This is the second blog in the Hole-in-One for Conservation series.
The Predator Free 2050 (PF2050) goal is working towards an Aotearoa where our native species are safe from extinction and thrive alongside us. This ambitious goal aims to eradicate our three most harmful predators – stoats, rats, and possums – from all of New Zealand. And everyone has a role to play.
Auckland Council’s Pest Free Auckland initiative supports, inspires and motivates local communities to protect and restore nature in Tāmaki Makaurau. DOC, Pest Free Auckland, and our region’s golf courses are working together to champion predator control, habitat restoration, and sustainability on golf courses. With 500,000 regular players and clubs across the country, the golfing community is in a unique position to lead local action for our precious native species. Below, we highlight Clarks Beach Golf Club as a club achieving big wins for nature, communities, AND recreation.
Hole-in-One for Conservation: Clarks Beach Golf Club
A seven-decade age difference makes Clarks Beach Golf Club stalwart, Lew White (88), and senior Wesley College student, Reon Morrison (16), an unlikely duo. But their shared passion for protecting native species from destructive predators brought them together. Clarks Beach is Located on the southern shores of the Manukau Harbour in the Franklin district.
Great conversations can start over a beer
Paul Arthur, a dedicated member of local Predator-Free Franklin community group C.R.E.S.T., was having a beer after a game and chatting with fellow golfers. He mentioned the significant possum damage he had noticed on the course. This came a surprise to the members as they did not think they had a possum problem. .
The Club leapt into action. Life member Lew teamed up with C.R.E.S.T. volunteers, including youthful Reon. The community group provided the Club with 15 “Flipping Timmy” possum traps – and helped place them around the course. Within 10 days, they had caught a whopping 82 possums.
Bait, trap, check, repeat…
Reon kept up his trap-checking for the Club, sometimes bringing Lew along with. During a routine check, they both noticed the tell-tale signs of rat poo. This motivated the duo to up their predator-control plan.
To tackle rats, they agreed to use bait stations instead of traps to prevent harming golfers when retrieving wayward golf balls.After all, you need all your fingers for a decent swing! The team, whose numbers had swelled to include more keen members, installed rat bait stations (and signs). Reon, who aspires to a career in conservation, enthusiastically checked and filled the stations regularly. The initial bait take-up was huge and eventually settled. This was a sure sign the rat population was under control. The possum catch also dropped tenfold to about 6 per week. The team logged these impressive changes in predator numbers on Trap.NZ.
Fewer predators, more native birds, cleaner water
Before Lew and Reon started their trapping work, members lamented how there were very few native birds on the course, when they had once been abundant. Today, these bird populations have bounced back and you can hear tūī and kōtare everywhere. Players are particularly delighted by sightings of returning kererū.
Encouraged by their success, this dynamic duo is taking on new conservation projects. The Club, C.R.E.S.T., DOC, Auckland Golf and World Wildlife Fund are partnering to lead community clean-ups and native riparian plantings along local waterways including those on the course. To date, 1000 plants have been planted. These will help filter run-off, stablise the banks and provide habitat for growing bird populations.
Lew and Reon prove that age is no barrier to taking action for nature. Their friendship has inspired the community to help control predators, restore local habitat, and clean up their awa (river). Check out their feel-good story on TVNZ’s Good Sorts.
Get involved in Predator Free 2050
Curious how you or your business can join courses like Clarks Beach Golf Club in getting involved in Predator Free 2050? Learn more about finding your local group, trapping in your community, and getting the whole whānau involved.