update from our CEO Ana Christmas– Spring 2023 –

Ana Christmas

Tēnā koutou katoa – Warmest greetings to you all.

It’s a great privilege to be two months into this role and working alongside such a fabulous team here at The Forest Bridge Trust. I was warmed by the welcome from the Trust at the official mihi whakatau held in Warkworth. Led by Matua Michael Winiana and representatives of the Te Whānau o Mahurangi Kapa Haka from Mahurangi College with Delma O’Kane of Ngāti Manuhiri as the kaiārahi. My family, friends and colleagues from Kindred Family Services were supported by Kaumatua Gary Brown and kaiārahi for our group Rewana Walker. It was a uniquely special moment, where my family got to meet this team and hear the vision/kaupapa that would draw on my heart and mind in the coming years. From that day onwards, my focus has been primarily on building relationships (internal & external), understanding the roles within the team and connecting with some key stakeholders, a job which has just begun, as we get to know each other over the coming months.

I am grateful to the landowners and other stakeholders that have enabled me to experience firsthand the challenges they are facing, not only with predators but with farming and land care after such an eventful year. As part of my induction, our fencing and planting team were able to example to me their skills and experience, advising me on my own slips on land in South Head and protection of the remnant bush on the border of a developing wetland. It was fantastic to be privy of the support and guidance available to our farming communities through the Kaipara Moana Remediation (KMR) projects.

Ana for NL - Nov 2023

With the energy of Spring, there has been a flurry of activity. Additional monitoring and protection have been boosted within the halos around Mataia & Tāwharanui as the kiwi populations begin to flourish and look for territories outside the safety of these protective environs. (Yes! We have seen them on the move!) Our connections with you all have meant we have been able to gain nearly 3k more hectares under predator control over the three months from July taking us to just over 35k hectare over the region. We’ve recorded 1309 unwelcome critters caught through October and our KMR field advisors have been working with landowners on 12 fencing and planting projects since July. Our collective efforts have a widening positive impact on our ecosystems. In the Ministry for the Environment’s report release last month on ‘Our atmosphere and climate 2023’ it was evident how important our work, as a country, is. The Forest Bridge Community’s collective efforts have not gone un-noticed. We were delighted to be showcased within their ‘Story Map’ as an impactful community effort to control predators, helping our native species to survive and thrive. Click here for the link. Thanks to you all who commit their land to predator control, volunteer on trap lines and work with our team towards this mission.

Not only are we starting to see the benefits of this effort for our kiwi population, but also, excitingly, within our long-term project to increase biodiversity across the motu (country). Many of our team attended a two-day training last week to become competent in the 5-minute bird count method to identify forest bird species, to monitor the abundance of forest birds over time. If this is something you are keen on exploring, check it out here.

You’ll see in this month’s newsletter, our current opportunities to reinvigorate your passion for trapping through our Spring Reboot event and our support, not only for Kiwi as Bird of the Century but also our Critically Threatened Wetland species, Matuku-hūrepo – the Australasian bittern. This galloping giant desperately needs support to protect both its wetland habitat but also from invasive weeds and predators. Check out our Bird of the Year/Century campaign through this link.

We’ve been, not only blessed with, a bumper batch of lambs this season, but also confirmation that our resident Bittern has returned. So, I’ll be increasing my trap check frequency around home, keeping my furry friends inside at night and voting for my favourite feathered friends this week. We look forward to hearing about your trapping successes and wildlife encounters over the coming months. Reach out to our team here if you need further supports.