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Newsletter           Spring/Summer 2016

Welcome to our first online, seasonal newsletter - we hope you enjoy it !

A Word from Matu...

What a Spring (earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, and road works!) During my first six months I’ve been gradually coming up to speed with the rhythms of the worlds of Nga Manu – the world of the Reserve and the world of my office. For those of you who know the Reserve far more intimately than I, you won’t need to be told that our entrance road has reached peak confusion over the last few months. But the end is in sight – our local road has reopened as Nga Manu Reserve Road and will be tar-sealed by the end of January. And suddenly we will be an accessible drop in for a whole new audience. I don’t know that any of us can predict just how visitation will increase but the consensus is that Nga Manu should be prepared for much busier times.

There has been an influx of birdlife in the new adjacent wetlands to the expressway and as the project nears completion – Pied Stilt, Welcome Swallow, Canada Geese, and Paradise Shelduck have all moved in quickly to stake their claims.
Since arriving I’ve been aware that there has been another influx which I’ve often heard commented upon – that’s the insinuation of the Azolla upon the ponds. Probably first transported by waterfowl, it has carpeted the water right through winter. In the past its presence has been seasonal but it looks like it has consolidated its place in our ecosystem. Although its presence is generally beneficial (It is a food source for waterflowl, provides a habitat for fish, insects and other small organisms, It discourages blue-green algal blooms, restricts the growth of exotic aquatic plants and prevents mosquito larvae surfacing for air - so is a biological mosquito control), It does have a possible negative effect and that is to limit the light and oxygen available to other aquatic life so we’ll monitor its persistence with interest.

Another visitor, but one that I’m more familiar with from my Zealandia days, has been kaka – a group of two or three birds have been heard and seen regularly passing over the Reserve since late winter. There was even a day when the flowering kowhai dragged a passing bird down to feed on nectar.

The Reserve has been host to familiar spring sights of the young and gormless – black swan goslings, Canadian goslings, pukeko and tui chicks, – the incessant calls of cuckoo chicks have been heard– and along with these familiar signals of spring, we have seen the expected influx of injured and orphaned birds brought into Nga Manu for us to care for and rehabilitate. This has continued to be the case as we head into summer. 
Thank you to all the Friends of Nga Manu, volunteers, staff and trustees who attended our Annual General Meeting on the 2nd November. Dr Catherine Knight (who is one of our Nga Manu Trustees) was our guest speaker and we hope everyone enjoyed her talk on her new book New Zealand's Rivers: An Environmental History, as much as we did. We are excited to announce that Catherine has made it onto the 2017 Ockham NZ Book Awards longlist! This is a wonderful achievement. We hope to have signed copies of the book available in our shop soon, but you can order a copy of the book now by clicking here.

Z.A.A Visit

In November we received a visit from a vagrant species from Australia – Representatives of ZAA (Zoo and Aquarium Association). They came to appraise our policy and procedures for delivering welfare to our captive species. The species chosen for assessment were kiwi, kea, tuatara, whio and gecko. We are delighted to report that the feedback has been very encouraging. The visit, and the self-assessment component of the process has stimulated a lot of behind scenes discussion about the potential for our captive husbandry and rehabilitation programmes in the future.
Due to some good planning and the relentless drive of our gang of regular volunteer builders the ZAA reps were able to view some of our new Tuatara enclosures complete with their new residents. One aspect, which drew a special mention from ZAA – was how fortunate we are to have a long-standing relationship with our vet, Andrea Wilson – it’s a relationship which we never take for granted nor undervalue. Here she is with Rhys Mills giving a kiwi a check-up.

Around the Reserve

Tuatara Upgrade
Our Tuatara enclosures upgrade has been completed (made possible by a bequest from Grace Suckling) and not only improves the conditions for the animals but also the viewing opportunities for visitors. Grace Suckling was a founding volunteer guide at Nga Manu. On July 20th 2015 she passed away in Waikanae at the grand age of 93 years. Grace's interest in biological science, particularly in tuatara, shone through in her interaction with people. The upgrade started in July this year and was opened on 20th December.
Grace's daughter Alison and her husband Clive were honorary guests at the opening and released a tuatara into it's new home. A second animal was released by one of our volunteers who worked on the construction of the enclosures. We would like to say a huge thank you to all the Nga Manu staff and volunteers who have assisted with this project and also thank the volunteers from Conservation Volunteers New Zealand for their help with the construction. The new enclosures look fantastic and the animals are enjoying them! 
Kaka and Kea
We are fortunate to have had a visit from Julia Loepelt, who recently completed her PhD research into kaka cognition at Zealandia. Julia has spent time observing our kaka and kea and will be working with us to investigate and suggest opportunities for behavioural enrichment. Our male kea Jimmy took fondly to Julia and enjoyed investigating her backpack! We are excited to have this opportunity to work with Julia and look forward to implementing her proposals.
In our last newsletter we mentioned that we were embarking on the delicate process of settling our two new juvenile kiwi into their Nocturnal House. They’re now at the stage of chaperoned first encounters -under the watchful eyes of staff and volunteers. The gate between their enclosures is removed on chosen days so the initial forays can be undertaken – our job is to make sure that no grievous bodily harm is committed on the pathway to a lasting bond.

