In 2009 The Maketu Ongatoro Wetland Group was set up by a group of locals to help the endangered New Zealand Dotterel to survive on the sand spit in Maketu. The aim was to rid the spit of predators and weeds and to return it to its former glory thus increasing the numbers of birds. With enthusiasm the group has grown rapidly and we now aim to tackle the wetlands behind the Spit , ridding the area of pampas grass and working with a 5 year biodiversity plan ultimately aiming for RAMSAR status.
My job as community relations officer is to visit the local school and to write regular press articles promoting the activities.
Last year we won 2 awards; The Trust Power Community Award and The Dunes Restoration Trust Award.
The arrival of the cargo ship RENA into our Bay of Plenty has changed everything. The ship has seeped oil for 5 weeks and is still threatening to break up. The beaches are cleaned daily by volunteers( locals, students ,tourists, the army and more)with large amounts removed every day. The wildlife service have removed half the dotterels for safe keeping, cleaning their feet of oil while those left behind struggle to get on with their breeding programme. So far 14-1500 birds have been found dead and of course many more undetected. Fishing, ,,swimming, surfing and beach walking are all banned until further notice. which could be months. A tragedy for this beautiful coastline.