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  • BRaid Newsletter #38: 01 June 2018

    Posted on June 1, 2018 by in Black-backed gull, Canterbury Water Management Strategy, ECan, Fresh water management, Newsletters, Zone Committee meetings


    Our next meeting is 2-5pm, next Friday 08 June, at the DOC offices, Ngai Mahi Rd Sockburn.

    In the last couple of weeks, Environment Canterbury have held several community meetings in North Canterbury in relation to water, birds, and braided riverbeds. As media interest has spiked these past weeks, several people have called or emailed asking me what’s going on. The water situation goes back much further than a few weeks and is too complex to delve into here, but if you’re keen to know more, see the ECan website (links to the exact page); the next Hurunui-Waiau Zone Committee meeting is 18 June, and agendas for past meetings are here. If you are interested only in the issues surrounding the Hurunui Water Project, this newspaper article on ‘water wars’ is a well written insight. Minimum flow regimes were brought in by ECan five years ago as a long-term requirement under the Hurunui and Waiau River Regional Plan (HWRRP); this  is brief news article on Forest & Bird’s legal challenge  into the issue of the Amuri Irrigation Company.

    One day, the entire story will make a fascinating book…if anyone can ever untangle the details.

    The other ECan meetings have been about birds and braided riverbeds:


    The Hurunui Waiau Zone Committee has allocated $300,000 to the Hurunui Waiau Braided River project to:

    (a) create a series of islands to support (failing) colonies of black-fronted terns and black billed gulls. This follows the successes of similar island creation projects on the Clarence and lower Waitaki Rivers, and;

    (b) manage the numbers of southern black-backed gulls (SBBG) in the area.

    Two meetings were held last week in Culverden and Cheviot to outline the broad plan. The management of SBBG  is part of a larger discussion, and ECan have contracted Wildlife Management International Ltd (WMIL) to develop a Canterbury Southern Black-backed Gull Strategy. As part of developing this strategy, several stakeholder meetings will be held to provide background context and, most importantly, to listen to people’s views. The meetings will be held at:

    • Tūhaitara Coastal Park (1 Woodend Beach Rd, Woodend Beach) – Monday 2nd July, 10am-12pm
    • Ashburton (Seniors Centre, 206 Cameron St) – Tuesday 3rd July, 1pm-3pm
    • Waihao Marae (26 Maori Rd, Morven) – Wednesday 4th July, morning (time to be confirmed)

    If you are interested in attending, please contact Donna Lill :027-460-2885, or so that they can provide you with further information prior to the meeting. More background information is also available here.

    Determining the extent of braided rivers

    How can we determine the extent of the ‘river bed’ in braided rivers in order to manage for the multiple values in braided river beds and their margins, in particular through RMA regulation?  It’s not as simple as it might first appear, as I’ve explained here. If you are invited to one of these ECan-led meetings over the coming months (the next is Monday 25 June at the Waihao River), I urge you to attend. Figuring out the answers is not going to be easy, but it’s crucial if we’re going to have ‘braided’ rivers in the coming decades.

    Sonny Whitelaw


    • Ashley Estuary trap making group managed to make some 90 traps a few weeks ago. The traps are destined for the Ashely Estuary, as part of a strategy to prepare the area for possible re-introduction of kaki. Well done to everyone who took part!
    • Karikaas gold-medal Gouda Vintage ‘wrybill’ boxed cheeses are now sold through Countown supermarkets in both the North and South Islands. You can also buy them online. If you are holding a function, these are not only some of the best cheeses money can buy (they win awards for a very good reason) but they make a fantastic talking point if you are supporting braided rivers and braided river birds
    • Aspiring Biodiversity Trust just managed to implement their Makarora Braided River Bird Invasive Predator Control Strategy before the first wild weather hit! A team of amazing volunteers helped deploy a number of invasive mammal traps along 15 km of the Makarora River.
    • Dart River; Meanwhile, down in Glenorchy, Russell Varcoe has been doing an impressive job with their new trapping programme: 105 mustelids and 160 rats have been caught since they first started trapping a few months ago.
    • Climate change impacts in braided river birds. Our website had three key impacts: rising sea levels, ocean acidification, and altered weather patterns. A fourth has now been added: oceanic currents, as this is critical to the availability of food for birds that winter on coastal regions.
    • Adapting to climate change: to date the government has largely been focussed on mitigation to keep greenhouse gas emissions under 1.5 degrees C. That’s to reduce the impacts on our kids and grandkids. But what about adaptation? At last, this report offers clear recommendations for planners and policy makers. Weather bombs are here to stay, folks, so let’s start preparing instead of reacting.
    • New rabbit virus in Marlborough: this is NOT the RHDV1-K5 strain that was released in March and April. It’s the RHDV2 strain, also new to New Zealand. As both viruses spread, predators will have no choice to increasingly turn their attention to other prey…including baits in traps, hopefully. It will be interesting to see the results of winter trapping.
    • Transforming Community Conservation Funding in New Zealand: this report is well worth reading in its entirety, even if it does seem a little repetitive in its message, because taking heed of that message may be the difference between failing and succeeding when it comes to designing, funding, and managing conservation projects.
    • NatureWatch has been rebranded to iNaturalistNZ. Along with this rebranding is a new website link. As those of you who already use the app will know, iNaturalist is an international community of naturalists, so this folds the ‘NatureWatch’ website into the international site while retaining all the original Kiwi features.

    From around the web

    Check our Facebook page regularly, as events posted there often expire within days.

    Membership Renewal is due at the AGM September each year. If you are not already a member of BRaid, you can join as a General, Casual, or Representative member. General Membership is a modest $20/annum, giving you voting rights and the opportunity to have a say in BRaid’s activities.

    Thanks to those who have contributed to this newsletter. Please keep news items coming. If they are time-sensitive, I’ll put them on Facebook.

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