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Newsletter       Autumn / Winter 2016

Thank you to all our new and old Friends of Nga Manu for your wonderful support. We apologise for the delay in releasing our newsletter this time around. There have been many exciting changes and things happening at Nga Manu, including a new Manager coming on board. We are still in the process of updating our operating systems and one of these changes is our plan to release a quarterly newsletter for each season, instead of the biannual one. For those of you not on Facebook, it will allow you to keep more up to date with our news and each issue will relate directly to a particular season. It is our intention to produce this newsletter on email as well as posting a copy on our website. We now have less than a dozen members currently receiving a hard-copy newsletter and we are keen to reduce our printing costs further by printing those in-house.   

This is a bumper issue of our Newsletter as it spans the last 9 months! We hope you enjoy it and look forward to sharing our new seasonal newsletters with you in the future. 
We are proud to announce that we have been awarded a TripAdvisor 2016 Certificate of Excellence. This award recognises that Nga Manu Nature Reserve has consistently achieved outstanding traveler reviews on TripAdvisor. Thank you to everyone who has written us a positive review and helped us to win this award! If you would like to write us a review you can do so here.

A Final Word from Dave Banks...

A change of family circumstances means that I am writing my last newsletter to you all. I resigned at the end of March to look after my elderly mother, who was moving in to live with Jaana and myself at home. This was not an easy decision to reach but from a family perspective was the right thing to do. Sadly mother died before she could move in with us and a new manager to replace me had been appointed. 

It has been a very eventful and full on year and a half that I shall look back on with fond memories! My last six to eight months raced by with typical speed and a flurry of summer visitors in some truly amazing weather. The Reserve experienced some odd seasonality and very high temperatures. Interestingly though, and with 35+ mm of rain mid-March, and more in April and May, our ponds and vegetation did not dry out as much as last year.

Visitor numbers have been steady over the summer, and especially over Christmas and the school holidays. Easter was particularly busy with free entry for children, and loads of fun was had by all! Our Easter Bunny Hunt was won by 3 year old William and many families enjoyed egg hunts in the Reserve. 
  
There was definitely a reduction in local visitors over the springtime, perhaps as a reflection of the very evident expressway works on our door step. The new Ngarara Road bridge has been commissioned, and hopefully a few more locals will combine a drive over the new route with a visit to the haven that is Nga Manu Reserve. M2PP (the Expressway Alliance) have kept us well apprised of developments and provided us with additional information resources for public edification. M2PP also donated three 5 metre lengths of H beam piling that has formed a new bridge foundation near our eel pond to access land on the other side of the stream. Other than some extra machinery noise and dust and a rather rough access road at present, we seem to have been unaffected by the works; and yes, our forest spring is still flowing! So take a walk into the grounds to see the birds and then be transported into another world with a wander around the sanctuary of our old forest.  

The birds and reptiles are our big draw cards here at Nga Manu. In May we took possession of a lovely young male kiwi called Puha from Rotorua who is settling well into our nocturnal house and a young female bird will be paired up with Puha. It is also great to know that both McMurdo and Kowhai (our males who moved on to new breeding grounds last year) have found successful futures for themselves.
 
The Transmission Gully reptiles are doing well, and the young tuatara from VUW, have settled into their temporary home, all digging their own burrows in the enclosures. We have had additional excitement with young born to some of our display geckos too, always a bonus.
 
The butterfly garden has been amazing this summer with a miasmic cloud of monarch butterflies over it for months. Children have enjoyed learning about the butterfly life cycle and helping to release the butterflies. We have been successful in establishing various nettle species and have been excited to discover both red and yellow admiral caterpillars feeding on them. It is wonderful to see these rarer and threatened butterfly species at Nga Manu.
 
Bird rescue and rehabilitation plays a significant, but largely unfunded part in daily operations at Nga Manu, so donations to this programme are always greatly received. Another takahe, called Blitzen was brought to us from Mana Island and has been cared for at Nga Manu. Blitzen is recovering slowly from neurological problems (possibly caused by ingesting something he shouldn't have) and seems to be improving well. Amazing birds! We cared for many tui and kereru brought in over the late spring and summer, as well as numerous orphan ducklings and pukeko chicks.
A highlight of my time at Nga Manu came in March, when a member of the public brought in a bedraggled spotless crake that had been rescued from drowning in the Ohau River. Fortunately, after a night drying off and eating some live food, this beautiful bird was able to be released into crake habitat at Nga Manu. Such cryptic, small and quick moving birds. In the past I have only heard them calling once or twice and convinced myself (maybe!) that I had seen one scurry away out of the corner of my eye, and so to see one close up was a real thrill. 

Education for our visitors especially school children plays a significant part in Nga Manu’s year. I see this expanding further in the near future, either with informed school visits to the Reserve, or via our social media and website. The positive feedback from the Nga Manu/Mahara Gallery workshop on bird adaptations in conjunction with the Philipp Family Foundation is a testament to the success of education programmes like this, and certainly something that I endorse fully. I have really enjoyed the opportunity to engage in this programme and have loved the children’s enthusiasm and interest in what is being presented.
 
Many very positive things have happened in the relatively short time I have been at Nga Manu, including a new and vibrant website, establishing a presence on Facebook, new accounting (Xero) and till operation (Vend), a reptile house upgrade, donated new tractors, trailer and shed, and aviary upgrades. Also of note, the activities between Nga Manu and other Nature Connection partners, which have brought about a widening of our profile in the Greater Wellington region and a number of good links forged with other Partner sites.
 
