Vollie News – Issue #4

Department of Conservation - Te Papa Atawhai

Welcome to

Wairarapa Vollie News

A quarterly newsletter full of information, volunteer profiles, upcoming activities and events

Issue #4

Kia ora – this newsletter, which would normally have been sent in March, was delayed due to COVID-19.

We thought you would all still appreciate the update, but please keep in mind that this information is from before Alert Level 4 was put in place.

It was a long, hot summer and the drought conditions affected us all one way or another. As well as all the other things we do each day for conservation, watching our water use has been right up there with watching and preventing fires in conjunction with the various council’s total fire bans, and we are all aware of how the COVID-19 virus is impacting our country.

We have been touching base with other DOC Volunteer coordinators and it’s great to see just how much is being done all around our country. Each district has different needs, different activities and tasks for volunteers – but no matter what is being done or where, it’s all invaluable and helps complete and create successes we wouldn’t have been able to do without you all.

Thank you to all for contributing the great articles and photos.

Our nature will thrive when we all engage our hearts, hands and minds to conserve our unique environment.

Photo: Chris Gin

Have any feedback or would like to add something into the next issue?Reply to this email!

Volunteers are the backbone of the region

Photo: Wendy Gray.

15 February 2020

Emma Brown

Wairarapa Times-Age

Nearly every week, I report on an emergency attended by Fire and Emergency New Zealand, and I see our volunteer fire fighters who have dropped everything, no questions asked, to help out at the scene.

It’s easy to say that volunteers are the “backbone and heart” of many things in our region.

But are new people willing to give up their time and help anymore?

Having lived in Wairarapa most of my life, I’ve seen first-hand that the love people have for the community.

I continuously see and hear of people helping with something to benefit others, whether it be helping with the shoebox Christmas initiative, foodbank, or volunteering as a firefighter.

In October, Mike Wakefield was the 34th person in more than 140 years of the Carterton Fire Brigade’s existence to receive the Gold Star for 25 years of volunteering service. It’s an amazing effort and there are others who have achieved the same feat in Masterton, Greytown, Featherston, and Martinborough.

For 25 years, my mum Judy Brown, has volunteered to run the Wairarapa Kids Triathlon Series. For as long as I can remember, the last two Mondays in February and first Monday in March was “kids’ tri time”. Seven years after her last child participated in the event, she is still pouring her heart and soul into the task. The dedication and time to run this event isn’t just three nights during the year. As soon as the last night over, she is already thinking about next year’s event. When I first talked to her six years ago about looking for someone to take over her role, to say I met resistance was an understatement. She said, “there is nothing like seeing the kids come up to me with their big smiles after finishing their race”. She hopes that someone will come in with the same passion she has to see the kids’ smiles.

That is what I think makes all the charities and events so strong in the region — the passion from the volunteers. Information from Statistics New Zealand’s latest quarterly Labour Market Statistics shows about 21.5 per cent of New Zealanders undertake volunteer work.

Kiwi volunteers contribute about 60 million hours of work each year.

A report by volunteering New Zealand in 2017 stated that volunteers were a crucial part of the not-for-profit sector and the country’s wider economy, providing the equivalent of about $3.5 billion to the country’s gross domestic product.

But are people still willing to volunteer?

Every year, calls come out for more volunteers, whether to shake a bucket, help at an event, or sign up as a regular volunteer for organisations like Wairarapa Search and Rescue and Fire and Emergency New Zealand.

One thing for sure is that the community would struggle without those who volunteered their time to benefit others.

As clinical psychologist Sherry Anderson puts it: “Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless”.

Thanks to Emma for giving permission to include her article in the Wairarapa Vollie News.

We don’t need reminding how much time effort goes into various projects around our community, we see the great results from Volunteers everywhere.

Maybe we need to be reminded not to take the efforts of our volunteers from all over the region for granted and to stop and thank more often.

Thank-you Volunteers, every one of you – you are priceless!!

