Riverlands Rambles is an occasional diary by Wade and Jan Doak that allows the reader a glimpse into another world. This e-book, available to download at a very modest price through Amazon, tells the stories of a special part of mainland New Zealand on the Tutukaka Coast of Northland, where introduced mammal predators have effectively been removed and we can glimpse what the past – and our possible future – looks like.
The story is not without its villains. While the Doaks and their neighbours have removed predators from their own extensive boundaries, incursions by invaders from the lesser-controlled conservation estate just across the road, are a constant threat. ‘The price of freedom is eternal vigilance’ so the saying goes, and members of the local Landcare Group maintain and regularly check a network of traps on the borders of their 300+ hectares. Usually the villains are young male possums seeking new territory and luxurious feasting in the thriving bushland.
In the absence of possums and rodents, seeds remain uneaten, germinate and thrive. Rare orchids, shrubs and trees that have vanished from most of mainland New Zealand, live on in the forested paradise as do a wide variety of birds, lizards and other wildlife which the Doaks encounter on their regular explorations. Where else in New Zealand, outside of a fenced sanctuary or off-shore island, could a tiny, one-legged quail survive and live long enough to become a recognisable and regularly-met character in the community?
What is particularly special is the deeply shared community bond between the Landcare Group neighbours. The forest, streams, mangroves and lake seem to be a neighbourhood without borders, where tracks weave through the shared landscape and daily rambles regularly cross into neighbouring properties. Tracks are regularly maintained and extended. Neighbours swap news on the latest plant or wildlife discovery or predator incursion averted.
For most of us, it’s an idyllic world we can only dream of, at least for the time-being. But it proves that a predator free mainland paradise is perfectly achievable with hard work and community cooperation. If you’d like to glimpse of what that paradise looks like, then download Riverland Rambles from Amazon and dive in.