Every month the Island Ranger, Darren Gash, provides an update on what has been happening on the island, below is the current report.

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Matakohe-Limestone Island Rangers' Report - June 2020

Whatever happened to winter? Now that we have entered June the weather still feels like Autumn which brings no complaints from me and, I’m sure, not from the people of Northland as plenty have been making the most of the warmer weather swimming, boating and fishing during the nice calm weekends.

Here on the island the plants are perking up after the large downfall of rain we had over Queen’s Birthday weekend. It certainly filled up the ponds most of which were struggling to hold any water before.

Here is all the latest that has been happening on the island.

Visitors and Volunteers

  • Volunteer Wednesday started up again on a wonderfully calm, clear day in June with lots of the regular volunteers returning to assist in the work on the island. On this day we started off with a mouse bust, rebaiting the baitstations on the north face of the island, as the mouse numbers were beginning to grow. Afterwards people helped Dwane plant some cabbage trees around the ‘six pack’ quarry area while others controlled moth plant vines that were growing around the Edge house, and the rest cleaned up rubbish that was starting to accumulate on the beach.
  • The good folks over at ParkCare came over to do their regular track cutting on the island as it had been a few months since they were cleared due to the lockdown. The tracks are now looking fresh and clear after they had become a little bit overgrown.
  • Speaking of track cutting, a big thanks to Dave for coming over to the island to do the usual mowing on the grass tracks of the northern area.
  • After switching the fridge from gas to electricity we noticed that it was using up a large amount of the power from the solar power batteries so it was decided we needed a more energy-efficient fridge. Our thanks go to John who purchased the new fridge. With the help of Dwane, M Ken and Carla we successfully barged it over and, after a lengthy amount of time figuring out how to uninstall the old fridge, banged the new one in place. Since the older hybrid fridge is still in working order it was agreed to try to sell it on Trade Me.
  • Dwane and Angela Kokich made a couple of trips over to the island, firstly, with Tessa and her son who looked around at a couple of spots to possibly care for as part of the adopt-a-spot programme. During the second trip Dwane brought over 100 cabbage trees which will be planted later on by the Onerahi Lions.
  • The fire extinguishers on the island were due for their annual inspection and all passed with flying colours when they were inspected by the team at Wormald. However, it was noted that next year they will be due for their five-year pressure service in which case it will be cheaper to replace all six extinguishers.
  • Marine North also came over to undertake the annual servicing on the Petrel Tua Toru and the little Petrel. Aside from the odd spot of corrosion on the barge’s outboard and replacing its steering cable, both boats were found to be in working order.
  • Earlier in the month Paul Doherty, who will be assisting me with some work with Golden Bay Cement, was inducted on how to use the Petrel Tua Toru as per requirements.

Flora and fauna

  • The three-monthly animal monitoring was undertaken in late May. 48 tracking cards were placed into tracking tunnels. The results showed that the mouse numbers were on the rise again with a 44% tracking rate of mice This is a huge increase from February’s result which was a 14% track rate. However, it is still good to see no signs of rats or mustelids in the tracking cards.
  • No new petrels have been sighted in the burrows during the regular monitoring. The petrels that successfully fledged a chick last year have started placing nesting material in their burrow. Hopefully we will have another chick this year!
  • Sir Ed has still not been nesting which may have been due to the lack of rain in the summer. Another kiwi was also found hiding away in one of the petrel burrows. This one was brought over back in 2018 and was in healthy condition.
  • Trapping catch rates have been a little bit lower this month with only a few rats and mice being caught.
  • A plague skink was spotted on the island near the flax field ruins. After catching it and confirming it was a plague skink, thanks to the help of Ben Barr, it was then ‘removed’ from the island. As it is quite possible it was not the only individual on the island, we are looking at getting a skink dog over to see if there are any more individuals.

Other News

  • Following the storm that occurred on Queen’s Birthday weekend with heavy rain and strong winds, a lot of trees on the island ended up toppling over, some ended up on the paths and required a bit of pruning to open up the tracks.
  • I had made up some new petrel box lids after noticing some of the old lids were beginning to deteriorate, and some were even to the point where the lid had completely collapsed into the burrow.
  • As the automated petrel caller had been acting up it was taken into Electrosound to get it back into working order.

Upcoming Events

Our next volunteer Wednesday will be on the 1st of July. All are welcome to join in. We will be meeting at the Onerahi jetty at 9am and will return by 2pm.


All the best