November Workday 2014

As the planting for 2014 is complete the final Motuora workday for 2014 enabled volunteers and committee members to clear the upper twin dam of weeds, to prick out some seedlings and perform some essential maintenance of island equipment.

Weeding upper twin dam

Weeding upper twin dam

Over the last two dry summers the upper twin dam and the large pond near the water tanks have dried up. The large pond now has water but is still low. The upper twin dam is also dry. We hope that there will be enough rain this summer so that the dams will not dry out again.


Dry top dam March 2014

Also on Sunday Chris Green and 2 helpers checked the wetapunga hutches to see if any of the wetapunga released this year are still inhabiting these residences. Most, it seems,  have moved away. More details in a later blog.

July Workday and more wetapunga

Panorama of Motuora from Home Bay beach at low tide

Waiting to board the Kawau Kat
Photo: Richard Hadfield

On Sunday July 27th 82 people took advantage of the large ferry to participate in the workday on Motuora. A large group of Bridgestone staff, some with their families, along with a Royal Oak scout group made up the bulk of the day’s working party.

Waiting for the sausage sizzle






As most of the pioneer planting on Motuora is complete only a small amount of infill planting and canopy trees needed to be planted. So, according to Vonny (the Island manager) 898 trees were planted in 4 infill sites including the planting of carrex grasses around the top pond and muehlembeckia at the top of the Home Bay track. The planting was supervised by Vonny, MRS committee members and 4 of the DoC volunteers who had been working for Vonny all week.

Shaun Trevan and Kerry Gillbanks manicured the storm damage on the large macrocarpa on the Home Bay camp ground. Shaun’s professional arborist and tree climbing skills were necessary to remove the large broken branches from the macrocarpa while retaining the majesty of this old tree. Thank you Shaun and Kerry.

Home Bay macrocarpa after aborist, Shaun Trevan, removed wind damaged branches.


Shaun and Kerry removing the willow tree branch

Shaun and Kerry also removed the branches of the willow tree overhanging the water tank of the manager’s cottage. This willow was infested with giant black willow aphids last summer and the honey dew produced by these aphids contaminated the tank water. It is interesting that these aphids are a very recent arrival in New Zealand and have spread suddenly and  widely over the country. How did they get to Motuora so quickly? Another puzzle is that they have disappeared earlier in the season than they do overseas. It’s not clear where they go when they vanish. Unfortunately the aphid honey dew encourages wasps which were a problem this summer.

A big thank you to the lads who did the dishes after the sausage sizzle!

Wetapunga News from Chris Green (DoC)

On 26th June during a brief break in the weather a further 231 wetapunga were released into the bush above Pohutukawa Bay.  While most of these (216) came from the captive colony at Auckland Zoo there were 15 from the Butterfly Creek colony.  This is very significant as they come from different parentage and this adds to the genetic diversity of the founding population. The site is the same as that where 150 were released from the Zoo on 3rd April.

Paparazzi attention focused on full-grown female wetapunga released on April 3rd 2014. Photo: Ray Lowe

Most of these weta are more than than half grown and will be maturing into adults over the coming 6 – 8 months. Monitoring of these released weta is planned for late this year to verify they have reached adult so egg laying could be expected over summer and autumn next year. Meanwhile monitoring of the first releases in Macrocarpa Bay is also planned for later this year.

Photo Gallery

Below is a gallery of the above photos plus some photographs taken on the July workday by Richard Hadfield as well as some additional wetapunga images captured by Ray Lowe and Liz Mair. All other photos by Bruce Ross. Click on each image to view full size.



Essential Weed Control on Motuora

Each year since 1998 the Motuora Restoration Society has organised and funded weed control programmes, initially focussing on areas we could get to on foot – the interior of the island and gentler cliff slopes – and more recently attacking the steeper cliffs as well.

Toby abseiling over the cliff to check for weeds

Control of yucca on sand dunes

This year we have taken advantage of Toby and Sian’s extensive abseiling and weed control experience to have a major push on dealing to the weeds on the steeper cliffs, where most of our remaining weeds are located.  At the same time we have carried out our regular grid search of the interior of the island to locate the odd plant we have missed and new weeds grown from seed delivered by birds or the wind from plants on the mainland or nearby islands. 

This year’s weed control programme has not been cheap, but we have been fortunate to have obtained generous grants for the work from several sources, notably the Becroft Foundation, the Lion Foundation and WWF, and herbicides donated by Agpro NZ Ltd. 

The photos taken by Sian of Toby in action on the cliffs show that it’s not a job for anyone nervous of heights.

Text by Kit Brown

Photos Sian Potier


Toby abseiling towards the cliff

Cutting bone seed at top of cliff

Cutting bone seed at top of cliff

Toby with bone seed cut from cliff face

Toby abseiling to cut bone seed on cliff face

Flowering moth plant found in bush

A flowering moth plant found on coastal bank

Climbing asparagus dug out


Gannet update

On observing the gannet site yesterday we discovered that there are now 17 gannets incubating eggs at the gannet site. With still more birds building nests we are looking forward to seeing plenty of gannet chicks hatching in the coming weeks and months!!