Tongariro Times August 2016

Tongariro Times August 2016


Tongariro Times August 2016

Welcome Project Tongariro community to a bumper issue of the Tongariro Times!  It's a biggie, so make sure you have some time to relax, read, absorb and reflect!

Our small team have been busy the last couple of months planning for the next 5 months - plantings, conservation week,  AGM, The Goat  1(st rec event on the calendar) and of course, Mahi Aroha - Summer Programme.

Paul is also getting ready for another international conference in China where he has been invited [back] to speak on protected areas in NZ.  Paul is also in charge of putting together the 2016 Tongariro Journal publication.  So if you have some interesting articles and pictures or there are some topics you'd like to see being covered, please let Paul know by the end of September 2016

Picture from Mt Ruapehu Ski Areas Facebook -

Upcoming Dates

Conservation Week - 10th Sept - 18th

Whakaipo Bay Planting Day - Sunday 11th Sept - with Greening Taupo

Predator Control cryptic wetland bird monitoring - Wednesday 14th September, Turangi

Te Matapuna Planting / Weeding day - Saturday 17th September, Turangi

Kids Greening Taupo Planting Day - Sunday 18th September, Taupo

Te Matapuna Planting - Friday 14th October, Turangi

32nd AGM - 15-16th October, Forest and Bird Lodge, Whakapapa Village,  Mt Ruapehu

Avian Aversion Training - November 2016 - the donations collected through course participants towards the Pihanga-Rotopounamu Project

The Goat Alpine Run - Saturday 3rd December,  Mt Ruapehu - Volunteers Needed

Mahi Aroha Summer Programme - 1st - 31st January 2017 - 

Project Tongariro Field Trips - TBC

2016 AGM Notice

The AGM will be held on Saturday 15th October 2015 at Forest & Bird Lodge, Whakaapa Village, Mt Ruapehu from 3pm followed by a main meal and desert.  On Sunday morning we will visit DOC's trapping project at Mangawhero River which will be followed by a joint lunch hosted by Ngati Rangi. Should you wish to nominate a member to join the Executive Committee, please contact with your nomination 


X 2 nights + Meal $115 - Book Now

X 1 night + Meal $70 - Book Now

 Meal Only $25 - Book Now

 Bring your own sleeping bag, pillow case, towel and toilet gear.  BYO Friday night meal plus breakfasts, lunches and drinks. Tea, coffee, milk and pre-dinner nibbles are provided.  Note: 32 beds only and beds are booked on a first in basis. Click here to book and pay now... 

 Schedule & Details: 

 Friday: Evening arrive Forest & Bird Lodge Whakapapa Village and get settled if staying Friday night. Cater own dinner. 

Saturday: Cater own breakfast.  3pm AGM at Forest & Bird Lodge.   5.30pm Pre-dinner drinks (BYO) and 6.30pm Dinner at Forest & Bird Lodge, main meal including dessert by Food with Altitude Catering. Please indicate any dietary requirements when you book online by adding to the 'additional comments' box when you book and pay online.

Sunday:  Cater own breakfast. Field trip to DOC's trapping project at Mangawhero River which will be followed by a joint lunch hosted by Ngati Rangi.

Looking forward to seeing you all at the AGM!

Funding Successes

Some of the recent applications we've submitted to various funders have been successful, these include... 

  • Turangi Tongariro Community Board $3,762 - funding for MiCamp Predator control project - funding for traps and bait

  • Bay Trust - Funding for the Society's Coordinator (me!) $30,000 for this current financial year (1 July 2016 - 30 June 2017)

  • Taupo District Council $20,000 per annum over 3 years - for Greening Taupo

  • Waikato Catchment Ecological Enhancement Trust - Greening Taupo - Waikato River Trench Project

  • Waikato Catchment Ecological Enhancement Trust $5k - Whakaipo Bay planting (Greening Taupo)

A huge heartfelt 'THANK YOU' to all our funders for trusting us to carry out these important activities!

First Tongariro Memorial Fund Endowment

We are pleased to confirm that we have been advised that Shirley Potter has made arrangements with her solicitor that a bequest be made in her will to benefit the Tongariro Memorial Fund managed by the Geyser Community Foundation.  Thank you Shirley for your ongoing support!

For those of you interested in  the Tongariro Memorial Fund please find further information here:

Tongariro Memorial Fund with the Geyser Foundation

Strategic Planning Underway

For the last couple of months the Executive Board has been studiously beavering away on updating our Strategic Plan.   It was jointly agreed by the present board that undertaking 'conservation in today's social and economic environment' has changed remarkably, and this will be the first time we have really checked in on our Values, Purpose and Vision since our inception 32 years ago. 

