A Minute with Marco - February

Read Marco Cataloni's latest column about weed control in biodiversity-rich areas, improving water quality in the Middle Creek/Te Wai-o-pātiki catchment, and the declining gull population in Kaikōura.

Kia ora, Welcome to 2024! 

I trust you managed to have a decent break over the holiday period, and that you hit the new year feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.  

For me, it was a good opportunity to catch up with friends and family, get out and about and sharpen up on the BBQ skills.  

Now that we’re back into it, here are a few projects the local zone delivery team is working on.

Weed control in the Upper Waiau Toa

Weed control is keeping our Kaikōura team busy over summer. 

We’ve been carrying out targeted work along the Upper Waiau Toa – one of the region’s most biodiversity-rich areas. It's home to a huge proportion of the Kaikōura Zone’s wetlands, and one of the least weedy braided river environments in Canterbury, which provide habitat for precious species such as tarapirohe/black-fronted terns and numerous threated plants.

If we let the weeds do their thing, they’d eventually take over the wetlands and braided river, so it’s important we keep these pests at bay.

Our main focus has been on Spanish heath and willow, along with gorse, broom, black alder and Scotch heather.

By working alongside our rivers team, the Kaikōura Water Zone Committee and outside agencies, we’ve managed to eliminate our uppermost source of willow – controlling at least two hectares of it near the top of the catchment. 

This targeted control work will be on-going, using a mix of aerial and ground methods - with the best tools we’ve got. I look forward to watching the continued progress in this space. 

Working with landowners to improve water quality 

Meanwhile, a three-year project to help improve water quality in the Middle Creek/Te Wai-o-pātiki catchment is due to be completed this year. 

It began with a stream walk around the area 2021 and has since seen 1.7km of fencing put up across five properties. This has increased the size of riparian margins (which have then been planted) around overland flow paths/nutrient runoffs, creeks and drains – which all feed into Middle Creek. The project is also helping resolve bank slumping and stabilisation issues, and keep stock out.

Through this work, we’ve built up a good relationship with the affected landowners, who are all enthusiastic about good land management practices. Great mahi from all involved! 

Gull population falling

Fun fact: did you know Kaikōura is home to the largest red-billed gull colony in Aotearoa New Zealand? However, population numbers are falling, due to dwindling food sources at sea.

While they may have beach diners guarding their fish and chips, large numbers are lost every year due to starvation – so please be kind!  

For now, enjoy the warm weather while it lasts and I'll be in touch again in April.