 At the beginning of October, we initiated a new kiwi diet which is being adopted as a national standard across all institutions which hold kiwi. Apart from being an advance in nutrition, the consistency of diet will make it easier for birds to settle when they’re transferred between institutions. The main difference is that the birds are now being offered a mixture based on lean beef rather than ox heart – expensive tastes, our kiwi!
We currently have 4 kiwi at Nga Manu and It costs us $2 a day to feed each bird. We’re hoping to connect with individuals, or businesses willing to sponsor our kiwi’s lifestyles.
Pest Control
Pest control has always been one of the core tasks undertaken at the Reserve. Volunteers check 29 traps on a weekly basis. In October, one of our Trustees, Jean Fleming, donated $5000 to go towards the purchase of self-setting GoodNature traps – her generous grant acknowledges that pest control needs to be addressed at a landscape level and recognises that Nga Manu is part of a wider KNE (Key Native Ecosystem) which includes Jack’s Bush. This trapping effort will be a collaborative effort with Greater Wellington.

Volunteers at Nga Manu 

In October we had a changing of the guard when Judy Child stood down from the responsibilities of training and rostering the volunteer guides. She will continue to be involved but the main responsibilities have been taken up by John Lewin. We would like to say a huge thank you to Judy for her constant dedication and commitment - she has been our Lead Guide here at Nga Manu for the last 12 years.
Our Nature Connections Partnership
Nga Manu again took part in Wellington’s Spring Festival, explorer themed ‘Kids Day Out’ event in the Botanical gardens. Despite the average weather, over 500 children took part in the scavenger hunt and our activities stand was very busy all day. Thank you to our staff and volunteers who took part. 
The monster hunt continues across Wellington this summer with all 10 monsters taking up new hiding places! If you are visiting Nga Manu with children they will enjoy searching for our monster Manu. Find out more about the Wellington Wild Things here.

This December Nga Manu became a part of the Department of Conservation's 'Kiwi Guardians' program, sponsored by Toyota. Children are able to discover awesome Kiwi Guardians adventures all around Wellington. At Nga Manu children can hunt for the Guardians Post, enter the secret code word online and receive a prize medal and certificate in the mail.
Learn more about the Toyota Kiwi Guardians programme by watching this short video. 
Toyota Kiwi Guardians

In Memoriam

We’ve experienced two sad losses among our community of supporters. On 13th November Jean Luke passed away after a short illness – Jean was involved with Nga Manu since the early days and planted many of the trees in the arboretum. Earlier on 9th September William (Bill) Moore passed away. He was known to many of our trustees, staff and volunteers and was a great supporter and friend of Nga Manu – a place he really loved. He always seemed young at heart, despite being close to becoming a Centenarian - he was 99 years, 9 months and 6 days old on the day of his passing. We offer our sympathies and condolences to both their families. 

Things to look out for this summer...

Can you spot a wild kaka? They have been heard and sighted close to the Information Centre and on the forest loop walk. 
The beautiful Ileostylus micranthus (green mistletoe) is in flower. Look out for it on the lookout track and opposite our Butterfly Garden. 
In the summer months our Butterfly Garden becomes a living confetti! Look out for our monarch butterfly display in the Information Centre.
Our staff would like to wish each and every one of you a happy holiday and new year!

Thank you to the Philipp Family Foundation, the Nikau Foundation, Goodmans, Conservation Volunteers New Zealand, MenzShed, Bohanna Motors and Raumati Veterinary Centre for all your support. We would like to say a special thank you to everyone who has gifted Nga Manu generous donations, their time, effort or help in 2016.
Brochures are now available in our Information Centre for weddings and corporate functions - please help us spread the word! 
Copyright © 2016 Nga Manu Nature Reserve, All rights reserved.

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