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Wgtn’s secret lakes revealed in Conservation Week

Conservation Week 2005, 1 - 7 August

Everything is connected – Te katoa o nga mea tukupu e mau hono takapari ana

20 July, 2005

Wellington’s secret lakes revealed during Conservation Week

Wellington’s “best-kept secret” is being revealed during Conservation Week.

On August 6 the Department of Conservation and Greater Wellington Regional Council are co-hosting an open day at the Pencarrow Lakes, a natural treasure on Wellington’s doorstep.

Booked participants will enjoy guided tours at Lakes Kohangapiripiri and Kohangatera, which are tucked away on the Wellington south-east coast, just around the corner from Pencarrow Lighthouse.

The lakes were formed in drowned valleys blocked off by beach ridges pushed up by the ocean up to 7000 years ago. This precious natural heritage site - one of New Zealand’s last remaining, relatively unmodified wetlands - forms part of the East Harbour Regional Park. It is now being protected and restored under joint management by the Department of Conservation and Greater Wellington Regional Council.

“We want to give people the opportunity to reach this unique ecosystem, which is so close to the city, learn about it and think about its future” Says DOC community relations programme manager, Jo Greenman.

“It’s a chance for them to learn about these special lakes and how they can be protected for our future enjoyment.”

People wanting to attend the event can book with the Department of Conservation for a place on one of three free buses that will transport nearly 200 people to the site from Burdan’s gate south of Eastbourne. A special reduced fare Dominion Post Ferry leaves Wellington’s Queen’s Wharf at 8am to connect to this bus. The buses leave Burdan’s Gate at 9.30am, after which time pre-booked cyclists may join the event.

Participants can sign up for a choice of guided walks in the morning and afternoon. These are suitable for all fitness levels and, on a clear day, boast stunning views of the South Island and the Pencarrow Lakes. Walkers will also be able to visit the historic Pencarrow Lighthouse for guided tours and find out more about the history, flora and fauna of the area in two afternoon field talks.

Limited places will be available on four wheel drive vehicles to access a walk to a remote lookout point over both lakes which would normally take a day to walk to.

Staff from Greater Wellington an DOC, will be on hand to talk about the special features of the area.

A sausage sizzle sponsored by Commonsense Organics, and soup supplied by Watties and Continental Cup∙a∙Soup are being laid on for the booked participants.

Ms Greenman says the Pencarrow Lakes area, with its connections between an upper valley catchment, through a wetland and lake system to the sea, is the ideal place to celebrate this year’s Conservation Week theme Everything is Connected.

“It emphasises the connections and need for balance between living things and humans, reminds us of the consequences of human activity and our role of guardianship/kaitiakitanga of our environment.”

Despite their proximity to a large urban area and 150 years of burning and grazing, the Pencarrow Lakes are relatively unmodified.

“With well over 70 percent of New Zealand’s wetlands drained, this provides us with a rare chance to preserve and protect a habitat that is virtually unspoiled.”

The area has a rich wetland biodiversity and some unique cultural features that include evidence of early Maori occupation and the first lighthouse in New Zealand. The lakes, wetlands and raised beaches together support a wide range of native plants and animals, including 10 species of significant plants, two fishes and three rare wetland birds. Banded dotterel nest on the open sand, the only area in the Wellington region where this occurs and the regionally threatened leafless shrub Muehlenbeckia ephedroides ekes out an existence on the high sand ridges. Since grazing ceased two years ago the area is starting to recover particularly around the lake shores.

Also on offer during Conservation Week in Wellington is Bie Baker’s art exhibition Just another Suburban Garden at Turnbull House, featuring an audiovisual presentation about life on Matiu/Somes Island and a chance to paint your own canvas and attend collage workshops, Sanctuary Film screening at the Film Archives, an environmental documentary by Zo¸ Roland about Tiritiri Matangi Island, Storytime, displays and colouring competitions at Wellington libraries, displays and lunchtime talks at the Wellington Anglican Cathedral and the Oriental Parade Seascape mural will have 15 new organisms added on August 2.


Caption: View of Lake Kohangatera with Wellington city in the background. Photo: Penelope Evison, Greater Wellington

Conservation Week activities in Wellington

- Open day at Pencarrow Lakes, Saturday August 6, guided walks, field talks, Pencarrow Lighthouse tours. Bookings essential with Jo Greenman or Rachelle Linwood from DOC. Phone 04 472 5821 or e-mail jgreenman@doc.govt.nz

- Film screening – Sanctuary. View this environmental documentary at the Film Archives cnr Ghuznee and Taranaki Streets on the big screen Thursday, 4th August at 6pm or throughout the week in the Film Archives media centre. Entry by gold coin donation or koha.

- Plantings at Catchpool Valley with local schools and community groups. Between July 18 and September 16.

- Wellington Library displays, Story times, displays and colouring competition at Central, Mervyn Kemp (Tawa), Karori and Cummings Park (Ngaio).

- Oriental Parade seascape mural - 15 new organisms will be mounted on the mural on Tuesday, August 2, from 10am to 12am. New species include an eagle ray and snakeskin chitins. Scientists and artists will celebrate the completion of phase three of this partnership between DOC and Wellington City Council’s arts team.

- Art Exhibition – Just another Suburban Garden –August 9-14, open daily from 8am to 6pm at Turnbull House 27 Bowen St. Take a look into the future, when thriving native wildlife is a normal part of Wellington gardens. See an exhibition of paintings by Matiu/Somes Island/Eastbourne artist Bie Baker. Audiovisual presentation about life on Matiu/Somes island and paint your own canvas and collage workshops. For more information and workshop bookings please phone Bie Baker on 027 2913216

Wellington Cathedral talks and displays

Displays will be mounted at the Wellington Anglican Cathedral in Molesworth Street during Conservation Week and the following week. The exhibition consists of displays contributed by a wide range of community, governmental, school and public groups involved with conservation and the human environment.

In association with the displays there will be a series of lunch hour talks from 12.05pm to 1pm daily from August 1 to 5.

Monday 1 August: Everything is connected; NZ Conservation Authority chairman Kerry Marshall Tuesday 2 August: The Celtic Connection June Latham: (Former food scientist with Massey University and involved with chaplaincy work).
Wednesday 3 August: Making Connections, Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons
Thursday 4 August: History as connector, Ecologist and author Geoff Park
Friday 5 August: Easter Island - Island Earth, God’s Island, John Flenley (A professor of geography with a long-standing interest in Easter Island).

Tea and Coffee provided. Bring own lunch. Koha appreciated. In conjunction with the talks there are displays in the Cathedral.

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