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Press Release – Greater Wellington Regional Council
A rare declaration has been placed on the nesting site of a rare bird today, when Taranaki Whānui kaumātua placed a land-based temporary rāhui at Parangarahu (Pencarrow Coast).
The rāhui encompasses around 1.7 kilometres of beach next to Pencarrow Coast Road between the Pencarrow lighthouse and the eastern end of Lake Kohangapiripiri beach where a small colony of Banded Dotterel are trying to breed above the high tide mark. Vehicle access along the 9km Pencarrow Coast Road and walking access to and around the Light House is still possible but people are asked to stay on the road and if walking on the beach, to stay below the high-tide line.
“This is one of the largest, of only a handful of coastal breeding colonies of banded dotterels in the Wellington region, with around 20 breeding pairs at this site. Unfortunately this population is under considerable pressure at the moment, with only three per cent of nests successfully hatching chicks over the past two years,” says Wellington Regional Council, Environmental Scientist, Nikki McArthur.
“Dotterel nests are extremely hard to spot so we are asking people to respect the rāhui and stay out of the birds’ nesting area from now until February. If people do need to use the road or areas around the sites we ask them to leave their dogs at home, heed the signs and take special care not to disturb the birds.”
Recent monitoring of the site carried out by the Regional Council last year included filming of nests and found the humble hedgehog to be the main predator. Feral cats also preyed on the eggs and are likely to be a significant threat to any chicks that succeed in hatching.
The Greater Wellington Regional Council Mainland Island Restoration Organisation, Hutt City Council and Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust have recently intensified a long standing predator control programme throughout the wider Parangarahu Lakes area and will continue to monitor the site over the coming season. The wider area is managed by the Roopu Tiaki which has representatives from both the Regional Council and the Trust.
Rāhui are most often used to manage fisheries. They restrict and define an area as special or sacred for a period of time. In this case the rahui is only being used to control access to
the beach area. Taranaki Whānui Kaumātua believe the nesting site of this endangered bird worthy of this protection.
“This small creature known to Māori as Pohowera is special because it is native to Aotearoa and this is one of only a few sites within our rohe (a tangata whenua area) where they still breed. These birds are recognised as being nationally vulnerable, because numbers are declining throughout Aotearoa,” Kaumatua Sam Jackson says.
“By placing a rāhui over this important site, we are doing our bit to ensure the Dotteral will still be around for our mokopuna. It is our duty to place and honour this rāhui and is a blessing that we are still able to do this. We still have time to save these special birds and we do this by making this a special place.”
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