Tongariro Times February 2017

Tongariro Times February 2017


Tongariro Times February 2017

Paul's Presidential Musings

It was very sad to learn of Bob Stothart's passing away. Bob had been part of us for 34 years and contributed in so many ways. Always supportive and encouraging to others and willing to put his hand up for any roles. Bob was very actively involved right up to his death. His contribution included two terms as President and he will be well remembered for the wise and sensitive mentoring he provided to many of us. An obituary will be included in the 2017 Tongariro Journal. A number of us attended his service in Wellington. Our sympathy to Margaret and family. Margaret and Bob were always a great team. 

There has been a great deal of discussion and speculation recently as to the need to upgrade infrastructure as a result of the acceleration of tourist numbers. This discussion is needed as District Councils and DOC struggle to fund the services required to support tourism.

The easiest way would be for the Government to apportion the increased tourism GST to the various organisations. However it seems the solution will be a mix of measures including a tourism tax, increased visitor charges and perhaps a departure tax. 

I urge people to watch what evolves and ensure the solution includes finance needed to both upgrade facilities in our Parks and special places in addition to our towns and cities. Secondly it should contribute to the protection of these places! I am concerned that DOC will receive a small portion of the “cake” and secondly that there will be little consideration given to environmental, cultural and social impact. A suggestion to privatise Great Walks or any other areas must be resisted. 

Regards Paul

Tongariro Journal

The Tongariro Journal is put together by PT, with a (greatfully received!) grant from DOC and gathers together local, domestic and international conservation items of interest.

It’s a great record of what’s currently happening. 

 You can find it online here or you can purchase your very own copy. Cost $20 (including postage) 2015 Journal $10 (including postage) 

Contact to order your hard copy.

The Tussock Traverse

As with every year, I tentatively put a notice for volunteer marshals to come and join us for a weekend of spectacular natural scenery, amazing athletes and summery weather; once again, this weekend didn’t disappoint!

I say tentatively as this weekend has become very popular with our members and supporters! We have many wonderful long-time volunteers who return year after year to marshal at “their” spots. I now only have 5 spots available (there's a total of 13 marshal spots)! If you get to marshal for us, you get a sweet deal - accommodation (ski lodge, bunk room stylz) for the Friday and Saturday nights, a very decent yummy packed lunch for race day (Saturday) and of course the celebratory after-race dinner. It has become very popular for people to work in other activities within the National Park region, if you’re coming from afar. It makes it a very affordable and enjoyable weekend!

Our thanks and gratitude to Jason, Luke and the Victory Event team who put together another awesome event - not to mention the Lakeman Brewery sponsorship and the flavoursome thar sausages all the way from the south island! 

And of course, my wonderful team of volunteers - some, who return each year and know their jobs inside out. Because of this, I was able to complete the 13km run (err run/walk) and I enjoyed myself so much, despite the beating hot sun and beasty hills. Thank you Leigh who refilled my water - I wouldn't have made it to the finish without it! 

2016 - 17 Biodiversity Interns

Our Biodiversity Internship programme is very kindly supported by the Craters of the Moon Trust, which allows New Zealand students to come and join the PT team for about 3 months. We provide accommodation, transportation, a living stipend and a fantastic opportunity to get a ‘real hands’ on conservation experience in the Central Plateau.

This year we were joined by Sonny and Leigh, who’ve just finished their Ecology degrees at Palmerston North’s Massey University. During their stay with us they were supported by Nick Singers, Shirley Potter and myself.  Their main piece of work this year was wetland bird monitoring at the Waimarino Lagoon. This study will give us an excellent indication of how our wetland restoration project (Te Matapuna Wetlands) is progressing.

Nick and Shirley has been keeping them very busy with work in and around the wetland and Nick has also treated them to other special areas such as the head waters of the Waimarino River, while hunting for whio as part of another restoration project Nick has initiated.

Leigh, Sonny & Nick

Leigh, Sonny & Nick

Leigh and Sonny about to release some whio back onto the Waimarino River

Leigh and Sonny about to release some whio back onto the Waimarino River

Leigh, Sonny & Shirley

Leigh, Sonny & Shirley



Lake Rotopounamu Forest Restoration Project

Trap checking continues to tick along nicely at Rotopounamu.  Rodent numbers are still declining after the last aerial control program (as expected!) at the end of November, and the bird life and vivacity of the local residents is certainly noticeable!

