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Home arrow Events arrow Report from the AGM, 2015
Report from the AGM, 2015 PDF Print
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Action - Events
Written by NSaPS   
Monday, 21 December 2015

The Past

After a land exchange between Crown and private owners part of the Ngunguru Sandspit became Public Conservation Land in 2011. The Ngunguru Sandspit Protection Society had led a long, intensive campaign to save this iconic site from inappropriate development. There remained 16 ha of the Sandspit at the base of the adjacent mountain which is in private ownership, at risk from development but in 2011 the community was rejoicing in the success and keen to start work removing weeds and pests. The 83 ha of the Scenic Reserve was under DOC administration but a shared management system was planned for the future with tangata whenua, the community and DOC as partners.

It took longer than expected to get all parties together but the agreement has now been reached that the most urgent need was to work together in order to save the flora and fauna from further degradation. The announcement was made at the 2014 AGM by Hone Tana who was mandated representative of the Te Waiariki Trust Board. We had the go-ahead on behalf of Te Waiariki, Ngati Korora, Ngati Takapari and signed by leaders, Pereri Mahanga, Hone Tana and Paratene Te Manu Wellington.

The Present

Since 2011 NSaPS has had two quite separate tasks. The first – and to the community on the mainland the most obvious task – was for the Sandspit to be restored, for flora and fauna and the fragile eco-system to be protected. There is recognition of the waahi tapu status of the land to be respected and unanimous calling for the spit to remain a special ‘wilderness sanctuary’ for all to enjoy the open space, beauty and solitude.

The second task is to work towards the acquisition of the balance of the Sandspit at the base of the hill and Whakairiora Mountain. Its threatened ecosystem makes it a priority area for protection and it is culturally one of the most sensitive parts of the Spit. The forested lower slopes and the entire mountain is of such high environmental and cultural significance that it needs to be recognised of national value.

Looking for words to describe the work of NSaPS this past year I would say it can be summed up in a short sentence: laying the foundation for a future joint management system. It was partnership in action. It was getting to know new friends and re-connecting with new faces. We discussed and shared plans, memories and information. We worked together and celebrated together. In the process we all learnt a lot. We were faced with diverse challenges and at times it felt like sailing in uncharted territory.

The Executive Committee had a lot to deal with and everything seemed to be marked ‘high priority’. There have been several changes during the year. Robyn Skerten, Diane Coker and Evan Hamlet are not standing for re-election. We thank their many years of support. The shortage of volunteers and change in the role of secretary also added to difficulties at this stage. We thank Cam McInnes who stepped down from the committee, exchanging his role of secretary to that of professional trapper, forming Carex Ecological Services. We welcomed Sally Hume to the team as secretary. It is good to know that while we are waiting for the completion of the Management Agreement trapping of predators has already started on private land, adjacent to the Spit.

The annual Community events held during the summer holidays were well attended. Comments from the public showed that the lack of clear official signage regarding the Sandspit was causing much confusion and some criticism. It is easy to see why the choice of where to put the signs was not simple, especially on the other side of the river, where the boundaries are not visible and access points debatable. We have now received clear guidelines from DOC regarding the Ngunguru Reserve Rules and will be able to pass this on via our communication system. DOC and WDC are working on Plans for signs which will provide much valuable information.

NSaPS, hapu/whanau and Nigel Miller of DOC discussed the work to be done at a site a site visit on the Sandspit in November. Work on the MOU was started by Darlene, with Gina also taking part and Nigel now working on the completion of the Management Agreement which deals with health and safety issues. We have to wait the signing of the document before being permitted to start work on the Spit. In February Darlene gave a Presentation at a Northland Conservation Board Meeting speaking on the national significance of the Sandspit and the associated coastal area. Darlene announced her resignation in March. The Executive Committee was greatly helped and guided by her expertise. We thank Darlene for the huge amount of support given during her time with us.

Some years ago TCR&R allocated a sum of money to show the Association’s appreciation of NSaPS work in trying to save the sandspit. The $5K was to kick-start the purchase of the Sandspit, but the asking price being many millions the matter was not taken any further. We are delighted to report that the donation of the $5K has been transferred into NSaPS bank account and will be used for predator control just as soon as health and safety regulations are completed.

