CI Conservation Board Meeting – 10th Feb 2021

Chatham Island Conservation Board Meeting Rangihaute / Rangiauria / Pitt Island, 10 February 2021

Mana Cracknell, Peter de Lange, and Department of Conservation (DOC) staff boarded the Acheron at Owenga for a moderately lumpy journey to Rangihaute / Rangiauria / Pitt Island. Prior to holding the board meeting at Flowerpot Lodge, Mana and Peter were taken for a tour of Ellen Elizabeth Preece Conservation Covenant (also known as “Caravan Bush”) by Tryphena Cracknell, and DOC Rangers Erin Patterson and Tom Hitchon. The board were shown the Chatham Island Petrel (Pterodroma axillaris) ‘petrel cities’ where a number of birds obliging showed us themselves and in a few cases their eggs. A Chatham Island tui (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae chathamensis) also impressed the board by singing just above their heads. Perhaps less visually impressive and so under-appreciated but still very interesting was the discovery of the Chatham Island endemic lichen Lecanora kohu, on ribbonwood (Plagianthus regius subsp. chathamensis) and hakapiri / akeake (Olearia traversiorum) in the forest. This lichen had hitherto been found on Hokorereoro / Rangatira / South East Island in 2015, and then on Rekohu / Wharekauri / Chatham Island in 2018 but not on Rangihaute / Rangiauria / Pitt Island. It was expected to be found there and now it has been.

Following the field trip, the board convened for the meeting at Flowerpot Lodge, in attendance were Judy Kamo (Chair), Mana Cracknell, Di Gregory-Hunt, Peter de Lange, Amanda Seymour (by phone), Tryphena Cracknell and Jilleen Chandler. Apologies were received for Trescia Lawson and Susan Thorpe. The most pressing business discussed was the need to revise and update the draft sections of the Chatham Island Conservation Management Strategy (CMS). The current version in use was published in 1999 so is seriously out of date. Prior to the meeting Susan Thorpe had reviewed the draft sections prepared by DOC staff, and noted where comment had or had not been provided by board members. She outlined a process which the board is now actively engaged in completing, so that when resources become available from National Office, DOC, the CMS can be completed. Detailed discussion on Chatham Predator Free 2050 was also undertaken, with the board welcoming the new appointment of Hamish Chisholm to the role of coordinator for that venture. Amanda Seymour provided a brief overview of the Chatham Island nurseries, their plans for plant propagation, how they are coordinated, and who they report to. Discussion on seed collection, and indeed how to recognise viable seed from defunct was entered in, with Tryphena announcing that the new Flora person Tom Hitchon is preparing a document to assist islanders.

For the ‘Meet the Rangers’ session the board was treated to an entertaining and illuminating korero from Andrea Rix and Craig Harrison about working on Rangihaute / Rangiauria / Pitt Island. Andrea told the board of her participation in field work with Seabird Scientists on Hokorereoro / Rangatira / South East Island, and Mang’re / Mangere, a field trip that included the discovery on Mang’re / Mangere of a great shearwater (Puffinus gravis). Craig then explained the joys of fencing, and noted that 150 feral cats have been killed in their two and bit years of being on the island. Both Andrea and Craig are enjoying their work on the island, and the people especially. Di in turn expressed her delight in their presence on the island, noting that a regular DOC presence was long overdue.

The meeting concluded with a karakia at 5 pm. This was followed by an excellent dinner from our hosts at Flowerpot Lodge Bernie and Brent Malinson.

The next board meeting will be held at Kaingaroa on 21 April during which time the board will visit Taia.

Associate Professor (Botany, Ecology, Plant Conservation, Biosystematics) at Unitec in Auckland and a former Department of Conservation scientist. Peter has been visiting the Chatham Islands since 1996 and is a current member of the Chatham Islands Conservation Board.