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Project Janszoon news - December 2015

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In this issue - Wasp control for the Park in 2016; Internet access at Torrent Bay and Anchorage; Kaka hanging out with wild birds; Anchorage dunes - before and after; Education update; It's all in a name - Pikikiruna Range

Message from Devon McLean 


2015 has been a great year for Project Janszoon, and our partners, and I have been delighted to see us moving more into the restoration phase of the project.
 
It was humbling to have everyone’s hard work recognised on both the national and international stage this year.  We were able to celebrate our wins at the 2015 Green Ribbon Awards in June and the Green World Awards in October alongside representatives from DOC and the Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust.
 
These awards are a recognition of the collaborative work that is being undertaken in the Park so a huge thank you must to go to all those contributing their time, energy and enthusiasm.
 
A major milestone was releasing kaka and this will be the first of many kaka releases over the next few years.  We are also looking like we will have around 20 kakariki to release in January which is wonderful and testament to the good work of our experts and the four breeding aviaries.
 
These bird releases are only possible because of predator control and we plan to extend the stoat trapping network next year to the north of the Park.  The prospect of a beech mast is also looking stronger than ever so we are preparing for that eventuality.
 
Weeds are definitely in our sights and the Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust is supporting the focus on the Park’s problem plants.  Our “Adopt a Section Schools” are bringing more students into the Park and it is great to see the student leaders step up as part of our Student Advisory Board.
 
Thanks to DOC staff and management for their hard work and support over the year.  I wish everyone, including the concessionaires, adjoining landowners and the Janszoon team a safe and happy Christmas and New Year.

Released kaka seen with wild birds
 
Two of the juvenile kaka released in the Park last month are mixing with wild birds giving hope that they will breed with the local population in the future.
 
The four female kaka released from the Wainui aviary in early November were fitted with radio transmitters to track their movements.  Monitoring has found two of the birds have stayed around the aviary, which has a feeder outside it, and they have been seen with wild birds.
 
The older kaka has mostly spent time in the Canaan area.  Unfortunately one of the young birds was found dead about three weeks after its release and a necropsy showed high levels of lead.  Tests on the wire mesh from the Wainui aviary show the lead is not from there so we are still trying to ascertain where the birds may have come into contact with it.
 
There are also high hopes for the captive breeding programme with seven wild kaka caught and transmittered at Nelson Lakes.  By following the birds DOC, Janszoon workers and Friends of Rotoiti have managed to find and protect four breeding nests so far. 
 
“The plan is to remove some of the young for raising at Natureland and eventually assimilate them into the captive population.  It is likely we can release up to 12 male and female kaka from this season’s captive programme into the Park in autumn,” says Project Janszoon ornithologist Pete Gaze.

 
Wasp control 
 
A wasp control programme will be carried out in 2016 along the coast track, campsites and huts, and blocks at Pitt Head and Falls River.  DOC will run the programme and it is funded by Project Janszoon and the Abel Tasman Foreshore Scenic Reserve Fund which is funded from foreshore concession fees. 
More info here
Wondering what it is like today at Torrent Bay, Anchorage or Astrolabe?  Check out our live webcams here
Read our 2015 annual report here
Kaka returns to the Abel Tasman National Park
Watch our kaka video
Internet access at Torrent Bay and Awaroa
 
Bach owners will be able to access the internet on private land in the Park this summer through the Project Janszoon Wi Fi network.
 
It will be pay-per-use access to the internet with Torrent Bay going online before Christmas and Awaroa later in January.  The system will work in a similar way to how you access the internet at a hotel or airport and will cost $5 a day, $25 a week or $50 for 30 days use inclusive of GST.  These funds will help maintain the Wi Fi network, and depending on how many people use the service, will also provide some funding towards the Project.
 
Please be aware that given the nature of the environment, with the proximity to the sea and wildlife with an interest in destroying equipment, the service can fail at any time and we are not able to guarantee any level of service.
 
To access the internet just look for Wi Fi with your device and follow the instructions for “Project Janszoon Internet Access”
 
Torrent Bay
 
The hotspot will be active a few days before Christmas and will be available at the southern end of the village (within a few hundred metres' radius of Wilson's Lodge).  
 
Once you see how far the coverage reaches you may be interested in a permanent relay at your own home.  If so please let us know and we can put you in touch with Groundtruth to find out if your location would work and how much it will cost.
 