Wendy Gray

DOC Masterton

Rangitāne celebrates return of beloved Pūkaha forest

8 February 2020

Article and Photos supplied By Aroha Mane te ao Maori News

Te Taperenui o Whātonga, previously known as Seventy Mile Bush, is located in the Tararua mountain range. Within this area is the Pūkaha Reserve, and today the people of Rangitānein Tāmaki-nui-a-Rua and Wairarapa celebrated a 28-year long journey as their beloved Pūkaha forest was returned to them.

Govemor-General Dame Patsy Reddy announced to the attendees, “Today we have forged a relationship with the Rangitāne people of Tāmaki-nui-a-Rua and Wairarapa. Now, Pūkaha is finally yours. “

Many from Rangitāne came to share in the occasion.”I’m really happy, extremely happy. Most of our people from Rangitāne have come today, from our grandchildren to our elders,” Rangitāneki Wairarapa spokesperson Mike Kawana says.

Tribute was paid to those who began the struggle that led to this day. “I mourn for those of our elders who aren’t with us. They were at the frontline when this all began,” Rangitāneki Tāmaki-nui-a-Rua spokesperson Manahi Paewai says.

Rangitāneki Tāmaki-nui-a-Rua chairperson Mavis Mullins shared a similar sentiment. “Feeling quite emotional really but satisfied, our people feel and look happy. It’s a significant day,” she says.

Former Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox was also pleased by the announcement but not completely satisfied.”Even though I’m happy and it’s important we celebrate this occasion, we only get it back for one year?” she asked.

Pūkaha Reserve stretches over 942 hectares and is home to the wild kökako, käkä and the white kiwi. The Rangitāne people of Tāmaki-nui-a-Rua and Wairarapa have a vision for Pūkaha’s future.

Mullins says, “The return of Pūkaha is really our ability to be at the table, it’s an intangible demonstration of tino rangatiratanga. But in the long game, it does mean that our relationship with DOC is a lot more secure, that our relationship with the wildlife trust is secured and that we can be active participants in Pūkaha.”ln the coming year, Rangitāne is seriously considering returning the reserve to the public,” Kawana says.

In addition to the return of the Pūkaha Reserve, the iwi will receive financial redress of $32.5 million, the right to purchase crown land and sites, as well an apology and acknowledgement of the treaty breaches.”The treaty’ settlements process is quite traumatising and even though we’ve received a financial redress, it’s taken forever to happen. We’ve fought for this land for so many years and the financial return is minimal,” Fox says.

Rangitānehas secured its guardianship rights over Pūkaha and will prepare for their future generations to take over.

Thanks to Aroha Mane of te ao Māori News for agreeing to let us include her article in this newsletter.

Atiwhakatu Trapping Project

Photo: Ian Bowie

15 March 2020

Article by Nigel Boniface


Over the weekend of February 15-16 twenty-two volunteers spent over 200 hours carrying out a rat monitor in the Atiwhakatu Trapping area.

There were lots of rats, over 85% of the cards showed the presence of rats, not an entirely unexpected outcome following the beech mast.

The rats must be hungry as many of the trap gas cylinders had been chewed, a few of the plastic caps, and even some of the monitor cards.

The continued efforts by the entire team on the Atiwhakatu Trapping Project is showing some great results and thank you team for your dedication.

It is proving to be a rewarding experience working on this project and we are having a few more enquiries and a few more volunteers registering and expressing interest in joining the team lead and co-ordinated by Nigel Boniface.

Waiotauru Hut

19 March 2020

Article and photos by Marcus Steenken


The old Waiotauru Hut has been well past its use-by date for many years. ft has long been threatened with removal if no-one would step up and take ownership of it.

The Akatarawa Recreational Access Committee (ARAC) has had a long relationship with the Waiotauru Valley and has held management agreements for the road for over 20 years.

As such it was only a short step for ARAC to review the future of the Hut and look at adopting it.

Sadly, it quickly became apparent that the Hut was beyond saving and the only practical solution would be a brand-new hut.

Negotiations with the Department of Conservation (DOC) began, as did the review of possible designs. Originally, ARAC favoured a steel-frame structure, but following many attempts to find a manufacturer willing to undertake such a small project, that was abandoned in favour of a more traditional structure.

