Call (+64) 3 304 7654, or Email marie@theseventhgeneration.org

Marie Haley Conservationist – Latitude Magazine – Life on the Wildside, Akaroa

Akaroa Conservationist Marie Haley from The Seventh Generation Tours is featured in this months Latitude Magazine for her role in establishing the Wildside Project and new boutique business venture guiding travellers to a deeper understanding of Akaroa History and Nature. #Akaroa #Wildside #BPCT #TheSevnethGenerationTours

Banks Peninsula Locals Sustainability Story

Watch this video to understand why Banks Peninsula is such a remarkable place!

Local student Marco Varray, 12, has created this winning documentary film in the National Outlook for Someday competition. The film features local characters who tell their story of sustainability, it also captures the unique outlook of this rural community who are passionate about living a sustainable and enjoyable life.

Sea Bird Survey 2017

The Banks Peninsula Sea Bird Survey 2017 got off to a spectacular start yesterday with perfect sea and weather conditions.

Marie Haley and a team from the Department of Conservation and Christchurch City Council surveyed the whole Wildside coastline from Le Bons Bay to Akaroa for the beautiful spotted shag, white fronted tern, red-bill gull and more.

Marie even landed on a predator free island to check out the fairy prion and little blue penguin colonies. The fairy prion are unable to nest where there are any mammalian predators such as rats or stoats as they are so small and delicate, but on these valuable islands they nest alongside other sea birds. In pictures shown here the different species are neighbours amongst the rocky rubble.

Banks Peninsula is a sea bird hotspot with 70% of the worlds population of spotted shags found along our coast and the white-flippered little blue penguins are endemic to our shores. With intensive predator control and predator fencing we hope to ensure that burrowing sea birds such as petrel and prions can again make mainland Banks Peninsula their home.

The coast of Banks Peninsula is spectacular in any weather but especially so on a fine day, we have had plenty of rain this winter and so all the waterfalls were flowing down to the sea. Dan Rogers and Nikau Palm waterfalls were especially spectacular.

  

Photos (left to right): spotted shag in breeding plumage, Nikau Palm Gully waterfall (the southern most palm tree in the world), Dan Rogers cliffs hanging gardens and rare waterfall, fairy prion on Crown Island, white-flippered little blue penguin nesting next to the prion. Credits: Marie Haley.

The Wildside Story

The Wildside is an area on the outer edge of Banks Peninsula recognised for its high biodiversity value and a community of landowners who have become conservation leaders for their protection of endangered species some of whom are found nowhere else in the world. Recognised in 2017 with a national Green Ribbon Award from the Ministry for the Environment(MfE) and Department of Conservation (DOC) for Conservation Leadership.

 The Wildside started off more than 25 years ago when a farmer Mark Armstrong, who grew up with little blue penguins all over his farm, was showing a visitor a penguin nest under his woolshed. He lifted the floor board to find a ferret in the nest eating the two chicks. Local farmers had wondered why penguin numbers were dropping but this was the first definitive proof that something was really wrong and action needed to be taken! Landowners approached DOC and were able to borrow half a dozen traps. Soon it was found that predators had to be stopped well before they reached the penguin colonies and so trap lines were established by the landowners up the valleys and ten years later DOC established extensive trap lines.

 Now over 700 predator traps cover 7000ha of Banks Peninsula in a coordinated program managed by the Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust in a long established partnership with DOC, Christchurch City Council (CCC), Environment Canterbury (ECan) and landowners. Initially the Wildside was a reaction to the issue of predation of the little blue white flippered penguins (endemic to Banks Peninsula) but at the same time Hinewai Reserve was being established by the Maurice White Native Forest Trust and visionary botanist Hugh Wilson. Around the same time the community of traditional farmers were struggling with the 1980’s financial downturn and started to look to diversify their income and the Banks Peninsula Track was formed. This bought about a change from traditional farming to regenerative farming where beautiful scenery, biodiversity and healthy forest was valued for economic reasons.

