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New recruits needed for war on Quarantine Island’s weeds

1 February 2017

Media release

New recruits needed for war on Quarantine Island’s weeds

Dunedin locals are invited to take part in summer weeding bees being held on the harbour’s historic Quarantine Island/Kamau Taurua (QI/KT).

Quite a few weeds are invading the island, including ivy, broom, tree lupin, sweet brier, Darwin’s Barberry, boxthorn, gorse, wilding pines, periwinkle, and elder.

Over the years, determined Quarantine Island/Kamau Taurua Community volunteers have worked to protect the weed free areas of the island from these invasive species. This is challenging due to the terrain. The charitable group hopes that enough locals will take part in their summer weeding bees to blitz in some hot spots down to a level that can be maintained year round by volunteers.

“Everyone is welcome, and it really is a great way to meet new people and find out about the history and ecology of the local area,” says QI/KT Community secretary, Kristen Bracey.

“Quarantine Island/Kamau Taurua is a special place, where you can slow down, find inner peace, and enjoy its beautiful views.

“I know from my own experience that you get a lot out of working alongside others on projects like this and also helping to restore biodiversity”, Kristen says.

A grant from the QEII Community Weedbusters Project towards transport costs to get volunteers across the harbour from Dunedin will remove one barrier to more people helping out.

Weedbusters national coordinator, Carolyn Lewis, says the restoration goals and community focus of the Quarantine Island/Kamau Taurua Community proposal made it an ideal project to support.

“The QI/KT Community are not only helping to knock back weeds and enhance the ecological values of Quarantine Island/Kamau Taurua, they are also reaching out to different sectors of the community to encourage their connection with this unique place and to share in its care,” she says.

People wanting volunteer for working bees on the island can email secretary.quarantineisland@gmail.com or quarantineisland@gmail.com or call the keeper on 03 478 0874 to find out how to get involved.

The Quarantine Island/Kamau Taurua weedbusting project is one of a number of initiatives being supported through the QEII Community Weedbusting Project, which is funded under the DOC Community Fund.

More information

Quarantine Island/Kamau Taurua sits in the heart of the Otago Harbour, a remnant of an ancient Dunedin volcano. It covers an area of around 14 hectares, and is a publicly accessible recreation reserve.

In pre-European times it was used by southern Māori as a place to camp while collecting kaimoana. From 1863 to 1924, it functioned as the Otago Quarantine Station, and was the first place ashore for many thousands of settlers, some of whom suffered with infectious diseases upon their arrival in New Zealand. It was used as a military hospital during World War One.

There are a number of buildings on the island and a small cemetery that stand as a reminder of these times. With the help of volunteers, restoration work is underway to restore these heritage sites. For 50 years at least, volunteers have also helped with reforestation and replanting programmes there.

The Quarantine Island/Kamau Taurua Community (Incorporated) (formerly the St Martin Island Community), is a group of dedicated volunteers who manage the island recreation reserve jointly with the Department of Conservation.

Environmental weeds pose an insidious threat to New Zealand’s natural heritage and are a major issue for anyone managing natural areas. Weeds impact on our iconic landscapes, fragment habitats, degrade protected areas and suppress natural regeneration. Environmental weeds reduce the productivity of the natural heritage that New Zealanders value, protect, and are working to restore. Environmental weeds are an issue for all regions of New Zealand and effect all habitat types, including coastal, forest, alpine, riparian and wetland habitats. Environmental weeds pose a significant threat to threatened native plants that often have fragmented ranges or are range restricted.

Queen Elizabeth II (QEII) National Trust is an independent statutory organisation and registered charity that partners with private landowners to help them permanently protect special natural and cultural heritage sites on their land with covenants. It is the perpetual trustee for a network of over 4,200 covenants currently protecting around 180,000ha of New Zealand’s natural heritage.

Weedbusters NZ is national interagency programme launched in 2003 to raise awareness and interest in weeds issues, and to encourage individuals and communities to get active in environmental weed control. Weedbusters NZ is supported by the Department of Conservation, Ministry for Primary Industries, Landcare Research, Landcare Trust, Forest & Bird, the Nursery and Garden Industry NZ, QEII National Trust, all regional councils/unitary authorities, and the majority of district and city councils.


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