Bluff Hill Motupōhue Environment Trust Expands Network
Members of the Bluff Hill Motupohue Environment Trust at the Te Korowai Whakahou Native Plant Nursery under construction, left to right, President Estelle Pera-Leask, Project Manager David Swann, Nursery Administrator Leah Smith and Manager of Trent Robertson Hill operations. The nursery collected 50,000 seeds from Bluff Hill to replant for the rehabilitation of the hill.
Government funding has taken the Bluff Hill Motupōhue Environmental Trust one step closer to achieving its goal of making all of Bluff Hill free from predators.
In July, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan announced that the Bluff Hill Motupōhue Environment Trust had received $ 686,228 in funding from Jobs for Nature to continue to restore Awarua habitat, native replanting and eradication of weeds over three years.
Bluff Hill Motupōhue Environmental Trust project leader David Swann said the funding would allow the trust to expand current predator control, conservation and remediation measures, as well as hire two staff.
The plants to be rehabilitated would come from the new iwi-led charity Te Tapu o Tāne, the Southland Community Nursery or the trust’s Te Korowai Whakahou native plant nursery, which is currently under construction, Swann said. .
* Predator Free Southland obtains funding from a new coordinator
* Increased funding for predator control on the Banks Peninsula
* “Targeted attack” on the predator traps of Bluff Hill
“The goal is to plant 150,000 native plants on the hill during those three years,” Swann said.
Te Korowai Whakahou means the whakahou (reconstruction, restoration and renewal) of the korowai (mantle), the mantle being the forest that covers Motupōhue (Bluff Hill), a Tōpuni (sacred site) in Ngāi Tahu.
The nursery had been a project for the trust for the past several years, having received funding from Blacks Fasteners, Southland Community Trust, FoodStuffs and Te Rūnanga o Awarua, Swann said.
More than 50,000 seeds have been eco-sourced, the process of sourcing the seeds from where they were originally planted, from Motupōhue to be grown in the nursery and replanted on the hill, Swann said.
Restoring and protecting the Motupōhue ecosystem was not as simple as simply replanting natives – controlling predators would always be at the heart of the trust’s mission, Swann said.
“We have three main goals for the future, the first is predator control, you can’t do anything unless you’ve managed predator control, native replanting and weed control,” he said. -he declares.
“Take opossums, they make their way through a phenomenal amount of native vegetation, just opossums alone will devastate native vegetation. And they especially like tender young plants, if you’ve planted and haven’t controlled the possums, that’s it.
The trust has predator traps in networks across the Department of Conservation’s Motupōhue Scenic Reserve which has captured around 2,000 opossums and 4,000 other rats, not counting those killed with toxins.
Funding from Jobs for Nature would augment those networks to cover all of Bluff Hill, Swann said.
Bluff Hill Motupōhue Environmental Trust President Estelle Pera-Leask said protecting native species and Ngāi Tahu culture go hand in hand and are central to their predator-free goal.
“This [being predator free] goes straight to the heart of who we are as the Ngāi Tahu people because these species like tītī and sheepbirds are what we harvest every year, and it is part of our culture to do so. It is really important that these species are protected and do not disappear, ”she said.
“For Ngāi Tahu, we had our Deed of Settlement with the Crown in 1998, and Ngāi Tahu’s Deed of Settlement specifically speaks of Ngāi Tahu’s rights to practice our cultural values and culture, and so that it is not lost. “
Despite the new funding, Swann and Pera-Leask attributed the success of the trust to their network of volunteers at Bluff.
“We have about 20-25 active volunteers, they’ve been remarkably consistent over the years,” Swann said.
Although predator control must be continuous to be effective, after 13 years, the trust was starting to see results in their mahi (work), Pera-Leask said.
“The birds defend us, people love to walk down our hill because they see a flourishing forest that meets the sea, which is very rare in Southland now, these bits of paradise are really important. Our goal is not only to protect what we have, but to make it better by expanding it, ”said Pera-Leask.