Student open day and new Wildlife Trust
19 September 2011
The Tui Nature Reserve, located in the Outer Pelorus Sound in the Marlborough Sounds, held its first open day for students from Nelson and Marlborough on Saturday, September 17, 2011, in a move to educate youth about what has become an important conservation project in the upper South Island.
The reserve has been owned and managed by the Plaisier family - Brian, Ellen and their three children Leona, Liam and Esmae - for 17 years. The family has successfully transformed the peninsula from a barren, weed-ridden landscape to regenerating native bush. They also breed kakariki, geckos and giant weta with the aim of introducing these species to the peninsula.
After years of intense pest control and other conservation work to achieve where they are today, the family is now working towards the next step in their vision: Conservation education.
A major part of that was to hold an open day specifically for students from the Marlborough and Nelson region.
The Plaisiers have also formed a wildlife trust incorporating representatives from key supporters, including Ngati Kuia the Department of Conservation, the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust, the Marlborough District Council and others from the Marlborough community.
Brian Plaisier says more needed to be done to save New Zealand's wildlife.
The philosophy of the trust is "working together to save New Zealand wildlife" and to form a link between nearby landowners and conservation projects.
"The people who have come together to form this trust have extensive experience in research, science, skills in community development, practical field work and are all committed to make a difference."
One of the trust's first aims is to involve young people in conservation through youth and volunteer programmes including predator management, research and breeding of native fauna.
"The trust is building programmes to inspire and to create employment for those young people who have an interest," Brian says.
"The benefits are mutual. As well as creating awareness of the environment, participants will also learn practical knowledge and skills."
Meanwhile, the open day attracted students from Marlborough Boys' College, Marlborough Girls' College, Queen Charlotte College, Rai Valley Area School and Salisbury School.
The group of 45 people also included Kaikoura MP Colin King, Ngati Kuia representative Raymond Smith and Department of Conservation Sounds Area Manager Roy Grose.
Open Day 17 September 2011 - Conservation dog demonstration by Leona and certified rodents detection dog Chase.
The Plaisier family said the day was a great success, with all the students showing great enthusiasm for conservation and the project. They hope to make the event an annual one.
Photos are available at request.
For further information, contact:
Tui Nature Reserve Wildlife Park
Proud winner of the Marlborough Supreme Environment Award
Waitata Reach - Outer Pelorus
Marlborough Sounds Private Bag 65023
Havelock 7150 - Marlborough
Phone 00 64 27 4483447
Below is an article written by Leona Plaisier, age 16, about the open day for publication.
It has been in the planning for months. Finally the day had come and dawned with the most superb weather: The only day of the week without wind and rain.
It was the end of National Conservation Week, and a fitting introduction to our newly-formed Wildlife Trust. Five schools, the Marlborough Boys' and Girls' Colleges, Queen Charlotte College from Picton Area, Rai Valley Area school and Salisbury Girls' school from Nelson participated in the event, with a selection of students from each. Home-scholars were also part of the day.
It was an early start for all taking part on Saturday morning, with many having to drive a long way to Havelock marina or to Elaine Bay. They arrived by the charter boat 'Southern Pursuit', sponsored by NZ King Salmon, along with a boat provided by the Department of Conservation.
Two volunteers from Europe were at the Tui Nature Reserve to help get everything organised.
The day started with an introduction at our eco-accommodation cabins.
First, a speech by representative of Ngati Kuia and Trust member, Raymond Smith, took place after the students (aged between 14 and 18 years) and teachers of the visiting schools spread out on the sunny cabin lawn.
His inspiring speech of Maori heritage and involvement in the area was followed by talks from Department of Conservation Sounds Area manager, Roy Grose, and National MP for Kaikoura, Colin King. It was wonderful to see that all ages and positions were actively participating in this event.
Soon after this, the group of 45 were shown the new baby Stephens Island Giant Weta and a young Forest Gecko called Moko (meaning lizard). The students were introduced to monitoring methods and the breeding programme for educational Red Crowned Kakariki, which are housed in one of the aviaries on the reserve.
There were also talks of mammalian predators of New Zealand and how to identify them, and also of course the importance of their trapping.
The large Rimu, Matai and thriving patches of Beech forest were toured by the schools and also a visit to the two new 'Manu' (bird) ponds on the reserve. With spring-season in full swing, the abundance of wildlife and new growth in the trees was apparent thanks to persistent trapping.
The highlight for most of the students was our Rodent-Detection Dog team demonstration held by the breeding facilities. Chase the rodent dog showed the visitors how specially-trained dogs can be used for conservation purposes. Detecting scents and remnants of rodent activity in the area was a topic many were unfamiliar with.
As the day drew to a close, everyone started the walk down the hill again.
We were very pleased with the outcome and thought it to be one of the more successful open days we have hosted. The importance of getting the younger generation inspired and interested in conservation is huge, with many of the projects around in the area relying on the next generation for their future.
We are inviting all students to join our Facebook group, Tui Nature Reserve.
The Trust is keen to keep in touch with all schools for future volunteering and outdoor-skill programmes we will soon be running.