Over eighty covenantors and representatives from the Department of Conservation, Fish and Game and Forest and Bird enjoyed morning tea with QEII directors and staff at Tukurua Swamp near Takaka and a tour of three Golden Bay covenants on 12 May.
Owned by Gerard Hindmarsh and Melanie Walker, Tukurua Swamp was protected with a 1.4ha covenant in 1988.
With vegetation ranging from swamp flax and Baumea rushes to ferns and native herbs, the wetland is habitat for fernbirds (matata) and the threatened freshwater fish, the giant kokopu.
Left: Sir Brian Lochore, QEII Chairperson, and Philip Lissaman, the local QEII Regional Representative, welcomed guests to Golden Bay and the tour of three local covenants.
At the gathering, Sir Brian Lochore said over 2,500 hectares in the Nelson-Tasman region are protected with 129 registered and 23 approved covenants.
‘The number of covenants nationwide is increasing by 200 a year,’ said Sir Brian.
‘I am overwhelmed by the generosity of landowners such as those in Nelson and Tasman who are protecting their special areas for the benefit of future generations.
‘I am often asked about the covenanting process. To anyone thinking of protecting their land with a QEII covenant, I suggest visiting local covenantors to find out what is involved and to see the wonderful work being done to preserve our natural heritage forever.’
Above: Covenantors from Nelson and Tasman and others involved with QEII gathered at Tukurua Swamp to meet Sir Brian Lochore and other QEII directors.
Philip Lissaman, the local QEII Regional Representative, said thirty-five covenants including the 145ha Mangarakau Swamp covenant owned by NZ Native Forests Restoration Trust protect forest remnants, shrublands and wetlands in Golden Bay.
‘A benefit of protecting natural habitats with covenants is that as well as preserving some of the rare species already there, plants that were once present can also be reintroduced,’ he said.
‘The three covenants on this tour are showcases of our region’s unique and diverse biodiversity.
'They are wonderful examples of how native plants and wildlife thrive when looked after by committed landowners, in some cases involving extensive weed control.’
Gerard Hindmarsh came to Tukurua when he was nineteen, attracted by the lifestyle and the potential of the creek and swamp.
‘I was a back-to-the-land homesteader and ready to drain the swamp for farming but Graeme Elliott, a scientist, found fernbirds in the swamp and pointed out that it was one of the last coastal swamps left in the Bay,’ he said.
‘I decided not to drain the swamp and cancelled the digger booked for the next morning.
'My appreciation of the swamp has grown over the years as it’s so productive at all times of the day.’
Above: Gerard Hindmarsh recounted how finding fernbirds set him on the path to restoring the swamp. Find out more about the impact the swamp has had on Gerard’s life in his book Swamp fever.
Above: QEII directors and covenantors took the opportunity to stroll along boardwalks constructed by Gerard through harakeke flax, manuka and coprosma in Tukurua Swamp.
Some were fortunate to catch fleeting glimpses of fernbirds and banded kokopu.
Left: Jack Cropp, who gifted the one hectare Tata Headland property to QEII in 1996, with Sir Brian Lochore.
Just north of Takaka, guests enjoyed a walk through coastal beech and podocarp forest in the 41ha Soper’s Hill covenant protected by Frank and Berna Soper on their Beinn Dobhrain property in 1998.
Left: Frank and Berna Soper with Sir Brian Lochore.
Above: The Soper’s Hill covenant reaches from Waitapu Estuary to the ridgeline, protecting a sequence of coastal plants from sedges and rushes to kowhai and kanuka to beech, rimu, kawaka and tanekaha. A diverse range of fern species and numerous orchids flourish in the forest.
Above: The covenant is habitat for the grass-tree Dracophyllum urvilleanum (Naturally Uncommon). Shannel Courtney from the Department of Conservation described its features.
The fine weeping leaves of this species gives it a distinctive open, lacy appearance. The broad juvenile leaves distinguishes it from the more common Dracophyllum filifolium with which it sometimes grows.
It is endemic to Nelson and North Marlborough where it is typically a coastal to lowland species.
The largest concentrations now occur along the Westhaven, Abel Tasman National Park and Marlborough Sounds coastlines where black beech and hard beech forest still extends to the water’s edge.
Left: Greg Napp from the Department of Conservation checked out a trapped stoat – a successful outcome of the Sopers’ pest management plan.
For more about the Soper's Hill covenant, download this article (PDF, 1.7MB) from Open SpaceTM Issue 43, December 1998.
Shannel Courtney, the 2008 recipient of the Loder Cup, New Zealand’s premier conservation award, put his 6.6ha Te Hapua covenant in place at Pohara in 1992.
With over 150 native vascular plant species, the northern rata forest is habitat for species such as fierce lancewood Pseudopanax ferox, large-leaved milktree Streblus banksii, native germander Teucridium parvifolium and limestone kowhai Sophora longicarniata.
‘I purchased the property twenty years ago to have a chance to bring bush back to its former glory,’ Shannel said.
‘Being on limestone with a warm climate and fertile soils, there were a lot of weed species here including the worst infestation of old man’s beard in Golden Bay and two hectares of wandering willie along with barberry, hawthorn, banana passionfruit, yellow jasmine and climbing asparagus.
‘The best way to handle a big weed control project is to prioritise things and focus on bite size chunks,’ Shannel advised. ‘It’s then achievable.
'The first thing I did was tackle the climbing weeds by slashing them and then applying Roundup®.
'Now the bush is pretty much weed free.’
Above: Shannel Courtney described how he cleared the once abundant invasive weeds from his covenant.
Restoring bush also helps to bring back native wildlife. Shannel has recently seen a pair of falcons (karearea) at Te Hapua.
Above: With an outlook overlooking the entrance to Pohara Valley, Te Hapua covenant protects what is now a rare vegetation type - coastal rata on limestone.
Published 19 May 2010