August 2017 – Predator-free 2050

  Can we rid New Zealand of possums, rats and stoats by 2050? ‘Yes, we can,” says Forest & Bird’s Advocacy manager, Kevin Hackwell, who will be the guest speaker at the AGM of the Aongatete Forest Restoration Trust. But Kevin cautions that this is an ambitious goal and will require new techniques and a co-ordinated team effort across communities, iwi, and the public and private sectors. Caution doesn’t come naturally to this dynamo of a man who has been on the frontlin...
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Kevin Hague visits the Forest

  On the 13th July 2017, Kevin Hague, the CEO of Forest and Bird, visited the Forest. We used the opportunity to invite some of our key supporters for morning tea, and to hear an address from David Peters, the secretary and deputy chair of the Aongatete Forest Project, on behalf of the Trust. His speech follows:- First of all I’d like to welcome you all and thank you for coming. In particular, I’d like to welcome Kevin Hague, the Chief Executive Officer of our main partner in the ...
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Cheeky robins a measure of forest’s health

The forest at Aongatete is now alive with birds after 12 years of pest control and soon 20 volunteers are going to prove it. A count of North Island robin will take place in the forest on Sunday, 30 July, organized by the Aongatete Forest Project. “Robins are cute, engaging, cheeky birds,” says project chair Barbara McGillivray, “and they’re also a good indicator that the forest is coming alive again. “When I first started volunteering for pest control in 2007 if we heard just one r...
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June 2017 – Extinction

Extinction is like a full stop. It happens when the very last individual of a species dies. The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has just reported that one in three of our native bird species are at risk of extinction. Already in the Kaimai forest birds like kakariki and kokako are locally extinct. But there are many steps along the road to the very last bird. The same report says that that four out of five bird species are ‘in trouble’. They are not gone from our forests, ...
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May 2017 – Tracking tunnels and discovering geckos

You have to be lucky to see a native gecko in the forest. The little lizards are rare because rats, cats, dogs, stoats, pigs and possums eat them. So it was a red letter day four years ago when a volunteer putting out rat bait came face to face with a gecko. It was a brown and grey forest gecko, an endemic species, which means it is native only to NZ. Then two years ago on a guided walk led by the Aongatete Trust an observant participant saw a green gecko, just as another walker trod on i...
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April 2017 – Giant moss

A giant grows at Aongatete. It’s not a tree or a fern or a flower – it’s a moss. It is the Giant moss, the tallest moss in the world. Mosses are usually short, like green carpet under the trees, but the Giant moss looks like a miniature forest of pine seedlings. Up to 50cm tall, a forest of Giant moss grows along the banks of the track near the Aongatete swimming hole. The Giant moss only grows in New Zealand and its scientific name is Dawsonia superba, Dawsonia aft...
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March 2017 – Rat dog

A new volunteer has come to Aongatete forest to help the Project to control rats. She didn’t walk in carrying a bag of rat bait. Instead she trotted in on her four paws, wearing a special vest and muzzle. She is a rat dog called Millie. Rat dogs are specially trained to detect rats. They and their handlers go regularly to our sanctuary off-shore islands, to check that they remain free of rats. At Aongatete, Millie and her boss Scott Sambell explored around the Outdoor ...
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