Karioi Project Update from Kristel

The Karioi Project relies on a huge volunteer effort to restore biodiversity on 2,500 hectares on Karioi Maunga and surrounding private land. As a result of sustained, effective predator control in the past four years, we’ve enabled a remnant population of seabirds, Oi to breed successfully. This is a massive indication of the success of our multi-species predator control.

Currently we employ 16 part-time staff or 5.1 FTE. Our team consists of community and biodiversity rangers and education facilitators that are passionate about their contribution to the project. Thanks to the Government’s recent wage subsidy, all our team are cared for – although only some of the team has been able to work during Alert Levels 4 and 3.

With the country in lockdown, we realised that our traps would have to go unchecked. We have 100+ regular volunteers (and up to 300 casual) participating each year, contributing thousands of hours to the project. Volunteers have been itching to go back to their trap lines, which we can do when we drop from Alert Level 3 to 2.

Local families also contribute an incredible amount to the project. Hundreds of families have signed up to our “Backyard Trapping Hub”, aiming to create a Predator Free Raglan. During the lockdown, we were inundated with requests for traps – as people realised the pest problem in their backyard. The Backyard Hub inspires everyone to do their bit as a community, while also helping to restore vital ecosystems. Feel free to contact us if you need a trap or want us to provide a commercial pest control service on your property karioi.backyard@arocha.org.

The Karioi Project runs an NCEA-level “Education for Sustainability” program in Raglan Area School and popular after-school environmental programs, Karioi Kids and Karioi Rangers for students aged 7-12 years. All “in school” education programs will resume as school restarts and we will consider running our popular after school programs in the coming weeks.

While we were in lockdown, the first Oi came flying in for the breeding season. Locals living close to the coast reported hearing their piercing calls. Staff have checked and Oi have excavated their breeding burrows and they are already ripe with pungent seabird smells.

Oi, form strong pair bonds and may live for 30 years or longer, returning every year to the same place to breed and raise one chick. Parents share incubation duties equally, one of them remaining on the nest while the other ranges over the ocean and dives underwater for krill, squid and fish and returns to the burrow to feed its hungry chick. Chicks fledge in December and need the protection of our traps to ensure their survival.

As we rebuild our community after the COVID-19 crisis, there is an opportunity to create a greener, more resilient and sustainable economy, that restores and sustains both people and the ecosystems we rely on for a healthy and thriving community. We invite you to join us – as we work together to restore this beautiful landscape we all love !

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