 In 2001 the Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust was formed as the only community group in New Zealand who has the legal statute to covenant private land. Suddenly landowners were empowered to manage their own conservation projects and a new era on Banks Peninsula began. BPCT Trustees as landowners were able to talk over the fence to neighbours and promote habitat protection. Hinewai Reserve was an example of how to turn unprofitable and unmanageable gorse infested land into valued forest.

 In 2010, the Wildside coordinator was employed to bring together into one cohesive project all of the many diverse conservation efforts. Born and raised within the Wildside Marie Haley has a grounded understanding of the people and place and worked within the community to set outcomes in a visioning process.

 The Wildside outcomes have four broad themes, people, economy, habitat and species. To engage people in the project, both landowners and the future generations through education. To add economic value to the land, by protection of its environmental health and beauty and to promote a unique story. To protect forest habitat, stream health, sites of ecological significance and promote marine protection. To protect the species that we love and by their presence make this place special; yellow-eyed penguin, little blue white-flippered penguins, titi, Akaroa daisy, Banks Peninsula tree weta, jewelled gecko, morepork, falcon and many more. This process showed people what we had to protect and what we had to lose.

The aim of the Wildside has moved on from the initial protection of pelagic sea birds to become a whole landscape restoration project within a living working environment. That means we love and protect our land while we still continue to thrive here ourselves. Collaborative predator control has seen a dramatic turn-around in the sea bird species. Twenty-five percent of the Wildside is protected through covenants or reserves. But something else is happening on the Wildside, we have the first whole stream protected from summit to sea through farmland in New Zealand. The landowners who created this have quietly inspired landowners all around them and BPCT is in the process of covenanting a second whole stream, the upper catchment being already protected completely by Hinewai Reserve. Many other landowners are protecting the streams in their property.

 

Yellow-eyed Penguins Endangered

 

Across the mainland hōiho or yellow-eyed penguins (YEP) are having a tough time of it. This year the number of breeding pairs on Otago Peninsula was only about 200 compared to 600 in the 1990’s. Otago University researcher Thomas Mattern reports the outlook for populations around the South Island is bleak “the situation is all but lost, but we need to act and we don’t have much time’.

With an estimated breeding population of 1700 pair, the YEP is one of the rarest species of penguins in the world, around 60% of the population is thought to breed on New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic islands with the rest on the south-eastern coast of the South Island. However, little is known about the sub-Antarctic population and in the southern South Island mass mortality events from unknown toxins and barracouta attacks regularly decimate numbers.

Thirty-five years of sea surface data from Boulder Beach on Otago Peninsula shows that sea temperature is the main environmental influence, with lower fish stock during warmer periods. However, other factors play a significant role, the impact of fisheries is poorly understood due to a lack of data and fisheries monitoring. Predation both at sea and on land remains an issue in some areas and unregulated tourism is an important and growing threat. While humans love to see hōiho walk across a wild beach, hōiho do not feel the same at all about humans and become incredibly stressed by the mere presence of a human. 

Yellow-eyed penguins have just been upgraded to Endangered and researchers agree that South Island hōiho are facing almost certain extinction by 2060.

Thankfully on Banks Peninsula, our small hōiho population is remaining steady. We have a strong collaborative conservation program on the Wildside to control predators on land. Banks Peninsula is blessed with many sheltered bays and penguins are doing especially well in bays with restricted human access. Landowners protect the penguin colonies fiercely against these impacts and each nest is monitored closely by BPCT, DOC and CCC staff. If a penguin is in trouble, we take it into expert veterinary care as soon as possible and penguins are able to recuperate with dedicated intensive care nurses. All of this, just to ensure the population holds steady.

2017 was a year of highlights for the Banks Peninsula hōiho team. We had our first microchipped chicks return, in a species where >80% of chicks do not make it through their first year at sea, this is monumental. Eight juvenile birds, in their first year, were recorded and we hope some of these will remain and breed. A total of 25 birds were found with four nests and six chicks fledging. Only three penguins died during the breeding season.

These small successes always lead to hope that hōiho nests will increase, that more chicks will be born and fledge and that they will return again next year. But yellow-eyed penguins have just been upgraded to Endangered and researchers agree that South Island hōiho are facing almost certain extinction by 2060.