Coordinator sets sights on pests

Ngaire Wallen has had years of pest and weed control experience.

Rats, stoats, weasels and other pests are on notice that their days on the Tawharanui Peninsula are numbered.

Ngaire Wallen has been appointed as the first Takatu LandCare community pest control coordinator and she is keen to see the peninsula pest-free by 2050.

Ngaire is one of 34 coordinators across Auckland funded from Auckland Council’s Natural Environment Targeted Rate, which is expected to raise about $314 million over the next five years.

She has had more than 10 years experience as a TOSSI trapline volunteer giving her firsthand understanding of trapping and weeding in the area.

“The LandCare group has been trapping for five years and during that time, we have collectively caught more than 2800 predators, and the difference in birdlife in Campbells Beach and Baddeleys Beach is really noticeable,” she says.

“As life goes on you can’t help but ponder on what your overall impact on the world will be. Planting trees or killing predators makes the world a better place for everyone and everything. Predator Free 2050 will require taking personal responsibility for our shared environment. It is no use waiting for someone else to take action.”

Takatu LandCare was established in 2014 to create a buffer zone for the Tawharanui Open Sanctuary and create a pest-free peninsula.

Ngaire says Council funding will enable the group to work more effectively with landowners and volunteers.

“Working collaboratively enables us to take on bigger projects such as spraying for climbing asparagus in a coordinated way or planting projects that require more muscle power than just a handful of people.

“The concept of kaitiakitanga, or guardianship, means taking a wider view than just your own backyard, and working together to protect, restore or enhance our environment.”

Aside from her official role, Ngaire has started a crusade to rid the roadside between Matakana and Tawharanui of woolly nightshade, or tobacco weed.

“It is one of easiest invasive weeds to identify and kill,” she says. “Eliminating plants flowering right now will stop the seed source increasing. There are few things you can do that are so immensely and immediately rewarding.”

Takatu LandCare welcomes volunteers who would like to become involved, not only in trapping or weeding but in administration, communications, fundraising, managing social media, or making scones for a working bee.

“There is even an opportunity to be the chocolate supplier of choice – most working bees include food and most traplines end with chocolate.”

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