The Sandspit Beach Walk organised by NSaPS has become an annual event. Robyn Skerten who for several years managed the very demanding task of organizing this annual event has our grateful thanks for this marathon job she did. Over 100 people took part and this year there was again a great deal of rubbish collected leaving our lovely beaches cleaner and safer. Ngunguru School pupils are becoming well known for their involvement in saving the environment, their EarthEd programme led by Loren Hope is strongly supported by NSaPS. They are keen conservationists and are an example to the community.

Community environmental education has always been at the core of NSaPS programme and this has now taken on a new dimension. The plan is for an Environmental Awareness Programme for whanau, especially tamariki, focusing on residents in the area reached by Ngunguru Ford Road. This effort will be strengthened by the new signage planned for the entry points to Pii Manu. These signs will encourage community support and co-operation from the public in helping to save the birds and protect the fragile dunes.

We are encouraged by NRC’s interest in our efforts on the Sandspit, and indicated the possibility of future NRC support in restoring the habitat. A Plant Assessment Day on the Sandspit was attended by Lisa Forester, NRC Laura Shaft, Loren and others. This year has also seen an increase in networking with other organisations in particular with TCR&R and NZ Landcare Trust, CoastCare and others. We benefit from contact with Northland Conservation Board and thank DOC for advice received.

NSaPS decision to re-apply for funding for the second round of CCPF 2015 was followed by weeks of intensive work. Updating and amending 2014 CCPF application prepared by Cam we started on the new document. The Expression of Interest, a new requirement, was presented and accepted. The first hurdle was overcome. With only about four weeks in which to prepare the 2015 application Linda and her team worked wonders and managed to put together the 20 page application which was presented on time together with the letters of support and other accompanying documentation. The application is for funding a 3-year initial restoration plan for Ngunguru Sandspit. Due to the restriction on funding changes had to be made to the earlier request. The final amount applied for is $71,800. We are told that NSaPS will be notified of the result of the application this August.

To the best of my abilities I have put on record the events and work carried out by our team relating to NSaPS first task, that of dealing with the part of the Sandspit, the Reserve, during this past year. Before we look to the future we need to inform all our members and friends what steps have been taken towards our second goal: the vision of the balance of the Sandspit and Whakairiora Mountain in safe hands.

Shared visions and the future

After the last election Jim had spoken to Dr Shane Reti who had become Member of Parliament for Whangarei. Following on this first meeting contact was again made and Dr Reti invited to Ngunguru to meet with members of the Executive Committee and become familiar with the situation regarding Ngunguru Sandspit Reserve and the associated coastal area of Whakairiora, the mountain so significant as an important cultural, historical feature of the landscape.

During the successful visit we explained NSaPS role, management issues and the reasons for looking into the possibility of acquiring the areas still in private ownership and at risk from inappropriate development. We discussed the possibility of a further land exchange between Crown and landowner. Shane Reti requested that we obtain confirmation from DOC that there are no impediments to further land exchange and inform him with name and contact details of the person dealing with such matters in the Department.

Nicki Douglas, Director Partnerships, North Northland, Hamilton DOC Office has met members of the Executive Committee. At the meeting the main subject for discussion was how to protect the balance of the Spit and the adjacent mountain Whakairiora. Shane Reti will be kept informed of further discussions and plans.

logo

NSaPS logo shows the mountain, the sandspit and the sea. These natural treasures play an important role in our lives, and have done so for the generations before us. Decision we take now will be crucial for generations coming after us. This coast has been recognised as one of the most outstanding places to visit. Making sure that it retains its unspoilt forest clad mountain, seclusion and safe habitat for wildlife on the sandspit and marine biodiversity in the surrounding waters is an investment in our children’s and grand children’s future. This is conservation for prosperity, tiakina te taiaio, kia puawai.

This as an answer to those who may ask why we want to take on this second of our two tasks. Conservation of the environment can lead to jobs and prosperity. With New Zealand facing a biodiversity crisis it is essential that we act now.

This has been a busy year for the Executive Committee. Some of you are not standing for re-election at this AGM but all of you have contributed and we thank you. We welcome new members who have offered their assistance. We are grateful to have the advice and support of our partners, with whom we had such close contact this past year. We apologise if we did not find time to communicate with our members as frequently as we would have liked to. We plan to improve our game in this respect as we consider communication, in all its forms, of vital importance. Please visit our website www.ncag.org.nz which has much information from NSaPS earliest struggles to see the Sandspit protected to present times. Special thanks to our webmaster, Steve Marshall.

NSaPS is confident that it is a strong team and will face the future with considerable optimism.


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Last Updated ( Monday, 21 December 2015 )
 
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