Every month the Island Ranger, Jo Skyrme, 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 2021

Kia ora MLI fan club, here we are in June and what a busy month it’s shaping up to be, made all the busier by me taking a week away from the Island to spend time with family. It seems our local schools are all trying to fit in a last-minute field trip before the end of Term 1, braving the wind and rain for an Island getaway. Our tanks are full, the ground is soft and it’s so nice to see the leaky dam, the 6-pack, and even Gerry’s Folly filled with water. The wild-life are loving it and the kiwi are out in force, often calling Darin in on his way home from work and sometimes even sending him on his way in the early hours of the morning. Strong winds from the east have been battering the Island, causing a few dead trees to come down and scattering branches over the tracks. Luckily our little house faces NW so we have been relatively sheltered for the most part. As usual, I have provided an overview of the month’s activities - if nothing else than to prove to myself that I have actually been ticking things off my list. Enjoy.

Visitors, volunteers, and other comings and goings

John Ward and his friend Roland came for a visit and to help me service the Honda Generator which works in conjunction with the cottage solar system. Thanks to their guidance I am confident I’ll be able to service it on my own in the future. It was great to see the return of my favourite tool, the Hayes Strainer, with the guys finishing up a small section of fencing behind the Singlemen’s quarters that needed attention, and repairing a snapped wire by the flax fields. The sheep have evidently been plotting an escape, leaving skid marks in the mud where they have been trying, unsuccessfully, to push themselves under the fence. No such luck thanks to the maintenance carried out by John, Roland, and me earlier in the year.

A large group of 65 from Whangarei Primary School - requiring three return barge trips - came over in the first week of June. I dropped each group on the beach and told them that they were welcome to explore the old Manager’s house while they waited for me to tie up the boat. In an Island first (I believe) I came up the road to find those who could fit jammed on the deck of the Ranger’s cottage (my house). Perhaps my instructions weren’t as clear as I thought, or maybe I just take for granted the fact that most of our groups/teachers have visited before. Nonetheless, it gave me a chuckle.

Volley day went ahead on the 2 June with a group of 15 including three newcomers. In a last-minute change of plan, I had decided that the day’s task would be to fill the bait stations along the north face as part of our Island wide mouse bust. We got off to a shaky start organisationally but, in the end, we managed to complete all the lines along the grassy face. Phew! After lunch a few people went off to clear the drains (good move given the weather to follow), fell a couple of dead trees in the orchard, tickle up some of the tools/spades with the grinder, cut back flax from tracks and deal to a number of elusive Chinese privet bushes.

I was sad to hear, during our last Committee meeting, that long-time island volunteer, Steve Phillips, would no longer be able to join us for our monthly volunteer days. I would like to personally thank Steve for all his hard work on the Island both before and during my time as Ranger. Steve is a dedicated and enthusiastic volunteer who gives countless hours to multiple Whangarei-based conservation projects. Please stay in touch Steve, you will be missed!

Speaking of returnees, our regular Horahora Primary adopt-a-spot group came over on 9 June to lend a helping hand. It was a wet, slippery day so instead of working on their adopt-a-spot we got stuck into some thistle grubbing around the cement work ruins. A big help. I am looking forward to seeing Horahora again in Term 4.

June Pitman caught a ride over with the Horahora group and spent the day exploring the Island where her grandfather used to row to work, and photographing the Pou, carved at the Hihiaua Cultural Centre, over seen by Te Warihi Hetaraka. June is a writer who is documenting the taonga of tohunga whakairo Te Warihi Hetaraka that are displayed in public spaces throughout Te Tai Tokerau as part of the Tuia Mapping our Stories kaupapa.

After having to reschedule a couple of times, I finally got Marine North over to service the Island’s outboards. They were a little shocked to find that I hadn’t been “flushing” either of the outboards and I was shocked to find out that I should have been, even though it makes complete sense to me now! It looks like the volleys might be helping me dig a length of alkathene pipe down to the barge berth at some point in the future. A big thanks to Dirk and Bevan from Marine North who took the time to answer all my questions regarding the motors and maintenance. They couldn’t have been more friendly, patient, and helpful.

Flora and Fauna

After what I thought were probably cheeky pheasants continually knocking down the gates in the petrel station, I found three large petrel feathers inside another one of the burrows, along with a small amount of new nesting material. Hopefully this is a good sign! Everything has been very quiet since this exciting find, with even our resident pair taking a leave of absence. Hopefully we will see action in more than one burrow when the birds return to lay their eggs towards the end of this month/early July!

Pest Control

In the last month Paul has caught 4 Norway rats, all on Knight Island.

I am currently making my way around of the Island completing the rest of the mouse bust lines. I was grateful to have Johnny Beech come and help me with this last Friday. Together we were able to smash out a good section of the steep, bush clad lines. I have continued to chip away at it as and when I can, with the weather being the main limiting factor. Taking the time reflagging and tagging the lines at the end of last year is helping a lot with getting them done this time around.

Several members of the FOMLI committee, our Onerahi trapping group, as well as Island trapper Paul, and I, attended the Northland Pest Control Wānanga at Whitiora Marae in Te Tii at the end of May. We heard about the latest in trapping developments and technologies and from several local groups/people doing incredible work in their communities. I was particularly interested to hear from Key Industries about their developments with wasp control. Nga mihi to our hosts Ngāti Rehia and Kiwi Coast for their hospitality, which included a fantastic spread for both morning tea and lunch!

Kia ora to Dai and Bevan from Tiakina Whangarei for sponsoring a couple of buckets of cereal bait and some replacement DOC 200 traps. Thanks for everything you do and all your support guys. Legends!

Last but not least, I need to give a shout out to Ross Mckenzie from our Onerahi trappers’ group. Ross whipped up 20 new rat trap boxes to house our much larger victor rat traps. Thanks so much Ross, you are also, A LEGEND!

Future Events

Volunteer day on 7 July, pickup at Onerahi jetty 0900.

Until next month,