If you ever dreamed of escaping from the hustle and bustle and congestion and pressures of the city to relax and retire closer to heaven, to listen and rejoice in the dawn chorus yodeling from pigeons, tuis, fantails, bellbirds, whiteheads, tomtits and robins, then Pukawa should be on the top of your list.
Around the shores of Lake Taupo there are numerous small residential settlements, each with their own fascinating history and reason for being. Pukawa is one of those special places yet it is hardly known outside of Turangi. Tourists travel all over NZ to visit and rave about how wonderful NZ used to be but now require hugely expensive fence enclosures around reserves and golf courses to keep pests out, but Pukawa has created an even better environment particularly due to one lady’s conservation efforts. About ten minutes drive to the west of Turangi, just off SH41 heading to Tuamaranui, is Pukawa which is surrounded by native bird life on walking trails and linked via a magic bush walk to Omori and Kuratau which are better known as holiday settlements.
Congratulations to Mrs Jean Stanley, of Turangi, awarded a QSM, for services to conservation at Pukawa.
Jean Stanley established the Pukawa Wildlife Management Trust at Pukawa Bay, on the Lake Taupo southern coast, famous for its dawn chorus birdsong. Her efforts, alongside other volunteers, have enabled the establishment of more than 15 bush tracks, which service around 400 traps and 180 poison bait stations. These traps have eliminated approximately 11,000 pests since 2002. Quite extraordinary. (Only Didymo Dave could match that!) She is the Secretary of the Pukawa Wildlife Management Trust and Chairperson and Manager of its Local Management Group.
PWMT – Pukawa Wildlife Management Trust
The award immediately triggered questions from curious tourist guests – where is Pukawa – we must visit it, etc. But first, to make their visit complete and to understand how these precious residential settlements near Turangi thrive, TRM introduce them to the Pukawa Wildlife Management Trust. This should be a model for every other small settlement.
The PWMT was established in 2007. Before that, a group of people led by Jean Stanley had been working for five years to restore the natural environment about Pukawa on the southern shores of Lake Taupo (Taupo Moana). The same work continues today, albeit somewhat refined.
Pukawa is an area of significance in New Zealand history being the place where the Ngati Tuwharetoa paramount chieftainship was established, where the first Maori king was chosen at an early hui and from where the first National Park was gifted to Aotearoa/New Zealand. The Pukawa area consists of a local papakaianga and marae together with a small village nestled into the bush containing the homes of both permanent residents and holiday makers.
The aim of the Trust is to improve the indigenous flora and fauna (mainly the bird life) in the Pukawa area. The main area is some 160 hectares of native bush including the village. Much of this bush contains regrowth (about 70 years) but there are some areas of mature podocarp forest remaining from the early fires and felling, as well as some wetland. The work of the PWMT has had excellent results. Pigeon, tui, fantails and bellbirds are most common and whiteheads, tomtits and robins are being seen with increasing frequency. The best news of late has been the sighting and hearing of bush robins throughout the bush. This is different from the occasional one or two seen there of recent years and suggests that some breeding may be taking place. The NZ Falcon may be seen occasionally about the fringes of our bush area – another good sign.
The work of the PWMT has been assisted with funding over the years by Waikato Regional Council, Huckleberry’s Charitable Trust, the Waikato Catchment Ecological Enhancement Trust (Mighty River Power), PPOA and several others. Several other individuals gift to the PWMT, some on a regular basis. PWMT needs ongoing funding to maintain consumables (mainly lures and poison baits) and also to replace traps and bait stations. When funds run short the Trust makes application to funding sources such as above. This has become increasingly difficult for all groups such as ours as the economic situation has affected funders capital. If you can’t get down and dirty with the vermin you can help financially.
What a wonderful part of New Zealand.