Among other things, we are aiming to achieve the following from the new plan: 

  • Something that connects back to the organisation

  • Something that is different to what we have had in the past 

  • A strategy that articulates a five year path and a ten year vision 

  • A strategy that articulates our destination and how are we going to get there 

  • We want this organisation to connect with tangata whenua and community in the park

  • We wish for the strategy to be agile, relevant to park users & to be accessible to the wider public 

  • A strategy that visualises an end state 

 We have been focusing on the following topics, undertaking a 'SWOT' analysis on each to enable a clear direction forward. These include:

  • Purpose of Strategy

  • Our Values

  • Our Brand

  • Marketing

  • Key Projects Aligning with Membership & our 'Pillars'

  • Revenue & Resources. 

In the next month we should have a draft document together which we will 'test' on a focus group - this group will contain long-standing and strategically involved members of Project Tongariro and employed staff.   Once this has been completed we will be bringing the draft Strategic Plan to the 32nd AGM for acceptance / voting in by our members.   Should you wish to comment,  please contact us via email.

Tongariro Memorial Award Recipient Simon Stewart Reports on his Project


Simon Stewart,  University of Waikato, PhD

"Nitrogen – food web interactions in Lake Taupo, New Zealand”

My project aims to understand the link between nitrogen (N) cycling in Lake Taupo and the food web which supports the Taupo region’s renowned trout fishery.  Lake Taupo is the crèche for the Tongariro River fishery; juvenile trout enter the lake where they grow rapidly on abundant food before returning to the river to spawn.  Over the last two decades a substantial increase in the nitrogen load entering Lake Taupo has caused concern about declining water quality and has resulted in the implementation of significant catchment management plans for N.  However,  the effects of increased N run-off for the Lake Taupo food web have not been quantified.  

My PhD project integrates two approaches to investigate these links.  Firstly, I have conducted detailed sampling in the Lake over an annual cycle to understand the mechanisms linking N-cycling to food web dynamics.  Secondly, I am looking at long-term time series data to see how various food web parameters interact over decadal time-scales.  One vital component which has been missing from this dataset is zooplankton (the herbivores which consume algae and are the primary food source for smelt).  The funding I have received from the Tongariro Memorial Award will be used exclusively for funding analysis of historical (preserved) zooplankton samples.  This project will be carried out in collaboration with the Advocates for the Tongariro River and the Department of Conservation.

Pihanga - Rotopounamu Project Update


This year is following on from one of the most effective aerial 1080 pest control operations ever undertaken in TNP & Rotopounamu.  The control undertaken in Aug 2015 resulted in a very low rat population for 8 months.  We also had the lowest catch rates of stoats and weasels we’ve ever had! (see table below). 

Our observations suggest the birds had a spectacular breeding season!  One young kaka was recently spotted at Kuratau lake edge (starting off on its big OE!)  

The next planned aerial 1080 operation is now two years away and we’re expecting a ‘bumper season’ of pests (the little buggers). This means upping our game - checking the traps monthly from August to May,  and fortnightly in November to January,  to protect our lovely birds!  We’re also putting in another trap line on the farm boundary - which will target the extra evil ferrets and feral cats.  If you’re keen to help us out with trap checking and putting in a new trap line,  please contact me on 386 7581 or 021 21 22 777 or email  Any excuse to spend time in this special forest is a bonus for your soul.

We’re still considering translocating weka - but we’ve got a bit more work to do on the planning.  If approved we would hope to release weka following the next 1080 operation in 2018.


Te Matapuna Wetland Project Update

To all those who helped plant at our new Waiotaka site before the AGM last year, we can report that our 3000 plants are doing exceptionally well,  with about a 95% success rate.  There are numerous self-seeded cabbage trees throughout the site which is very encouraging too!  In late June another 420 plants were added to the Waiotaka sites on both sides of the Highway near the river bridge.


Our late March planting at the Stump Bay site (1100 plants) is looking pretty good considering the sandy nature of the site.  We had help from the Tongariro High School three weeks ago, when the students planted 300 coprosmas to infill the gaps.  Another big thankyou to Ian and Frances Jenkins for the extra few hundred plants they donated for this planting site.  And also to Turangi Marine for their planting help and BBQ lunch.

A lot of our planting work hinges on help from our Corrections Officer Warrick Simmonds.  He ensures our planting areas get special attention, anyone who has driven past Waiotaka on SH1 north of Turangi will see all the tree stakes, giving the site a ‘sculpture park look’.   Warrick is awesome and always goes the extra mile with any work he does for Project Tongariro, we are very lucky to have him on our “team”.  His great preparation at the Wamarino site is very obvious to anyone who drives past.  Another 370 plants were added to this site in early June, hopefully we will have a better take this time as the site has proved difficult in the past.

Anton from the Sthil Shop in Turangi also deserves a mention for his generosity in donating a back pack spray unit that has had plenty of work at Waiotaka – thanks Anton!