We have another monitoring week (we need 2 fine days and nights to proceed) coming up in March, so if you’ve participated in tracking tunnel monitoring before, and you’re available let me know!  At this stage we’re looking at the middle week of March.


Under the Himalayan Sky


I have just finished reading a marvellous memoir by Margaret Jefferies [a former Project Tongariro President] of the time spent in Nepal with her husband Bruce and young family from 1977-1979 when Bruce was tasked with establishing the Sagarmatha National Park. 

Margaret provides a fascinating portrait of this region of Nepal in the early days before large scale tourism and trekking opened it up to the outside world. The book details life of their family with three young children living at high altitude, largely cut off from the outside world, without electricity or running water and largely existing on local supplies. Margaret is a very good writer and it is a great read of one of the more challenging experiences from two of our members. 

 I strongly recommend it. Copies can be ordered on Margaret’ website at $45 including postage

Kiwi Chicks in need of some good ole sewing skills

Just before Xmas, Renee joined us in the Turangi office for a day of work, and as her and I caught up over a cuppa, she mentioned that she was in dire need of some cloth kiwi bags, and wondered if there was a suitable PT volunteer. My friend and PT supporter Chantal sprung to mind! Since then, Renee asked to contribute to our newsletter - 

"On behalf of the Tongariro Kiwi Team and Wairakei Golf + Sanctuary Kiwi Crèche, we would like to thank Chantal Behr (Proj Tong volunteer) for employing her sewing skills over Christmas to make us ten new kiwi chick bags! We weigh young kiwi in bags as shown in the photograph. The new bags are currently in use at Wairakei where we have a number of our juvenile kiwi living behind the predator proof fence this season. There are 16 kiwi currently at Wairakei and they are growing really well. They are to stay there until they reach 1200g when they are large enough to be able to fight off a stoat. They will then be released back to their forests of origin. 

Volunteers from Project Tongariro and before that, Tongariro Natural History Society have been supportive in assisting us with kiwi work in our area in various different ways since the early days. Whether it be driving kiwi eggs and chicks back and forth to Rainbow Springs, assisting with Tracking tunnels in the kiwi sanctuary, moral support for Rangers during some tough times, or a bit of handy sewing, we are really appreciative of the assistance. 

Many thanks, Renee Potae – Ranger – Biodiversity DOC / Wairakei Golf + Sanctuary” 


Pictured above: Ali Beath completing a kiw health check at the Wairakei Golf & Sanctuary, using one of Chantal’s newly made bags.

Kiwi Drivers Wanted

Are you interested in helping out Kiwi rangers?  Project Tongariro is the ‘go to’ group for volunteer drivers transporting eggs to and from local forests up to Rainbow Springs in Rotorua, and then bringing them back to the area.  When we get ‘the call’, I email a notification out to the Kiwi drivers list, and if you can help, “it’s first in, first serve”.  If you’d like to know more, Project Tongariro will be holding a morning tea on Tuesday 21st March for those who’ve been helping, and those who’d like to find out more.  Please RSVP to Kiri here

Mangawhero Trap Lines

After our unexpectedly exciting visit to Ohakune on the weekend of our AGM last October, (we got caught up in a protest) some of our members checked out a trap line that runs alongside the Mangawhero River.  DOC has previously run this line, is now stretched for resources, but desperately wants to continue the protection for whio along this river. 

After some meetings and the Christmas holidays, we’re ready to kick-start this project - and we’re happy to announce, in partnership with DOC and the Ngati Rangi Trust Board.


So, can you help??  We're after some reliable Ohakune-based volunteers to check 2 loops of tracks, once a month, year round.  We're proposing a on-line roster system, where you can login and see what months are available and you can schedule yourself in.  Alternatively, you can ring Mekayla at Ngati Rangi Trust and ask her to do this for you.  If you are still keen but not from Ohakune - never fear!!  You can still participate, and thanks to DOC we can offer free accommodation at the Capri Lodge (with plenty of notice!).

The upper part of the trapping line will take approximately 3 hours, where the lower line will take approximately 1 hour.  If you are keen - a lovely DOC ranger will accompany you on your first time, to train you up and take you through the procedures.

Please email me if you’d like to help out along this beautiful stretch of TNP.

Professional Volunteer Skills needed!

Are you wondering how you can still help out Project Tongariro - but may not have the time for tree planting / trap checking etc?

We have minor projects coming up where we’re in need of some skills such as design, digital media and social media we’d like some help with!

Drop me an email if you’d like to find out more.

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Posted: Fri 17 Feb 2017

Roel Michels