Verve Article - December 2015

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Merry Christmas and enjoy the summer

The great Auckland summer is upon us.  While trouble and strife dominates in many parts of the world, we in New Zealand continue to be blessed with peace and stability. 

We face plenty of challenges, with lower dairy prices likely to dampen growth a little and with Auckland’s growth pains still requiring serious investment and careful management, but overall, we have every reason for optimism.

I wish all readers of Verve a Merry Christmas and all the very best for the holiday season.

Over the summer I’ll be taking my family for a few days’ camping at Tawharanui Regional Park, a wonderful peninsula north of Auckland.  It has a great beach, but another attraction is that the peninsula has been predator free for many years.  The bird and sea life is abundant and native trees are regenerating rapidly.

The islands of New Zealand were the last major land masses in the world, with the exception of Antarctica, to be settled by humans.  As the result, the bird life in particular evolved in such a way that made them vulnerable to New World predators that arrived after settlement.

That’s why we, as a society, commit such resources into conservation and efforts to battle pests. 

Notwithstanding, the goodwill and compliments of the season, it must be said, ‘the only good possum is a dead possum!’

I’m pleased that our Conservation Minister, Maggie Barry, has ensured that conservation groups across the country will receive a $2.3 million funding boost to continue their fight against introduced predators.

Native birds like the kakapo, kokako and kiwi are defenceless against and constantly under threat from wild rat, stoat and possum populations.

Budget 2015 also invested $11.2 million to save the kiwi from extinction in the wild.

The DOC Community Fund will help over 30 groups from Whangarei to Fiordland continue their vital contribution to our natural environment and the wellbeing of our native bird species.

Meantime, the ‘War on Weeds’ programme encourages Kiwis to roll up their sleeves and join the fight against invasive weeds.

Weeds choke forests and waterways, restrict habitat, and could ruin cherished and valuable natural landscapes.

The War on Weeds focuses on the Dirty Dozen – 12 weeds which are causing particular problems in different parts of the country.

The Royal Society estimates exotic weeds cost the agricultural sector $1.2 billion a year in control costs and lost productivity.

Meantime, for those Verve readers scrambling for ideas for adventure this summer, try visiting the new Aotea Conservation Park. It spreads over more than 12,000 hectares, or 43 per cent of Great Barrier Island.

The park will enable increased public access to the island’s breath-taking beauty, while safeguarding its natural treasures and unique species like the chevron skink, one of New Zealand’s rarest reptiles.