CI Conservation Board Meeting – 25 June 2021 – Te One

The June 25 Chatham Island Conservation Board Meeting was probably the longest the board has had in several years. Starting at 9.30 am, with a one hour lunch break, the board pushed on until 5.35 pm there were so many topics and issues to deal with. In attendance were Chair Judy Kamo and board members Amanda Seymour, Trescia Lawton, Susan Thorpe, Di Gregory-Hunt and Peter de Lange, Mana was unable to attend but presented on a session toward the end of the meeting using Microsoft Teams. Also, in attendance for some of the meeting was Keri Moir from the Chatham Island Biosecurity branch of Environment Canterbury, Hamish Tuanui-Chisholm, Chatham Island Co-ordinator of the Landscape Restoration Group and Predator Free 2050.   and Matthew Russell from the Treaty Negotiations Unit of the Department of Conservation, Head Office, Wellington

At the onset of the meeting Judy Kamo informed the board that this would be her last meeting, as Chair and Board Member, adding to Amanda Seymour who had already informed the board late last year that she was not seeking reappointment at the end of her term in June 2021. This leaves Trescia Lawton, Mana Cracknell and Di Gregory-Hunt as confirmed members, whilst Susan Thorpe and Peter de Lange were still waiting to hear whether they had been reappointed by the Minister of Conservation. After some discussion it was agreed to appoint Peter de Lange as Chair (interim) until the new board is appointed.

Following these discussions, the board heard a detailed report from the Department of Conservation of the last few months activities. The board notes a need for the new incoming board to participate more widely in a range of other island environmental agencies, groups and projects, including Predator Free 2050 and Jobs for Nature. Issues about determining what are appropriate indigenous plants for island nurseries to raise were discussed, with the board electing to arrange a future meeting with the island’s nursery owners to consider risks posed by planting species indigenous to Aotearoa / New Zealand but not the Chatham Islands. Concerns over the resourcing of the Department of Conservation to maintain and increase Aotearoa / New Zealand populations of shore plover were also discussed.

Just before the board stopped for lunch Hamish  spoke about progress on the islands’ Predator Free 2050 initiative. The board agreed that Hamish should, as and when he see’s the need attend future board meetings. Following Hamish’s informative talk, the board heard from Keri Moir who outlined progress with weed control, notably the ongoing battle with Chilean rhubarb (Gunnera tinctoria). She also noted the worrying find of a Queen German Wasp (Vespula germanica) which is assumed to have come in with a shipment of timber from Aotearoa / New Zealand. Keri outlined the planned course of action to ensure that this wasp incursion is not the harbinger of new wasp nests on the islands. Keri also routinely attends board meetings.

Following lunch, the board dived back into the very full agenda listening to an excellent treaty presentation from Matthew Russell who explained to the board the process for treaty settlements, and then outlined the Moriori Deed of Settlement and how that related to Public Conservation Land access and management. Following Matthew’s presentation, the board listened to the Options Development Committee via Microsoft Teams. That committee to which board member Mana Cracknell has been co-opted give an enlightening  account of conservation issues throughout Aotearoa / New Zealand which intrigued and fascinated board members. The final phase of the meeting was to review the board’s annual report, work plan and plan for a new meeting date. The meeting will be at Kōpinga Marae on August 6th.

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.