Awaroa
 
It is proposed to have a hotspot at Meadowbank and another situated on the hill near Mike Crawford’s property.  Groundtruth plans to install these hotspots and do other work on the Wi Fi network at Awaroa in January.
 
Similar to Torrent Bay, once the hotspots are online, if you are interested in having your own permanent relay then let us know and Groundtruth can let you know how much it will cost.
 
Contact Robyn if you are interested in more information on how your own relay would work.

Rata planting underway


Volunteers undertook back-breaking work on steep coastal planting sites in September as planting of northern rata began in the Park.
 
76 northern rata trees have been planted at five sites, at Medlands/Bark Bay, South Head, Wallaby Creek, Mosquito Bay and Shag Harbour
 
Expert planting contractors Helen Lindsay and Rob Lewis were assisted by volunteers Dave Wilson from the Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust and visiting DOC hut warden Bea Wiggenhauser.
 
“These people were chosen specifically because of their experience in tough terrain as the slips were physically challenging and not suitable for casual volunteers”, says Helen.
 
The sites for re-planting were scoped out by Operations Manager Andrew Macalister and Project Janszoon director Philip Simpson.  Philip is a renowned botanist and the author of an award-winning book about pohutukawa and rata called ‘New Zealand's Iron-Hearted Trees’.
 
“My job is to understand the ecology of rata and the Park so we plant where they are highly likely to succeed,” says Philip.
 
Philip says southern rata should return naturally in the interior of the Park as possums are controlled.  While there are places where northern rata will grow back naturally, high visibility sites have been identified where they will need help to return, and they will serve as centres for future seed dispersal.
 
“We are spending a lot of time and energy re-introducing birds that are nectar feeders and historically, large flocks converged on the Park.  Northern rata is a huge tree and iconic to the Abel Tasman and it has mast years every so often when it provides a huge amount of energy in the form of nectar,” says Philip.

Dave Wilson at a planting site                                                    Bea and Dave working hard
Bellbirds more noticeable in top of Park      

Our ornithologist Pete Gaze has been doing his annual bird transects in November.  This is the fourth year he has been collecting data at Canaan and Medlands. 
 
Pete says while monitoring did not show many noticeable increases in bird abundance, there has been a year on year increase in bellbird numbers in the Canaan area.
 
“This data gives us a strong baseline but it will take time to be able to measure other changes in bird abundance,” he says.
 
He says as predator control becomes more effective species like robin, tit and rifleman will become more widespread at lower altitudes. 
 
Few blue penguins in north of Park
 

For the third year running rangers have surveyed part of the coastline to find out how many blue penguins call the Abel Tasman home.
 
This year the survey was undertaken from the road end at Wainui Bay, around the coast past Separation Point, to Totaranui.  In previous years surveys between Anchorage, Awaroa and Onetahuti Bay found a number of small colonies scattered along the coastline with sizeable breeding colonies at Frenchmans Bay, Reef Point and Fisherman Island
 
The surveys provide baseline data for the distribution and abundance of blue penguin in the Park.  This year's survey found signs of only a few burrows between Wainui Bay and Whariwharangi with no sign of penguins from Whariwharangi to Anatakapau.  The largest colony with around 15 burrows, was found between Anapai and Totaranui.  This photo from ranger Reuben Lane is a bird and chick at Totaranui Head. 
 
Project Janszoon ornithologist Pete Gaze says it is likely pigs are one of the reasons for relatively low numbers of penguins.  “There are greater densities of penguins in areas where the birds can be safe from pigs so that is likely to be the limiting factor,” he says. 
Anchorage dunes - before and after
2013 - before work began
Two years later
2013 - before DOC, Project Janszoon and Motueka High School started work
2015 - after the dunes were smoothed out and replanted.  Not only does this work help beautify the area but it is also part of the firesmart work going on in the Park to reduce the risk of fire by removing highly flammable species like gorse.
Early black beech trial results encouraging
 
Results from the black beech trial are encouraging with monitoring finding a 98% survival rate with trees growing an average of 16cm.
 
DOC and Project Janszoon began the black beech tree trial on Adele Island in 2014 looking at beech tree survival in areas of harsh, low-fertility soils that have been burned in the past.
 