So, after a major delay, consents were obtained from DOC, Building Permission lodged and finally funding from the Back-Country Trust meaning construction could begin.

Under a new Memorandum of Understanding between DOC and ARAC. Whilst the building was located on DOC administered lands, the Hut would nonetheless be owned by ARAC. This was under the stipulation that it was available for public use and could never be locked.

The Hut is not totally finished as yet, requiring the exterior to be painted, but is already proving popular with all manner of users from Hunters, Trampers and Motorised Recreational users.

Plans are afoot to build a barbeque outside using concrete blocks that ARAC has available. A wood burner is in the process of being installed and firewood will be gathered and made available on a regular basis.

Cattle Ridge Hut Open for Business

February 2020

Article by Eli Hall, photos supplied

Wairarapa Times Age

Years of hard work and restoration mean the Tararua Range is a little safer for lovers of the outdoors, thanks to the restoration of Cattle Ridge Hut. The hut, on the northern Tararua Range near Mt Bruce, was officially reopened last Saturday.

A party of 18 attended the reopening, including members of the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association, builders, past Department of Conservation staff, Amalgamated Helicopters pilots, and family of the late Tony Macklin (an advocate for the hut).

The original hut was built in 1960-1961, and by 2012 the Department of Conservation had made an “arbitrary decision” to dismantle and do away with it. However, resistance met the decision from members of the outdoors community including Macklin.

In his speech at the reopening on Saturday, NZDA Wellington branch committee member Ed Trotter acknowledged the work Macklin had put in to save the hut. “The need was met through Tony Macklin’s vision and energy to reinstate an essential asset near the top of Cattle Ridge to benefit the many users who could potentially be exposed to the elements and face life-threatening injuries. “Without Tony’s passion and mahi, we wouldn’t be here today recognising and honouring his service to the cause, this hut, and all the benefactor’s past, present and future.”

Speaking to the Times-Age on Monday, Trotter said one of the biggest things on the day was the closure for the Macklin family.

“Tony had started the project; he’d done the draughtsmanship for it — using the skeleton and putting a few extra things around it and double-glazed windows and the like and then he died suddenly in September 2016.”

A plaque dedicated to Tony Macklin was unveiled by his son Joe on Saturday.

The rebuild was funded through DOC, the Tararua Aorangi Remutaka Huts Committee and the NZDA Wellington branch as a partnership. The NZDA Wellington branch raised $70,000 for the hut’s restoration. “Of that, $35,000 was pretty much spent on helicopters —flying the gear in,” Trotter said. “The weather is so extreme you can’t build all the time —you’ve got windows between November and March each year.” With winds that can reach 140kmh battering the hut, Trotter said the hut had “massive strops on it” to hold it in place. The hut also has a wet room, a fireplace, stainless steel bench, is about a third larger than the original, and has a rainwater storage tank. Trotter said since it was rebuilt in 2018, it’s had about 100 people stay — many of whom wouldn’t usually have stayed.

“Now it’s a building fit for the purpose people are going out of their way to visit it.”

Renata Hut

December 2019

Article by Ed Trotter, Barry Durant


Jamie Hansen flew our materials and tools in on the afternoon of December 10, along with Barry Durrant (photographer) and myself. Jamie did an excellent job. The other two team members were Dave Thomas and Aaron Jack. Aaron came and went at various times and Barry left after five days.

We removed the old roof and purlins, sarked it with 12mm H3.2 ply and fitted new purlins and self-supporting building paper’ then fitted a new colour steel roof.

We replaced the windows with double glazed aluminium windows into extra-wide colour steel facings which Dave and had made earlier. We lined the interior with 12mm H3.2 ply and fitted a new stainless-steel cook bench. We improved the lean too wood-shed and put a floor in it and then cleaned the guttering and stopped the leaks in the chimney by replacing the cowling and flashing the corners. We fitted a fire surround and a few coat hooks, replacing the DOC warning signs at the same time. We tidied the rubbish up around the hut.

