D-G Direct: An update from Lou Sanson

Department of Conservation —  09/12/2016

By Lou Sanson, Director-General

While we have been focusing on the earthquake response, I would also like to share some recent stories of my work over the last couple of months.

I recently met with Theo Spierings, CEO of Fonterra, and our Living Water team, where Theo acknowledged the success we are having with the Living Water partnership and his vision to take the partnership further towards the DOC 2025 stretch goals on freshwater.

Our strategic partnerships manager Andrew Bignell accompanied Minister Maggie Barry to Cancun Mexico for the International Convention on Biological Diversity where the Minister announced a DOC-led initiative to put an international focus on plans to halt the spread of invasive species by IUCN member countries. This will be led by our international team and aims to progress three of the international Aichi targets.

I would like to thank those in our team and other agencies who did exceptional work on the New Zealand Biodiversity Action Plan which was tabled in Mexico.

I’d also like to acknowledge the team who put together the Battle for our Birds video released yesterday on Facebook; which aims to bust some of the myths on 1080 that we are constantly dealing with.

Ngai Tahu agreement signed

Recently we were delighted to bring together the two leadership teams of DOC and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu for our annual hui; and to sign an agreement on how we will enact the Ngāi Tahu settlement in terms of ongoing commitments of both parties to the Treaty Partner relationship.

A lot of this work was done by our Dunedin-based partnerships director Barry Hanson and also acknowledges the strong leadership of our operations and partnerships directors and managers throughout Te Wai Pounamu.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu CEO Arihia Bennett and Lou sign the agreement.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu CEO Arihia Bennett and Lou sign the agreement

Pukaha Mt Bruce

On 11 November I visited the staff and board of Pukaha Mount Bruce. Under the leadership of Bob Francis, they have raised $7 million since 2008 towards their threatened species programme and the tourist experience that Mount Bruce offers. This is a tremendous partnership example, in that we have established the Trust who now employ 26 staff and 50 volunteers. They’re achieving tremendous results, including growing the population of kōkako from 13 to 80 birds in the last eight years.

We are working with them on an aerial 1080 operation and they shared with me some remarkable science on the management of the interface between ferret and rat populations; including how they intend to move ahead on a significant ferret control programme.

Kathy Houkamau, Bob Francis, Helen Tickner, Todd Jenkinson.

Kathy Houkamau, Bob Francis, Helen Tickner, Todd Jenkinson

Wilding confiners announcement at Molesworth Station

Governor-General Her Excellency The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy, along with Minister of Conservation Hon Maggie Barry visited Molesworth Station on Friday 4 November, where they discussed the joint management of Molesworth with Landcorp and DOC.

The South Marlborough Landscape Restoration Trust presented their community engagement plan for dealing with wilding pines throughout their whole region from Hanmer to Blenheim. They have put significant community resources into an integrated wilding pine management plan and the Minister was able to announce $730,000 in Crown funding to control the spread of wildings in Molesworth and North Canterbury’s Amuri block.

Existing investment contributed by MPI, DOC, Landcorp, local government and landowners means the fight against wilding conifers has received a $1 million boost in 2016/17.

The particular focus is to stop the spread from the Tarndale landscapes and the Wahine storm wilding that escaped from the Hanmer in 1968.

Minister Barry with Jim Ward of Molesworth Station and DOC’s Roy Grose.

Minister Barry with Jim Ward of Molesworth Station and DOC’s Roy Grose

Connecting native forest restoration across the globe

On 4 November we joined Queen Elizabeth II National Trust to launch the first of the New Zealand places protected under an open spaces covenant as part of the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy. The location was Mt Terako in Marlborough – 392 hectares representing one of the few larger areas of forest remaining on Canterbury’s modified private land.

The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy was conceived and launched at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Malta last year as a way to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s 90th birthday. It is a partnership between The Palace, the Royal Commonwealth Society; and charity Cool Earth. It aims to connect native forest restoration initiatives across the Commonwealth countries; and to help the 53 member countries share knowledge and best practice regarding forest restoration. New Zealand was one of the first countries to support this initiative.

What a privilege to be there as a precious tract of New Zealand’s iconic landscape was placed under protection for future generations. Huge acknowledgement to the landowners, Sue and Peter Turnbull; the QEII Trust; and the QCC.

His Excellency Sir David Gascoigne and Governor-General Her Excellency The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy with Sue and Peter Turnbull.

His Excellency Sir David Gascoigne and Governor-General Her Excellency The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy with Sue and Peter Turnbull

New Zealand River Awards

A number of us were delighted to share the stories of some of New Zealand’s great examples of freshwater restoration during the 2016 NZ River Awards on 3 November.

The awards are run by the NZ Rivers Trust and the Morgan Foundation to recognise long-term improvement in waterways around the country.

The supreme ‘Most Improved’ award was to Auckland City for a stunning restoration job done on the Puhinui Stream.

The outstanding community engagement story was Waitao Stream. Through a partnership between local farmers, iwi and local government, they had linked up all landowners along the river and created a real sense of community focussed on fixing the water quality of the entire river catchment. This has led to a significant lift in the adjacent wetland and estuary ecosystems as well.

Chathams 25 years service – Helen Murphy

Congratulations to Helen Murphy, one of our administration staff, who recently received a Gold Star medal for 25 years of service to the Chatham Island Volunteer Fire Brigade. Helen is the only woman to have received the medal. Fantastic achievement Helen, DOC is proud to have you as one of our team.

Read more about Helen’s job in her ‘Jobs at DOC’ blog post from 2015.