Last month, Lyn Wade shared the first part of an essay on sustainable living written by Mahina Walle, the Hauturu ranger’s 14-year-old daughter. This month, Lyn presents the rest of it …
Feral cats were eradicated from Hauturu (Little Barrier Island) in 1980 by the Wildlife Service using traps. Kiore (Polynesian rats) were eradicated by the Department of Conservation (DoC) in 2004 using an aerial Talon Brodifacoum poison bait drop. Today, the main synthetically produced chemicals we use on the island are rat poison (in case any rodents arrive on the island), helicopter spraying (for introduced pampas grass) and poison directed at other plant pests such as kikuyu. Climbing asparagus is weeded using hand tools. Although synthetic chemicals aren’t sustainable, keeping Hauturu predator-free ensures a healthy ecosystem where endangered species such as kakapo, kokako, saddleback, hihi, chevron skinks and tuatara can survive. Many of these species are extinct on mainland New Zealand. Wildlife sanctuaries, such as Little Barrier Island, prevent species from becoming extinct and reduce our destruction of nature.
The only fuel-run vehicles we have are a diesel tractor and a petrol-powered boat, both of which are used occasionally. We use the boat to patrol the island (to make sure no one is landing), do drop offs and ferry people and gear from the supply ship and other vessels that come to Hauturu. The only times the tractor is used is when we transport food, gear or firewood and when we mow the grass. We use a wheel barrow to transport small loads. The rest of the time we walk everywhere. Access to most of the island is by walking track.
We recycle all plastic, tin cans, glass, paper and cardboard. This gets put in Auckland Council recycling bins and is taken off the island by the DoC supply ship. We recently started washing and recycling all our soft plastics, which are then sent to supermarkets and recycled into things such as plastic benches. This means that we hardly have any rubbish to be sent to the rubbish dump. Our compost goes on our vege garden. Although a lot of energy is used to recycle plastic, recycling uses less energy and fossil fuels than making new products from non-renewable oil.
Visiting Hauturu provides an educational opportunity to learn about the benefits of conservation and living sustainably. When people visit Hauturu I believe (or at least hope) that they leave with a positive image of how New Zealand could be if introduced predators were removed and the wildlife was left to flourish by itself. They also see the sustainable methods we are using and hopefully reflect on how they could incorporate these ideas into their lives. I think it is important for people to take responsibility for sustainability rather than thinking it isn’t their problem. If the earth runs out of clean air, water or food because of pollution, climate change and environmental destruction, we will all be at fault.
Lyn Wade, Little Barrier Island Supporters Trust