Tiny boxes bring big excitement

If there was a Kiwibuild programme for our native bird species, the rifleman that live in Aongatete forest have scooped the ballot! Thanks to the perseverance of volunteer Barry Pethybridge, nest boxes purpose-built for titipounamu (rifleman) are boasting their first confirmed breeding success at the top of Wright Road. Rifleman were first confirmed as present at Aongatete about five years ago, a hugely encouraging sign for the dedicated members of Aongatete Forest Project (AFP), who have...
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Bay Conservation Alliance: big aspirations for nature conservation

Bay Conservation Alliance launched on Friday 21st September 2018 as part of National Conservation Week and with the support of Conservation Minister Hon. Eugenie Sage. Founded by four Western Bay Community Conservation groups – Maketu Ongatoro Wetland Society, Otanewainuku Kiwi Trust, Aongatete Forest Project and the Uretara Estuary Managers, Bay Conservation Alliance has been set up to support and grow community led environmental restoration and nature conservation. Newer members include...
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Neighbours Newsletter – Winter 2018

New Phone Number The Project now has a permanent contact number. The number is forwarded to a “duty officer”, to deal with day to day enquiries. If you have any questions or concerns about activities in the forest and need an immediate answer then dial this number –  07 808 0792. If your question is not urgent, then please email field.manager@aongateteforest.org. Subscribe to our public newsletters We have just published our latest public newsletter. This goes to over 300 volunteers a...
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June 2018 – Seeds for the future

Planting seeds is all about hope. Provided they are watered and the birds don’t scratch them up, tiny carrot seeds will put up their first feathery leaf within a week. But the equally tiny Dactylanthus seeds we sowed in the Aongatete forest may not poke their knobby buds out of the leaf litter for eight years! It is not that the seeds lie dormant all that time. Their first tiny roots must reach and penetrate the root of a host plant if they are to make any progress, for Dactylanthus is pa...
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April 2018 – Volunteering at Aongatete Forest

A community thrives on volunteers and they come in all shapes and sizes. Whether its helping the environment or the elderly or the infirm or the animals, every voluntary group needs a variety of people. And so it is with the Aongatete Forest Project. There’s Barry and Tom, the strong, silent types, who vanish all day into the forest with packs heavy with rat bait or possum lures. There’s Barbara, whose ebullient personality gets us doing things we really didn’t think we could do. There’s ...
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The Lazarus Effect – Protect one species and resurrect a whole forest

Ann Graeme shares her personal stories of native New Zealand birds and insects that have returned after community pest control is carried out for another species. She calls it the “Lazarus effect”. It rained in the night. My pack is heavy with rat bait, and I am following East 5, a bait line marked with pink ribbon, through the forest. Up, down, up the bank. It’s steep and slippery, and I pull myself higher, clutching the tree trunks. There’s the bait station. I open i...
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February 2018 – Forest ringlet butterfly

Forest ringlet, Dodonidia helmsii, Mokihinui by Melissa Hutchison
As the song goes; ‘If you go into the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise,’ and that is just what happened recently to two volunteers checking Timms Trap lines in Aongatete forest. In a sunny glade, Barbara and Jenny saw a Forest ringlet, or Helms butterfly. It had alighted on the leaf of a grassy plant but, as they fumbled excitedly for a camera, it flitted away. The grassy plant was a sedge called Gahnia which is the food plant for the butterflies’ caterpillars. Sure enough, when th...
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Newsletter for our Neighbours

Greetings, neighbors of Aongatete Forest. This is the first of more regular newsletters from us, to keep you informed about our activities. Pest Levels We regularly measure the pest levels in the Forest. Monitoring done in early February shows that OUTSIDE the controlled area, our traps showed a 65% incidence of rats, compared to 8% within our controlled area. In one part of our forest where we have recently deployed 50 or so Good Nature traps, our rat indice is now 0%. Possum levels out...
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December 2017 – Geology

Behind Aongatete the forest gradually rises to the high ridge called Ngatamahinerua. This massive landform is part of the range of the Kaimai volcanos which stretch south from Moehau in Coromandel. The Kaimai range is in the Coromandel Ecological District, meaning that it’s wildlife, plants and geology are all related. Made of a rock called andesite, the Kaimai volcanoes are of a similar nature to Ngauruhoe. The eruptions that created the Kaimai range divided the Bay of Plenty from the Waikat...
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November 2017 – The lone kauri at Aongatete

The long loop track at Aongatete leads gently up into the Kaimai forest. The forest changes as you climb. The lowland trees like puriri and kohekohe give way to tanekaha, totara, miro and the white-flowered tawari. If you turn west and scramble along bait line 23, you will get a surprise. You will find a lone kauri tree. It is taller than the surrounding forest and must be more than 100 years old. Aongatete is beyond the southern margin of kauri forest, which stops rather abruptly at Hot S...
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