New Island Managers Farewelled, New Manager Welcomed and AGM

During the April workday on Motuora the chairperson of the Motuora Restoration Society, Ray Lowe farewelled Sian Potier and Toby Shanley, island co:managers since 2012 and welcomed the new manager Vonny Sprey.

Sian & Toby previous Island managers with Ray MRS chairman and Vonny new Island manager

Toby Shanley, Sian Potier, Ray Lowe and Vonny Sprey

Ray Lowe with Sian and Toby after presentation of Raoul Island book

Sian and Toby came to Motuora after honing their conservation skills on Raoul Island in the Kemadecs. Their unique combination of skills enabled them to manage Motuora superbly. The Motuora Restoration Society delights in the accomplishments of these young professionals and the prodigious work that they have done on Motuora. We are sorry to see them leave but wish them well as they continue their conservation work and start a family. In appreciation for their work for the Motuora Restoration Society Ray presented Toby and Sian with a book on Raoul Island and the Kemadecs.

Vonny Sprey the new Motuora Island Manager


Remarkably the Society has managed to employ a new island manager, Vonny Sprey who has also honed her environmental skills on Raoul. Originally from a farming background she has much conservation and outdoors experience. Apart from Raoul and her Turangawaewae—Kapiti Island—her favourite places are Enderby Island and the diving around the Poor Knights but she suspects that Motuora will be added to that list. The Motuora Restoration Society is pleased to welcome another well qualified and capable person as the Manager of Motuora.

The Annual General Meeting of the Motuora Restoration Society was held on May 25th in the Silverdale St Johns Ambulance building. Originally scheduled to take place on Motuora the meeting was transferred to Silverdale because the weather forecast predicted winds that would make landing and leaving the island difficult.

Twenty-two members attended. Kit Brown, Treasurer, presented the Chairperson’s Report as Ray Lowe was unwell. (Click to download pdf copy of Report)

The following members were elected to the Motuora Restoration Society:

Chairperson: Ray Lowe; Treasurer: Lakshmanan Nataraj; Secretary: Kit Brown; Committee Members: Colin Cordes, Les Buckton, Kevin Hawkins, Helen Lindsay, Liz Norquay, Bruce Ross and John Stewart.

At the AGM John Stewart formally thanked Jill Thomas for her 11 years as the Society’s Treasurer. Her vital contribution ensured that the Society’s accounts were diligently and efficiently managed. After a vote of thanks, passed with acclamation Jill was presented with a small gift.

Jill Thomas, Treasurer of Motuora Restoration Society 2002-20014

Stephen Wallace, a masters student at Auckland University,  presented the initial findings of his study of the insect population in the newly planted forest compared to established remnant bush on Motuora. This is a follow up study on the work done by Robin Gardner-Gee 10 years ago. Watch this space for a blog by Stephen outlining his findings.

Stephen Wallace presenting at AGM

Apart from farewelling Sian and Toby and welcoming Vonny the 14 volunteers and members worked during the April workday on Motuora to clean the gannet site and decoys, tend to some track clearance and weed nursery seedlings. Below is a gallery of photos taken during the April workday. (Click on each image to see full size)

Successful Planting Day

Despite a thunderstorm over Auckland at 5:30am on Sunday morning (25/08/13) 96 people got to Sandspit by 8:00am prepared to plant trees on Motuora. Although cloudy with occasional drizzle the day was calm so the trip to Motuora was smooth and the Kawau Kat was able to nose in to the shore enabling folk to disembark using a gang plank.

Embarking the Kawau Kat to leave Motuora

Ray Lowe, MRS Chairman welcoming volunteers

Before planting began Ray Lowe, MRS Chairman, welcomed the large contingent of Bridgestone workers as well as regular members and members of Forest and Bird who had braved the elements to come and plant trees. He also acknowledged Bridgestone Ltd’s sponsorship of MRS. Bridgestone Ltd have supported the restoration work on Motuora by encouraging their workers to participate in the workdays and recently the Company became an important financial sponsor of the Motuora Restoration Society.

Bill Dyall & Ray Lowe


Bill Dyall, Bridgestone Ltd Corporate Accounts Manager, responded to Ray’s welcome and spoke enthusiastically about the participation of the Bridgestone team in the restoration work before he and Trish Southan, Bridgestone Consumer Business, presented a sign to be mounted on  a sign on the potting shed that recognizes MRS sponsors.

Bill Dyall & Trish Southan  presenting sign acknowledging Bridgestone’s sponsorship of MRS

After the formalities some 5,000 trees were planted by the 96 volunteers under the able guidance of regular MRS members and volunteers, the group of Forest and Bird Society members present and MRS committee members. Many children also helped with the planting.

Busy planters


Planting was completed before noon so there was ample opportunity for folk to explore the island and see some of the bird life and the bountiful Kowhai and Manuka flowers.

Kowhai planted in 2003

The Motuora Restoration Society is grateful for the support of members and volunteers as we recognise that it is a considerable commitment to travel to Sandspit early on a Sunday morning and contribute to the cost of hiring the ferry to Motuora. MRS subsidises the ferry costs as we want as many people as possible to experience the magic of Motuora.

We hope you will come again.



A gallery of photos from Sunday 25th August 2013:

 Click on image to see larger version.


September & August Workday

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

August Workday

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


Infill planting