Pest Animals

Pest animals plague the area: feral cats, mustelids and rats live and hunt in the area, but so far no programmes have been put in place to deal with them. 

New seedlings get plastic 'harenets' and a cardboard collar to discourage weeds and keep roots moist.

New seedlings get plastic 'harenets' and a cardboard collar to discourage weeds and keep roots moist.

Rabbits appeared in 2003 to eat young trees, and "harenets" have been placed to protect the seedlings until they are large enough to withstand the depradations.

The nets (plastic sleeves) placed over hooped wires, are bio-degradable over the 2-3 years for the growth-time needed, and then the wires can be removed.

Before 2001 no pest control was carried out by either the land-owner or the Regional Council, with the result that possums flourished in great numbers in the valley.  The canopy showed great deterioration, remaining berried trees were stripped bare, and in the best of the remnant bush the only visible regeneration was of kawakawa, which possums dislike.

The only birds that could survive were fantails and a few gray warblers with their shining cuckoo "friends".  Neither kereru (wood pigeons) nor tui were seen, as there was literally no food. 

With the successful flax-plantings in the Cannons Creek Lake Reserve, the tui returned and have slowly spread into the nearby suburbs.  A morepork owl has been heard also.



And with the improvement of water quality through restoration work in the little freshwater wetland in the Reserve, 2003 saw the return of pukeko after a 60 year absence.  To help protect these birds, which soon produced chicks, a rahui was placed by Ngatitoa Kaumatua in March 2003, with much interest from local children who play in the Reserve.  These bird species show that with continued restoration and protection, many native birds will be able to survive even as close to cities as this is.

However the key to the return of others, such as kereru, is the destruction of brush-tailed possums.  In 2002 the Park Ranger installed and monitored 10 bait stations in the Cannons Creek Conservation Covenant, and by 2003 another 46 were placed right across the valley.  These are monitored and re-stocked by the Friends who visit each bait station once a month.  The signs of improved regeneration and canopy have already begun.  With farm-land all around, it is expected that this work will continue indefinitely.

There is more information on our Possum Control page.

Protection Techniques

A postscript about Rabbits - 2012

Friends of Maara Roa have no advice or ability to trap rabbits, and would have to kill them if so.

We are not allowed to get shooters in though there have been offers from men who would have gone in at dusk - but this is unsafe in a public park.

When we had the plague of rabbits after the 2003 fire, we tried poison but they simply ignored it.

Since then, we have had to put the harenets/hare protectors on the trees rather than deal with rabbits.

We also note that numbers have decreased, and we think that is probably due to the return of feral cats, rats and mustelids who would have fled the fire and who took a while to build up in numbers again.

It is all a matter of the "balance of nature" in our valley – as there is no way we can become a full sanctuary without a predator proof fence, we have to be satisfied with the return of the honey-eaters and berry eaters such as tui and kereru, who seldom if ever feed on the ground, and who mostly escape predation of their chicks except by rats.

As the cats and mustelids find rats easier to catch than birds, they limit the bird-kill by the rats.

The cats and mustelids like rabbit babies best of all, so we are best to leave nature red in tooth and claw to deal with rabbits and the few hares that may venture here.

That is also the reason we are not carrying out trapping mustelids or feral cats.  Even GWRC has advised caution on the latter.  Strange but true.