The small Auckland community of Karaka Bay is only just getting started on their backyard trapping programme but they’re already noticing a difference in their community. It’s a difference in themselves.
“I’ve lived here 15 years,” says trapping coordinator Mary Pearson, “And this is our first community project since I’ve been here. Since it started neighbours are sharing things more, working more closely together. There’s a windy, hairpin path past the other houses up to the road and now everyone waves and smiles. That’s been really good!”
Karaka Bay was one of the smallest communities to enter the first funding round of Kiwibank PF Communities.
“There are only 10 households in Karaka Bay,” explains Mary. “They’re at the bottom of a cliff in bush going down to the beach. There’s no road access even though we’re only 15 minutes from Auckland CBD. Having to make a video for our entry was good, because it got everyone in the community involved – all ages took part.”
Community members turned out to have some surprising video skills.
“The son of a neighbour was an expert and had his own drone,” says Mary. “He used it to get aerial shots along the Bay. You don’t know what skills people have got!”
Karaka Bay may be a small community, but their patch is perfect for a backyard trapping programme.
“Karaka Bay is an ideal, discrete area for trapping,” says Mary. “It has two headland boundaries and an access road at the top of the cliff. It’s very defined and people who choose to live here are very in touch with the bush, sea and environment.”
Mary had also been seeing rats on her own property.
“A lot of people here are against bait. I had been doing baiting on my own section, but was conscious of the beach and people’s pets. I read an article on Goodnature traps and liked the sound of it so set one up on my section. I caught a rat two days later,” she says.
Possums are also a worry.
“We’ve got a lot of beautiful pohutakawa trees,” says Mary. “I didn’t want them to get destroyed by possums.”
Having had success in her own trapping, Kiwibank Predator Free Communities funding seemed a great way for Mary to get the rest of her neighbours involved.
“I emailed everyone in the Bay to ask what they thought about being predator free using Goodnature traps and no baiting,” says Mary. “Everyone was onboard and 9/10 households have bought a self-resetting trap subsidized with funding from Kiwibank. It made a real difference having the subsidised discount,” says Mary. “It made the traps affordable for people.”
Catch reports are starting to come in.
“I’ve asked everyone to let me know what they catch and hope to put it up on ‘CatchIT’,” Mary says. “I’ve caught six rats since Christmas and a neighbour has caught four possums in his backyard trap.”
Next up may be a community get-together.
“We don’t want momentum to fall, so we may have an evening together to plan the next stage,” Mary says, “There’s some funding left over that we might use for a leaflet drop. It would be good to get the kids involved in that.”
There are a number of other volunteer conservation groups, parks and reserves in the area, including ‘Friends of Churchill Park, just across the access road at the top of Karaka Bay. Mary is contacting them so that groups in the area can plan a coordinated approach to predator control.
“It’s my dream to get all the areas to connect,” says Mary, “to get a corridor involving all the houses down to the Tahuna Torea Nature Reserve. It’s a council bird reserve where the godwits come and it’s only about 1 km away. It’d be great to get some more rat traps between here and there…”