Whakatane groups unite to help kiwi

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Whakatane, Eastern Bay of Plenty – it’s the Kiwi Capital of the World! According to the town’s official website, kiwi (the feathered sort), can be heard calling from the town’s CBD and residents living near reserves occasionally have kiwi venturing into their gardens. Nowhere else in urban New Zealand does our national bird live in such close proximity to humans.

Whakatane West Rotary donated a saw to the local Menz Shed.
Whakatane West Rotary donated a saw to the local MenzShed. Image credit: Supplied

They’re proud of their kiwi in Whakatane. All across town there are youth groups, social clubs, businesses and service organisations working together to help kiwi and protect the region’s biodiversity generally.

Take, for example, the Whakatane West Rotary Club. They don’t maintain any traplines or bait stations of their own, but they’re making a big contribution to predator control in the region. For the past year or so, members of the Whakatane West Rotary Club have been building DOC 200 and DOC 250 predator traps. Club Secretary, Len Eilbeck reckons they’ve made close to 400 complete traps or trap boxes to date.

“The traps are sold to local and regional councils, land owners and others. As well as building traps and marketing their sale, we are promoting sponsorship of traps (owned by Whakatane Kiwi Trust) already placed in bush around Whakatane.”

Realising they could do with some help in the process, the Rotary members approached their local MenzShed organisation who now cut and prepare flat packs of traps for Rotary members to assemble. Halo Whakatane – an umbrella group for cooperative conservation in the region – helped bring the two groups together.

Whakatane West Rotary members have completed about 400 traps and trap boxes to date.
Whakatane West Rotary members have completed about 400 traps and trap boxes to date.

“Whakatane MenzShed is about 20 strong with probably 5 or 6 involved in the timber cutting for us,” says Len. “We recently donated a saw to them in order to help their operation.”

Local businesses have got behind the project too. Placemakers gave Whakatane West Rotary a good price on the MenzShed saw and ITM supply timber for the trap box project at a heavily reduced rate.

“Our Rotary club has 30 members and about a third of them build trap boxes at home when we need to build up our stock level,” Len says. “We have had working bees too, including a recent get together and BBQ at the MenzShed, when the saw was presented to them.”

Gross sales in the year to June 30th were an impressive $15K.

“After costs, the remainder goes principally to a conservation fund operated by the Whakatane West Rotary Trust. Conservation groups will be able to apply for financial assistance by making an application to the club.”

Other organisations and groups across Whakatane are also involved.

“Local tour operator, Awakeri Rail, rents refurbished traps from us and they are maintained and baited by the Awakeri Scout Group,” says Len. “We’re also keen to promote commercial sponsorship of trap placements (operated by Whakatane Kiwi Trust). It gives the local business acknowledgement of their support of local conservation as well as increasing our Conservation Fund.”

Map of sponsored trap placements.
Map of sponsored trap placements. Image credit: Halo Whakatāne

Whakatane West Rotary is keen to encourage the younger generation to be involved in conservation.

“We have worked with Whakatane Intermediate School and the ‘Sci for Life’ kids, with trap building and placement around a lagoon for their environmental enhancement project,” Len says, “Also a Kiwi Tracker Education Walk that takes you to a Whare in the bush and the kids have worksheets along the way to complete.”

They’re definitely an enterprising and cooperative bunch in Whakatane – a great example of kiwis supporting kiwis…supporting kiwi!