Thanks so much to you all who come and help plant/release or whatever other task we ask of you,.   Oh that reminds me, is anyone interested in being part of a monthly releasing team?  Robyn has her Wednesday Weeders for Greening Taupo and I’d like to get a similar group at “our” end of the Lake to keep on top of the weeds.  I’m trying to secure a local café for a little food sponsorship for the workers!  We would only work for a couple of hours in the morning then head to the café for nourishment!  Please call me and say you’re keen to join  - 386 7581, 021 21 22 777 or email

Avian Aversion

Course to be hosted by Project Tongariro in November 2016 - the donations collected through course participants will be going towards the Mt Pihanga- Lake Rotopounamu Project

Kiwi and dogs don’t mix

The Department of Conservation, in partnership with Kiwis for kiwi, has developed an avian aversion training programme for dogs and their owners. Kiwi aversion training helps reduce the number of kiwi killed or disturbed by dogs by teaching them that kiwi are something they should stay away from.  Demand for avian aversion training is growing as more people hear about it.  In some areas (such as the Tongariro District) landowners and DOC will only provide access and hunting permits to people whose dogs have been avian aversion certified.  As part of the training, dogs are walked past a few different props; things such as a stuffed kiwi or kiwi nesting material. If the dog shows an interest in these objects, it gets a small but surprising electric shock from the trainer, via a special collar. From this the dog learns that these objects are something to stay away from. The dog is then walked past similar props and, if it avoids them, is certified as having shown consistent avoidance behaviour. Refreshers are held, usually after 12 months or less, to make sure the dog remembers what it has learned.  Dogs are micro-chipped so that they can be identified as having received the training. 


Left: In June 2016 we held the DOC kiwi aversion training day in conjunction with Dream Makers Trust Bio Brats (DOC offers avian aversion training for free but people can make donations to local community groups). They made this great sign. Right: I’m not going near that thing again! A dog responds well to the training (Note: this is a stuffed kiwi). Images both courtesy of Dream Makers Trust Bio Brats.

Tongariro Forest Kiwi and Whio

Tongariro Forest Kiwi Sanctuary lies within the Tongariro Forest Conservation Area, in the central North Island. The forest is about 20,000-hectares, and is home to a large population of kiwi (New Zealand’s national bird).

Tongariro Forest is bordered by three main rivers (Whakapapa, Whanganui and Mangatepopo), all of which hold high numbers of whio (blue duck); New Zealand’s only ‘white water duck’. Tongariro Forest is one of eight security sites for whio, and has the highest numbers of pairs protected and the highest density of birds in the country. 


Threats to kiwi and whio survival

Stoats are the main killers of kiwi chicks, while ferrets and dogs are a significant threat to adult kiwi. Predation by stoats is the number one threat to whio. Other threats include rats, cats, dogs and ferrets.

To help protect kiwi, Tongariro Forest also uses large scale pest control such as aerial 1080, which targets rats, and stoats via secondary poisoning. This successfully doubles kiwi chick survival in the breeding seasons following the pest control.

Tongariro Forest whio are protected by predator trapping along the rivers, as well as the aerial 1080 operations.


In 2003, Tongariro Forest was made a ‘controlled dog area’, which means that only hunting dogs are allowed into the forest, and only if they have been through avian aversion training.  

A sample of kiwi chicks and juvenile whio are micro-chipped each year as a permanent way of marking them. 

Document sources:

First thing this week, Carol - the Turangi bird rescue lady visited us here in the DOC office on her way up to Taupo with a baby kereru!

Unfortunately 'Waimarie' [meaning lucky] was attacked in her home (up at Rotopounamu) by a predator (rat).  She was found on the Rotopounamu track, and was luckily handed into Carol, who has been caring for Waimarie since Saturday.  During her visit, Carol showed us how calm Waimarie is and she reckons the 4 week old chick has already imprinted on her! 

Carol's plans are to care for Waimarie until she is able to first 'soft release' her into the specially built aviary at the Trout Center, then set her free, with the hope that Waimarie will stay and live around the Trout Center.

If you'd like to help the baby kereru Waimarie and Carol, please drop me a line and I can put you in touch!

Keep up with Waimarie and Carol on our FB page - www.

Interesting facts on the Kereru:

  • The Kereru is a native of New Zealand and our only endemic pigeon.

  •  It also goes by the names of Native Woodpigeon, Kukupa, or Kuku and the scientific name is Hemiphaga novaeseelandia.

  •  With the extinction of the Moa and the Huia the Kereru are now the only bird capable of ingesting the large fruit and berries of New Zealand’s native trees and dispersing their seeds.

  • The young stay with their parents for up to two years, this is so the parents can teach them skills to cope in the wild, including which trees in the area to go to when food is scarce.

  • Kereru are frequently found in the Kowhai trees, as this is one of their favourite foods.

PO Box 238




p: +64 7 386 6499

Posted: Wed 17 Aug 2016

Roel Michels