We worked long hard days to make the most of any fine weather. Dave and I walked out the Odlins road route after I had spent ten days at the hut and Dave seven

Each morning before work we had a job safety assessment and planning talk which we documented, and each member signed. There were no injuries or mishaps. I was fortunate to have such skilled and hard-working team members.

Ed and Dave are committing more time some time during 2020 to do some more work at the Renata Hut which is looking pretty dam good. Those visiting must be impressed at the work accomplished and DOC are certainly happy with their dedication to the Hut.

Photos by Barry Durrant

Masterton Tramping Club

February 2020

Article and photos by Nigel Boniface


Two members of Masterton Tramping Club spent a long weekend in February repainting Blue Range Hut. Using paint supplied by Dulux through their partnership with DOC, the warm weather enabled painting to start early each morning and continue until early evening.

A possible shortage of paint was rectified by Graeme Pederson carrying up an extra 4 litres of paint on Monday morning. The exterior is now ready for another Wairarapa Winter season.

Wairarapa DOC staff Henry Campbell, Hayden Barrett, Faith Dornan, Robbie Shaw and David Titchener at Santoft Forest in Manawatu

15 February 2020

Article and photos by Nigel Boniface

DOC Masterton

Five staff from the Wairarapa DOC office cut their weekend short to assist with a forest fire that raged in Manawatu on Saturday and Sunday.

The fire started at 4pm on Saturday at the Santoft Forest near Bulls and burnt through 80ha of plantation forest. It took nine helicopters, multiple water tankers and a bulldozer to get under control, before ground crews could move in and mop up the hotspots to stop any chance of the fire re-igniting.

Wairarapa staff got the call on Sunday to assist, and spent the evening preparing in order to arrive in at the fire ground first thing on Monday. The five Wairarapa staff joined a crews from DOC Manawatu and forestry companies to meticulously work across the fire-ground locating and dowsing hotspots. The crews were co-ordinated by Fire and Emergency New Zealand.

Ranger Henry Campbell says there is plenty of digging involved with stumps smouldering and burning underground that need to be dug up and exposed before dowsing with water. He says the crew look for tell-tale signs to find the problem areas. “A raised pile of ash is generally a good indicator that something has gone down and needs some attention.”

It is hot, dirty and tiring work and after two long days the Wairarapa crew were relieved and returned to normal duties. Crews continue to mop up and the fire is expected to be declared out in the next few days.

It is a timely reminder that there is a complete fire ban in place so no fires can be lit at DOC campsites. It only takes a spark to start a forest fire in the current dry conditions.

There are year-round fire restrictions on public conservation lands and no open fires are permitted during a Prohibited Fire Season. At other times you can only light fires in permanent Department of Conservation fireplaces at overnight campsite or amenity areas.

Special rules relate to backcountry cooking and warming campfires. You can refer to the FENZ website for further information https://fireandemergencv.nz/

Hayden Barrett Digging for Hot Spots

Faith Dornan delivering water to her crew

What’s Up DOC? – Wairarapa Campsites

Waiohine Gorge Campsite Tararua Forest Park

February 2020

Article and photos by Jo Waitoa, Treaty Ranger

DOC Masterton

There are six DOC campsites in the Wairarapa region which attract thousands of visitors between November and February. We see visitors from all around the country and the world and particularly enjoy connecting local people to these local treasures.

Bucks Road Campsite Tararua Forest Park

Enjoy the picturesque campsite above the Tauherenikau River set in regenerating bush. Camp at the road end or walk approx. 150 m along the track to a grassy area amongst trees. Walk the Tauherenikau Gorge track or cool off with a swim in the river. 25 non-powered/tent sites. Basic campsite – FREE.

Corner Creek Campsite Remutaka Forest Park

Just a 5-minute walk from Palliser Bay. Go fishing, surfing, walking, hunting and mountain biking. 12 non-powered/tent sites.

Holdsworth Campsite Tararua Forest Park

At the eastern park entrance beneath the Tararua Ranges. Enjoy walks, fishing and swimming nearby. There are also grassed areas for sports. 150 non-powered/tent sites.

Kiriwhakapapa Campsite Tararua Forest Park

This is a lovely family campsite beside a creek, with an old logging and exotic (redwood) forestry trial area nearby. 15 non-powered/tent sites.

