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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October 2017 – Fun in the Forest

The native forest is full of surprises. During the coming Conservation Week in the Aongatete forest there will be two opportunities for everyone who is curious to explore. The first activity, ‘Secrets of the forest’, will be on Sunday morning, 15th October from 10 to 12.30. This guided walk will be particularly suitable for families and children 8 to 12 years old. Every child will be given an activity booklet with quizzes and quests and we will set out to find the answers along the Short ...
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Let’s Count Kereru while we put out our rat baits

The Great Kereru Count coincides with our Baiting Day on 30 Sept. You can all help to get an idea of how many kereru we have at Aongatete by keeping a tally of the number of bird you see and hear along you way. We will collate the total back at the kohanga. Spring is such a wonderful time to see our amazing native birds at Aongatete. If you would like to help control rats and count kereru visit our website www.aongateteforest.org/volunteer-page/  
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September 2017 – Flowers of the Forest

Most of the flowers in the native forest are not showy. Many are small, white and – to our eyes – boring. But flowers are not designed to please us but to attract animals to carry pollen from flower to flower to fertilise their seeds. Pollinating insects like bees and butterflies can see colours but New Zealand had few native butterflies and only small, solitary bees (the familiar honey bee is introduced.) But we have hundreds of native moths, beetles and ants, and these insects are colou...
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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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