Mangatu Wilderness ProjectA Labour of Love for Carol & Colin Beddow

Colin and Carol Beddow have a passion for kiwi and conservation. After meeting The Forest Bridge Trust Founders Gill and Kevin Adshead and volunteering at Mataia, they decided to embark on a unique journey of their own. Purchasing a 600-acre cut-over pine plantation in the Kaipara Hills, Colin and Carol had a vision to regenerate their block back into a native forest, providing a haven for kiwi and other indigenous flora and fauna.

They named their family project Mangatu Wilderness Project, and a labour of love was born.

The family’s dedication commenced with an ambitious trapping program in 2019. Overcoming weather and time challenges, they expanded their efforts to include broader goals such as waterway protection, planting, and fencing. Through their unwavering commitment, the Beddow family has made impressive headway with their restoration project.

The Forest Bridge Trust is grateful for the opportunity to assist Colin and Carol with traplines, as well as planting and fencing advice. We’re excited to be supporting this dynamic family, with their future restoration goals, and were delighted that they found the time to tell us more about Mangatu Wilderness Project.

Mangatu Wilderness Project

What makes Mangatu special? What motivated you to invest your time, energy, money, and aroha (love and care) into this piece of land?

It was the lovely Mangatu stream that runs through our place that we first fell in love with. We could see the big picture of planting and regenerating native trees growing back where once it was a cut-over pine plantation. To be honest, it was/is a lot of work and a lot harder than we thought, but we always keep the big picture in mind. We know that the land will regenerate with a little bit of help from us and all our supporters, into a beautiful native block.

What is your vision for Mangatu Wilderness Reserve?

Our vision has always been to plant and let Mangatu regenerate back to native bush and ultimately have kiwi living there as well as other native flora and fauna.

How much land restoration have you completed so far, and how many plants have you planted?

We have restored ¼ of the property. We have some big plans coming up in the near future. We have only planted a small amount in the scale of things. In total about 15,000 plants.

You have a beautiful river running through your property; what have you been able to do to enhance your wetland areas?

The river is very important to us. The Mangatu Stream flows through our property; it is a beautiful rock bottom flowing stream with all sorts of native aquatic animals in it. It is the heart and soul of Mangatu, and we take pride in looking after it. We test the river and frequently go out at night spotlighting to see what’s in there. We have planted around some of the river with the help from Kaipara Moana Remediation (KMR). The Forest Bridge Trust works in partnership with KMR to support landowners to reduce sediment through projects to restore wetlands, fence off rivers and streams, plant trees and regenerate forest on erosion-prone land. KMR funds up to half of estimated project costs.

How were you affected by last year’s floods and Cyclone Gabrielle?

Mangatu was devastated by the floods and cyclones; we had hundreds of slips and lost a lot of our planting. The river has a rock bottom, and a lot of it is covered in silt now with not much life living in there. A lot of our tracks and roading had collapsed, making it difficult and/or inaccessible to get around. We were devastated at the destruction.

What other hurdles or challenges have you encountered on the property?

Another challenge we face is weed management; we have a huge problem with pampas (neighbours’ stock and fencing, after the cyclone). Time is a big one; there is never enough time to do what you want or need. And trying to get funding is right up there too.

What have been the best wins?

Our best wins are all our planting days; it is always a great day with amazing volunteers, a fantastic way to catch up and get a lot of planting done, and there is a lot of chatting and laughing. It’s fantastic to have such great support.

Kiwi have been monitored close to your property; have you seen/heard evidence of any kiwi at Mangatu?

We haven’t heard or seen kiwi signs on Mangatu – YET, but they are coming, and we look forward to this. Colin and I are qualified Kiwi handlers; we volunteer with Kaipara Kiwi. Kiwi are our passion.

How long have you been trapping at Mangatu? What traps do you have on the property, and what have you been catching?

We have been trapping at Mangatu for 4 years now. Over the years, we have increased the number of traps thanks to TFBT. We have 4 traplines up and running. Over the last couple of years, our catches have been around 600-700 predators a year, mostly possums and rats. We have 4 x AT220 automatic possum traps, flipping Timmy’s, DOC 200 & 250, SA, and we have a lot of live capture traps with 10 of them being monitored by a Celium network, which means we can put these traps further away and not have to check them unless they have been triggered, then a text is sent to our phone. We catch mainly possums then rats, stoats and weasels, and feral cats, and we have caught 2 ferrets in the past.

Do you have a preferred lure/bait?

We like to use a mixture of baits, changing it up to keep it interesting for the pests. We use eggs, peanut butter, sausage, and rabbit, and we have had success with fish. In our flipping Timmys, we use whatever fruit is in season and growing in the orchard or free.

How has the Trust Bridge Trust been able to help you achieve your vision for Mangatu?

TFBT has been very supportive in helping with our traplines and supplying traps, setting up our TrapNZ app . All of which help control pests and head towards our goal. The staff has always been supportive of any inquiries we have had; they are friendly and very approachable. During the cyclone, we had phone calls to see if we were okay; this was much appreciated by the Mangatu wilderness project.

You document your journey on Facebook and provide a great account of the highs and lows of your project; what advice would you give someone wanting to regenerate their property?

Our Facebook page “Mangatu Wilderness Project” is a great way for us to connect and keep all our followers up to date on what is happening at Mangatu, our pest control, and planting and anything we think might be interesting. The advice we would give to anyone wanting to regenerate their property would be “DO IT – it won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.” Be patient and always keep the end result in mind. Doing lots of small bits/planting at a time will end up being a big bit of planting.

Follow Colin & Carol Beddow on Facebook