Putangirua Pinnacles Campsite Putangirua Pinnacles Scenic Reserve

Situated beside the Putangirua Stream with views of Cook Strait and a pebbly beach across the road. Walk from here to the impressive Putangirua Pinnacles, or drive to the seal colony near Cape Palliser lighthouse. 50 nonpowered/tent sites.

Waiohine Gorge Campsite Tararua Forest Park

This secluded campsite is at the head of two spectacular gorges above the Waiohine River. A popular area for rafting, canoeing, swimming, and outdoor education. 50 non-powered/tent sites.

Bookings are not required for DOC campsites and are first come, first served. Apart from Bucks Road which is a free basic campsite the charges for a standard campsite are: Standard campsite – Adult (18 + years): $8 per night; Child (5 – 17 years): $4 per night; Infant (O – 4 years): free.

For more details please visit https://www.doc.govt.nz/

Seaweek Theme

DOC Wairarapa team te reo Māori lesson

11 March 2020

Article and photos by Jo Waitoa, Treaty Ranger

DOC Masterton

Seaweek is always a significant time on the DOC calendar, both at the Wairarapa office and around the country. This year Seaweek was February 29 – March 8 and we collaborated with different partners across the Wairarapa including Te Pätukituki, Enviroschools, Forest & Bird, Sustainable Wairarapa, Aratoi and Te Rua o Mahara.

Hosted by the NZ Association for Environmental Education (NZAEE), Seaweek focuses on learning about the ocean because it is so important to all our lives, no matter how far we are from it. Our rivers connect us from the mountains to the sea.

The theme for Seaweek 2020 is “Connecting With Our Seas” and the whakatauki, Ko au te moana, ko te moana ko au — I am the sea, the sea is me illustrates that well. We held two Sea Week events last week — Kai & Körero evening at Te Pätukituki in Masterton and a Tour and Beach Tidy at Lake Önoke. (Photos from our two events will be in the latest edition of What’s Up, DOC?)

Castlepoint Scenic Reserve 

Last week we also began weekly te reo Māori lessons for the entire Wairarapa district team. We started our learning with the creation narrative — from Te Korekore to the separation of Ranginui and Papatūānuku and the story of Māui and Te Ika a Māui (North Island). Did you know Wairarapa Moana or Lake Wairarapa is known as Te Karu o Te Ika a Māui? (the eye of the fish of Māui). We covered basic pronunciation, and very aptly for Seaweek, the story of Kupe and Te Wheke o Muturangi which brought the great navigator from Hawaiki to Rangiwhakaoma (Castlepoint).

Castlepoint Scenic Reserve is administered by DOC and is a significant site for both local iwi, Rangitāne o Wairarapa and Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa. Rangiwhakaoma was named by

Kupe, who was chasing the octopus of Muturangi across the expanse of Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa (Pacific Ocean) to the cave below where the lighthouse is today. The name of this cave is “Te Ana o Te Wheke o Muturangi” (the cave of the Octopus of Muturangi). The name Rangiwhakaoma means “the skies that race” owing to the nature of the clouds passing over. The hapū most closely associated with Rangiwhakaoma is Te Hika o Pāpāuma, who are descended from Kupe.

‘Wheke’ – Painting and photo by DOC Ranger Henry Campbell

We have two walks at Castlepoint: the Lighthouse Walk, a 30 minute easy walk where you can look out for fossil shells in the rock as you follow the boardwalk over the reef and past the lighthouse at Castlepoint Scenic Reserve.

Deliverance Cove Track is a 90 minute easy walk with two possible routes on this that offer spectacular views as you climb above the lagoon to the base of Matire/Castle Rock. See our website for further information about these and other coastal walks including the Pinnacles Walk and Honey Comb Rock Walkway https://www.doc.govt.nz

Recreation/Historic ranger Henry Campbell looks after Castlepoint Scenic Reserve and is also a talented artist who beautifully captures the wonder of our natural environment. His painting “Wheke” is one example of his work which he has exhibited at Con Art Gallery in Masterton.

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