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Onoke Spit vehicle behaviour earns DOC praise

Media release

20 December 2011

Onoke Spit vehicle behaviour earns DOC praise

The behaviour of drivers on Onoke Spit during the current breeding season of the rare Caspian tern has been applauded by the Department of Conservation (DOC).

Wairarapa Area biodiversity programme manager Bruce Vander Lee said vehicle tracks at the spit, in south Wairarapa, revealed that drivers were making an effort to avoid the tern colony.

“They’ve been using the beach when possible, and staying on established tracks - exactly the type of behaviour we’re trying to encourage. It shows that responsible vehicle use on the spit does not compromise the protected and threatened native species there.”

Signage and cones have been installed on the spit to advise drivers of the conservation values of the area, and how they can avoid disturbing them.

DOC is working with Friends of Onoke Spit, Palliser Estate Wines, and Wharekauhau Lodge to protect and restore sensitive habitats on the spit. In addition to pest control and planting native species, these groups recently erected a new fence to protect a vulnerable dune area.

Coordinator of Friends of Onoke Spit Denise MacKenzie says “It’s great that the community is involved in protecting the spit and restoring this unique and important ecosystem in the Wairarapa.”

Through the help of the community and volunteers, DOC is confident Onoke Spit will continue to be a safe habitat for Caspian terns and other important native species.

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