Hauturu is one of New Zealand’s few Nature Reserves, which puts it in the highest category of environmental protection. Because of this, its distance from the mainland and its ruggedness, it has been protected from many of the ravages of human occupation and development that have occurred on the mainland and less rugged islands. So if you are lucky enough to travel to Hauturu you will find that it is a lot like travelling to another country.
Firstly, you must have a permit from DOC to land on the island. You can only travel on vessels that have a Pest Free Warrant and are permitted to land you on the island. And you can only land on the day or days specified on your permit. Not only that, but you must go through a stringent biosecurity check at DOC. Your gear will be thoroughly checked by DOC staff and must be scrupulously clean.
It is then stored in pest proof containers for transport to the island to prevent the introduction of pests such as rats, plague skinks (aka rainbow skinks), Argentine ants, weed seeds, or disease such as kauri dieback. The aim of this is to protect the near pristine environment of Hauturu and the health of all flora and fauna on the island.
There are other ways that we can all help to protect Hauturu and its rich mixture of plants and creatures and also the other restoration islands in the Hauraki Gulf, like Tiritiri Matangi or Motuora. If you are out and about on the water this summer (I am told it is coming), make sure you are not inadvertently carrying any pests, especially if your boat has been stored in a shed or undercover for the winter. Check for plague/rainbow skinks (they are rife around Warkworth), Argentine ants and rats or mice that might have thought your boat or dive gear a nice place to hide for the winter. Those of us with coastal properties can also ensure that we don’t have pest plants, like pampas, with windborne seeds.
News from the island
A volunteer maintenance team has been out to the island recently to clean the exterior of the ranger’s house. The paid weed team is on the island at present doing a great job removing any weeds, with special attention to pampas and climbing asparagus. Two working weekends of Little Barrier Island supporters are planned for the spring and a further two for the autumn. The Supporters’ Trust has received a very generous grant from Foundation North towards weed work on Hauturu over the next three years.