott. Photo supplied by Barrie Green

Tiritiri Matangi catches up with old friends

In early October, I visited Tiritiri Matangi and met the last lighthouse keepers to live on the island, as well as John Craig, who had the original vision to reforest Tiri 30 years ago.

DOC Ranger Jason Campbell talks visitors through quarantine procedures.

DOC Ranger Jason Campbell talks visitors through quarantine procedures

At that time, they had 300 visitors per year – now they get 35,000 (limited to 170 per day) and it’s Auckland’s number one visitor attraction on TripAdvisor.

Today Tiritiri Matangi is a $4 million business focused on nature, with 50% of their visitors coming from overseas.

Barbara and Ray Walters, who were the last lighthouse keepers on Tiritiri Matagi, with Nan Ray, the island’s first volunteer.

Barbara and Ray Walters, who were the last lighthouse keepers on Tiritiri Matagi, with Nan Ray, the island’s first volunteer

Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi has 2,500 members of which 200 are tour guides. Their income is now over $300,000 a year which they put directly into the island.  Conservation efforts are heavily focused on species translocations, with over 400 hihi translocations now completed.

Predator-free Crofton Downs

Kelvin Hastie.

Kelvin Hastie

Finally, here’s a story of a neighbourhood doing their bit to stop pests threatening our native birds.

When Crofton Downs resident Kelvin Hastie spotted a mustelid (possibly a weasel) in his neighbourhood, he decided to do something about it.

He rallied members of his community to apply for a Halo grant for urban pest eradication. The campaign worked and the community won a $5000 grant in 2014.

200 households are now actively trapping, and Kelvin updates them regularly on their progress towards predator-free. By June this year they had trapped 85 rats, 120 mice, and eight weasels.

Neighbourhood kid Theo Dawson with one of the unlucky pests.

Neighbourhood kid Theo Dawson with one of the unlucky pests

His story formed part of a New Yorker article last year which profiled our country’s efforts to eradicate pests from the mainland, and the community has continued trapping beyond the end of their initial one year project.