Evening with Ruud Kleinpaste – 28th Feb 2023

The Forest Bridge Trust hosted an evening with conservationist Ruud Kleinpaste at Mahurangi College on Tuesday evening (28 February).

Tris Bondsfield the Trust’s community liaison lead had been working for many months to bring Ruud to the rohe, knowing that his talk on “Nature Literate Kiwis” would resonate with the local community and their growing interest in conservation. Ruud did not disappoint.

From 6 pm 221 people started to gather at Mahurangi college and enjoyed an hour of light refreshments and a catch-up with The Forest Bridge Trust’s community liaison team, Charlie our TrapNZ data specialist and Elena our volunteer coordinator before moving into the auditorium and waiting for Ruud to take to the stage.

After a warm welcome from Tris, Ruud launched into his presentation and had the audience, laughing, engaged, and learning from the very first slide. Ruud spoke for over an hour, taking his audience on a journey that showcased his passion for conservation, language, nature, Aotearoa and of course bugs. Ruud referenced his heroes Sir Peter Blake and Don Binney and challenged the audience to move away from the word conservation and embrace instead the word restoration.

Ruud asked everyone to consider the vital role that insects play in the ecosystem, entertaining the audience with anecdotes and comical slides of clusters flies, gardening ants and spiney weta. All the time reminding us that although they may be at the bottom of the ecological system insects feed everything above it and if we lose them we compromise the whole structure.

Ruud believes that the answers to many of the challenges currently facing the planet can be found in nature. He feels passionately about an education system that includes an outdoor curriculum where children can learn and grow through a connection with nature.

Understanding that nature only uses the energy it needs, that everything is recycled (zero waste), that it depends on ecological cooperation and diversity and uses local expertise are just some of the fundamentals that human beings could learn from.

“If we are serious about improving the health of our environment we need to learn how to live on this planet”.

Ruud later turned his attention to kiwi. As a trustee of Save the Kiwi, Ruud was firm in his reminder to dog owners to keep their pets on leads in areas where kiwis reside. This was a timely reminder to the community who are soon to have more kiwi come to the rohe with the relocation of birds to maunga Tamahunga. Ruud has been a champion of the kiwi since the 1970s and has been involved with several research projects over the past 40 years. Recognising The Forest Bridge Trust’s founders Gill and Kevin Adshead, Ruud encouraged everyone to get involved with predator control to ensure that we can all enjoy a thriving population of kiwi in the rohe.

Although there was much laughter throughout the evening Ruud left the audience with a serious key message that we all must get on board with becoming “Nature Literate Kiwis”. That we need to embrace biomimicry and start to learn from nature if we are to guarantee our planet’s future.

The Forest Bridge Trust would like to thank everyone who came along for Ruud’s talk and thank you for your generous donations. $1283 was raised on the night. All proceeds on will be donated to supporting kiwi on maunga Tamahunga.

Thank you also to Restore Rodney East, Warkworth Forest & Bird and Mahurangi College for your support in hosting this evening for the local community.