While the most noticeable aspect of the restoration of Motuora Island has been the transformation of grass paddocks into bush, behind the scenes is the very important job of controlling weeds. MRS committee member Helen Lindsay leads the weed control program on the island.
In September Helen came out to the island to continue her war against weeds. Over three weeks we (Helen, Sian, and I) managed to grid search a large proportion of the island and remove any weeds lurking within the plantings and bush remnants. We also managed to check some of the cliffs by abseiling with help from Richard Sharp.
However, there are some areas on the island we cannot abseil to and these include 2 rock stacks on the eastern side of the island. To help with the control of weeds in these hard to reach places we enlisted the help of Skywork Helicopters. On a calm day in early October Skyworks came out and sprayed boxthorn, boneseed and a few pine trees that we were unable to reach.
Skyworks helicopter spraying boxthorn on a rock stack
An added bonus of having the helicopter out here was that we were able to get a bird’s eye view of the island and take some aerial photos to compare with earlier shots taken from the air.
Early aerial photo of Motuora
Motuora from the SE
Motuora from the NW
Spring has arrived on Motuora with its characteristic burst of plant growth, continuous blustery westerlies, and birds nesting. In the last few days we have noticed a few new arrivals to Motuora’s bird population. These include five little paradise ducklings, two dotterel chicks, numerous little blue penguin chicks and one welcome swallow chick.
The first two dotterel chicks hatched at home bay this spring
We have also welcomed new arrivals from further afield. Seven kiwi chicks have been released already this spring, with more due to come. The kiwi eggs are collected from bush around the Whangarei area and hatched at Auckland Zoo. The young kiwi are then brought to Motuora as part of ‘operation nest egg’. Motuora is used as a ‘kiwi creche’, meaning the young kiwi will live on the pest free island until they are big enough to fend off predators on the mainland.
One of the seven kiwi chicks released on Motuora so far this spring
Thirty-two volunteers enjoyed a beautiful spring day on Motuora. Guided by the Island Managers Toby Shanley and Sian Potier as well as MRS Committee member Helen Lindsay the volunteers accomplished much needed track and view site maintenance as well as pricking out Pohutukawa, Mahoe and Karaka seedlings into individual potting bags.
Muehlenbeckia engulfing flowering gorse
Motuora is looking fabulous with lush bush now cloaking much of the Island. And it’s amazing to see how the native plants are choking out the little remaining gorse. See image of Muehlenbeckia engulfing a flowering gorse bush.
However there is still much work required to continue the restoration of Motuora. Infill planting where trees have been lost as well as the planting of canopy trees will continue along with the planned translocation of birds, lizards, skinks, gekos and insects. All this depend on the support of willing volunteers. So please don’t hesitate to get involved.
Pricking out seedlings
Track maintenance team enjoying morning tea break
Sian Potier, Island Co Manager with MRS Committee members Kit Brown, Helen Lindsay and Kevin Hawkins contemplating a new planting area on Motuora
We had a great turnout at the end of August for the first and only planting day for the year, with the Kawau Cat bringing around 65 people out to the island. With a great effort from everyone we managed to get all the remaining plants in the ground and a great day was had by all. The following photos were supplied by Eleanor Barwell the HR advisor of Bridgestone New Zealand Ltd, one of our sponsors.
Sian and Toby helping volunteers land from the Kawau Kat