The aim is to reintroduce beech back into these environments where it has been lost and where it struggles to re-invade on its own as beech can only spread slowly from existing stands. It is hoped ultimately the beech trees help to restrict the spread and growth of the exotic weed Hakea, which prefers light to survive, and reestablish black beech forest ecosystems onto lowland ridges and headlands where it would once have dominated.
  
“Because of the long hot summer I would have expected a much higher mortality rate, so this is outstanding but it is early days. I would say I am cautiously optimistic,” says DOC technical advisor Simon Moore.  
 
Volunteers from the Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust and students from Motueka High School are helping with the trial and the trees will continue to be monitored annually.

Education update with Wendy Reeve
 
Our “Adopt a Section” schools finished out the year with plenty of enthusiasm and plans for deepening engagement with the Park next year.  
 
Students from The Base at Motueka High and Nelson's Maitai School had a great day in the Park earlier this month. Most of them had never been on a boat, never been into the Abel Tasman and never seen a campground or hut before. They were so excited, and Brooke Turner from DOC and I loved our day with them. The teacher is already looking forward to doing it again next year, and so are the kids.
 
We are also planning to add design and music to the programme next year with some exciting ideas beyond NCEA credits, such as entering compositions into a national annual music contest.  It was great to have Motueka High’s new principal John Prestidge join the Science X class for the day at Anchorage where they worked on dune ecology.
 
Golden Bay High School’s Val Brownlie and her Y8s had the first-ever overnight camp at Hadfield Clearing recently. Highlights included a bush-whacking walk off-track, and night-time activities including setting fish traps, spotlighting for fish, and calling for ruru.
 
At Motupipi Primary School the student leaders have learned to geocache with a gps, and they were delighted to be filmed by a crew from One News when they placed their own caches at their site at Taupo Point in November.  The story about geocaching will be on One News over the summer and the caches should go live on geocaching.com soon.  Why not take the family and do some geocaching in the Park over the holiday. Just be sure to write down the waypoints before you go. Your GPS or GPS app will work, but you might not get a mobile signal to run the geocaching app.
 
Motupipi’s 2015 student leaders have also done some great work pulling  together a planting plan for their site as their legacy before leaving for high school.
 
I look forward to another exciting and rewarding year with our schools in 2016.                                           Wendy

 
New Student Advisory Board for 2016

After a robust selection process including applications and interviews we have selected the new students for 2016’s Student Advisory Board.
 
The Board is made up of four students from partner schools Motueka High School, Golden Bay High School and Motupipi School.  The students meet regularly and step into leadership roles for the Adopt a Section Programme.
 
The final meeting of 2015’s board was held in October and the photo shows both the incoming and outgoing students who took part.  Education advisor Wendy Reeve says it was exciting to hear presentations from the students who were moving on and hear new members talking about their hopes for next year.  The new group will take part in a three day retreat in the Park in January.
It’s all in a name – Pikikiruna Range
 
As part of his research into place names in the Park, Project Janszoon Trustee and author Dr Philip Simpson takes a look at the origins of Pikikiruna.

Pikikiruna has given its name to the main range along the western side of the Park, and to the major faultline that has split the NW Nelson mountains to create the Takaka Valley, and to the unique metamorphic (heat-altered) rock, Pikikiruna schist, that forms the highest points along the western range.

At 1065m Pikikiruna Peak is one of the highest points in the Park, just short of nearby Mt Evans (1156m), and the only peak to retain its Maori name.  In the earliest European records Pikikiruna, is reported as “Pikeora”.  It means, the land that has to be climbed over, in order to get to the Takaka Valley and trails to the West Coast greenstone (pounamu) sources. The peak also forms the southern Park Boundary at the head of Ironstone Creek and is very conspicuous from the Takaka valley.

The word ‘piki’ means to climb or step over and also refers to things close together or confused, an apt term when applied to the contorted physical structure of the Park. The official name Pikikiruna’ is probably a mis-spelling of ‘Pikikirunga’. There is little in the meaning of ‘runa’ that relates to hills such as these, but the word ‘runga’ (a silent ‘g’) does relate. It means the top, or upper part, and with the preposition ‘ki’ means ‘up above’. Pikikirunga is the highest point close to the early Maori track over the hill from the Riwaka River valley. This route was taken by the earliest European explorers, (Heaphy and Brunner), with Maori guides, who used this name. It now applies in a general way to the Takaka Hill.
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