And for our Friends of Nga Manu! Membership has nearly tripled with now over 160 family and individual members. Thank you for your valuable contribution and support throughout the year; it is great to see many repeat visits from you and your friends. I hope membership continues to grow and perhaps in the not too distant future a ‘legacy’ option can be introduced for people wishing to donate and support the Reserve on a regular basis.
 
To our Facebook fans: it has been great to tell our story and provide you with exciting snippets from our daily activities and events and to receive your comments back. You have been and will continue to be a wonderful and encouraging audience. 

 
The launch of the new website as I leave is a testament to the hard work behind-the-scenes of a number of staff and volunteers who have put in time assisting with ideas, creating content and editing, but the big gold star goes to Sarah for her perseverance in getting this job done. The site looks wonderful with spectacular images and information to browse.
 
A huge thank you to my staff and the volunteers and guides, who provide such invaluable ongoing support. A big thanks also to all those generous people who have donated in other ways to the Reserve. Your contribution, in whatever form it takes, provides security to this local Kapiti Coast treasure.
 
I trust that this impetus at Nga Manu can be maintained into the future, and I wish the new manager Matu Booth well in his new and exciting role.

Staff and Volunteers had a special leaving party to say goodbye to Dave.

Dave - your legacy will forever remain deep inside our hearts - the memories of working with an inspirational Manager like you never go away. Thank you for all your guidance and support and for your constant dedication to all the staff, volunteers and wildlife at Ngā Manu. We hope that you enjoy your next adventure in life.

Introducing Our New Manager Matu Booth...

Time has flown – I can hardly believe that I’ve been at Nga Manu since the beginning of June. The shortest day has come and gone and these last few days have felt like the thin end of the Spring wedge. I’ve now had enough contact with our regular volunteers to feel that I’ve really landed among friends.

For those of you who I’ve yet to meet, here's a quick Bio... The previous fifteen years of my work life were spent at Zealandia, involved with the day to day conservation effort. The opportunity to work with so many different species in such a short time period meant the job was all about learning on the job – but what an opportunity! The accent of my job changed continuously throughout my time there – I was the predator dog handler in the days when the then Karori Wildlife Sanctuary had a dog. I was involved in the 
translocation and post-release monitoring of many of the species which were reintroduced to the valley – kiwi, bellbird, tomtit, kaka, hihi, robins, kakariki, tuatara, giant weta – each with their unique set of challenges.

I’m one of those fortunate or sad folk (depending on your view) whose work and leisure often meld into one. Many holidays have been hijacked by packing my sound recorder and then planning picnics just for the sake of recording a particular songbird. In fact the sounds of the natural world have been, and continue to be, one of my great motivations for exploring new places. Bird-work (being part of translocation teams on Hauturu, volunteering for the Kakapo Recovery Team on Whenua Hou) has allowed me to visit some extraordinary places.

There is such an exciting new world of biodiversity and relationships to discover here in Nga Manu’s forest and wetlands. I shall look forward to sharing my stories with you in our new seasonal newsletter. 
Our Nature Connections Partnership

The 'Wellington Wild Things' Campaign has been a wonderful success. Hundreds of visitors have found our monster Manu, with some families visiting all 10 Nature Connections Partners and finding all the monsters! The monster hunt will continue across Wellington this summer with them all taking up new hiding places. Find out more about the Wild Things here.
In April we hosted a Nature Connections training workshop with the motivational speaker John Pastorelli, who was over from Australia for the International INNZ (Interpretation Network of New Zealand) Conference. Sarah Rusholme (founder of Nature Connections and advisor to Wellington Zoo) also gave the staff an overview of the project and partnership. It was great for our staff to meet and network with people from our other eco assets and everyone enjoyed themselves. 
In May we got together with Zealandia, Staglands and Pukaha Mt Bruce at the Wellington's Better Home and Living Show at the Westpac Stadium to showcase Nature Connections. It was a great opportunity to tell the public about how our fantastic Wellington eco-assets are working together to protect, preserve and showcase the region's unique environment. Find out more about Nature Connections here.

Te whenua, the land

Our annual Education Programme in conjunction with Mahara Gallery and the Philipp Family Foundation had the theme Te Whenua. 180 Children from Paraparaumu Beach School attended this years programme at Nga Manu, presented by Rhys Mills, over 3 workshop days. The Children then enjoyed Mahara Gallery workshops and these were followed with sessions by Otaki-based artist Michelle Backhouse, poet Lindsay Rabitt and rapper/film maker Te Kupu. The children have developed wonderful artwork and poetry inspired by the theme and you can now enjoy them on display at Mahara Gallery until October 9th.

Around the Reserve

Meet Ātaahua. She is a 10 month old female North Island Brown Kiwi. She has come to us from Orana Wildlife Park and her name is the Māori word for beautiful - which is very fitting indeed! We hope to pair her with our male kiwi Puha towards the end of this year.
The new entrance to our Butterfly garden is really starting to take shape! Thank you to our staff and team of volunteers who have worked on this project and thank you to the very generous Friend of Nga Manu who funded it. We look forward to sharing more progress with you soon.
A huge thank you to all the volunteers who braved the cold, wet weather on our August planting day. We were amazed that within 2 hours we managed to get 600 plants in the ground. A fantastic effort all round - Well done! We look forward to watching the hillside change.
A huge thank you to everyone who has helped us or made donations in the past
6-9 months. We really appreciate you! 
Copyright © 2016 Nga Manu Nature Reserve, All rights reserved.


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