In 2006, a group of Golden Bay people with a special affinity for the Cobb Valley in Kahurangi National Park came together to form a Friends group. Their intent was to help protect the alpine valley’s native plants and animals.
Today, around 30 members are involved, mostly on pest control. Some 400 traps are in place, helping protect remnant populations of kaka, kakariki, falcon/karearea, robin/toutouwai, weka and long-tailed bats.
Since work began, great spotted kiwi have been heard more frequently in the valley and appear to have a stronghold in the remote alpine valleys beyond the head of the Cobb Valley. Friends secretary, Marian Milne, says the hope is to keep stoat numbers low enough so that these birds and others can begin to successfully breed further down the valley.
‘We are very excited to have these birds on our patch and in an area accessible to all ages of New Zealanders,’ she says.
Size of area under protection
The Friends of Cobb project area covers approximately 5000 hectares, and its eastern boundary abuts with another restoration project, Friends of Flora. Marian says the Flora group’s project area – some 10,000 hectares – is the largest intensively trapped area on mainland New Zealand. ‘We hope that their more intensive trapping work will mean breeding success for birds such as blue duck/whio, and give us spillover populations. Our lower intensity trapping programme will then hopefully be enough to allow these birds to survive on our patch.’ And it’s not all one-way traffic. Marian says that if Friends of Cobb can improve the breeding success of the great spotted kiwi, their birds may in turn spill south to the Flora area, which currently has a small population of translocated kiwi.
The biggest challenges for Friends of Cobb lie in getting traps in place to provide a cordon of protection, and then managing a timetable that allows volunteers to service them during windows of good weather in this ever-changing alpine environment.
Marian says the Friends of Cobb’s biggest success lies with its growing group of volunteers from the small Golden Bay community.
‘They love an excuse to go to the bush and make a difference for our New Zealand wildlife,’ she says.
The one most important thing
Marian encourages other community groups who have a remnant population of any threatened New Zealand species to reach out for support – ‘you’ll be surprised who wants to help. We have learned that DOC has a limited budget and must keep a national focus, but locally it provides good support for community initiatives to keep remnant populations going.’
The group’s success is also due to funding from organisations such as Kiwis for kiwi, WWF-New Zealand and the Cobb Hydro power scheme’s mitigation fund, managed by the Tasman Environmental Trust. Kiwis for kiwi has also provided access to valuable networks of information.
If you would like to learn more about the Friends of Cobb and its work, or volunteer your efforts, you can contact secretary, Marian Milne, at:
Phone: 03 525 7410
Postal address: 83 Ironworks Rd, Onekaka RD2, Takaka
Or contact its chair, Chris Petyt, at:
Phone: 03 525 8154
Postal address: Tukurua Rd, RD2, Takaka