Private landowners in Wellington who protect natural features with QEII covenants were acknowledged for their generosity by Sir Brian Lochore on 16 September at Pikarere Farm in Titahi Bay.
Left: In the new woolshed at Pikarere Farm, QEII Chairperson Sir Brian Lochore thanked Wellington covenantors for their generosity and contributions to protecting New Zealand’s natural heritage for future generations.
A family farm for 60 years, Pikarere Farm is an 810 hectare sheep and beef farm with 5,500 stock units.
With five kilometres of coastline, the farm has spectacular views to Mana and Kapiti Islands and to Mt Taranaki on a clear day.
QEII National Trust helps private landowners to protect significant natural and cultural features on their land through open space covenants in perpetuity.
The covenantors and others involved with the Trust were invited to the farm along with representatives from the Greater Wellington Regional Council, Wellington and Porirua City Councils and the Department of Conservation to meet QEII directors and staff.
They also enjoyed a tour of the farm for an overview of a kohekohe forest remnant that is in the process of being protected with a QEII covenant.
Sir Brian said a QEII covenant is a legally binding protection agreement that is registered on the title of the land.
'It is voluntary but once in place it protects the area forever,' he said.
‘In my time with QEII, I’ve been privileged to meet so many generous covenantors who care about their country and who are doing such a fantastic job for New Zealand.
‘I noticed how well this land is cared for as soon as we came on to the farm. The work the Stevenson family is doing is a prime example of how to look after our land.
‘Private landowners who care about their land continue to approach us and we are looking forward to protecting even more bush and wetlands with QEII covenants.’
Above: Dan Stevenson welcomed the guests to the family farm.
‘My father acquired the farm in 1950,’ he said. ‘Other than an old woolshed, it was very much a bare farm and the family has developed it to the economic unit you see today.
‘Protecting the bush with a covenant is part of our farm management.
'Fencing the gully to keep the stock out has improved the water quality on the farm as well as helping the bush to regenerate.’
Above: Among those who gathered at the Pikarere Farm woolshed to meet Sir Brian Lochore and other QEII directors were Dr Jan Wright, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, and Dr Grant Blackwell (centre, front row).
Peter Ettema, QEII Wellington Regional Representative, said forest remnants, wetlands, harakeke flaxlands, manuka and kanuka shrublands and revegetation projects are just some of the features protected locally with covenants.
‘The area ranges from Otaki to Wellington to Eastbourne to Upper Hutt,’ he said.
‘Nearly 130 covenants from 0.02 hectares in size in urban Wellington to the largest of 85 hectares in Porirua protect more than 1,000 hectares in total.
'There are many special hidden places in Wellington that are ideal to protect with QEII covenants.’
Left: Conor English, Federated Farmers Chief Executive, with Yvonne Sharp, QEII Deputy Chairperson.
Above: QEII covenantors and other guests enjoyed a tour of Pikarere Farm on the Wellington coast.
Above: Sir Brian Lochore, QEII Chairperson, and Margaret McKee, QEII Chief Executive, with the kohekohe remnant in the background that is in the process of being protected with an open space covenant.
Above and left: A distinctive characteristic of kohekohe Dysoxylum spectabile is that both the flowers and seed capsules grow directly from the trunk or branches, a feature more commonly associated with tropical forest species.
Kohekohe forest used to be common in coastal and lowland areas in the lower North Island but now is found only in a few reserves at Colonial Knob in Porirua and Hemi Matenga near Waikanae and in small remnants such as the one on Pikarere Farm.
The Trust works closely with the Department of Conservation and regional and district councils to protect our natural heritage.
John Sawyer from the Department of Conservation explained that small areas like the kohekohe forest remnant on Pikarere Farm can be extremely significant for biodiversity conservation.
‘Some remnants support threatened species and most contribute to landscape interconnectedness, allowing species movement and gene flow,’ he said.
‘There are many threatened species in the surrounding landscape including the large leaved milk tree Streblus banksii and the shrimp flowered greenhood Pterostylis porrecta in forests, the pygmy button daisy Leptinella nana in grasslands and forest and the hot rock fern Pleurosorus rutifolius on cliffs.
‘The Biodiversity Condition and Advice fund provides support to landowners to develop restoration plans for forest remnants or implement protection work such as fencing, weeding, animal pest control and planting.'
Above: John Sawyer explained why small forest fragments such as the kohekohe remnant are critical to the survival of our biodiversity.
‘The Greater Wellington Regional Council classifies the area being protected with a covenant as a Key Native Ecosystem (KNE) which means it is eligible for assistance with pest control.
Robyn Smith, Community Biodiversity Coordinator at the Council, said that as well as being an important link between Kapiti and Mana Islands and other remnants such as John and Christina Carrad's 8.4ha covenant in Pukerua Bay, this stand of kohekohe is an important food source for kereru.
‘There are very few stands of kohekohe forest remaining on the Wellington coast and QEII covenants are an ideal way to protect them,’ she said.
Published 22 September 2009