It was supposed to be a rat-station baiting day in the forest, but a previous check by volunteers found only two rats had been caught! The forest was safe for the birds this time around. Instead, we volunteers would have a walk and a barbecue. Meeting at the kohanga, literally te reo Maori for nest, the hut where supplies for keeping the forest safe were kept, we divided into two guided groups for the hunt for special plants. I chose to search for the rare Raukaua tree that used to be common. It twines itself around a host for support without killing it, unlike the rata.
Not only did we find many raukaua trees that had germinated up the trunk of tree ferns, safe from browsing deer, I found two inspiring, amazing and good keen girls, so I interviewed them.
Met in the Bush – Two Good Keen Girls
Rosie Russell, aged 15, Year 10, Otumoetai College says, “I like tramping and being in the bush. I feel it needs to be looked after, probably from watching my mum do it. I come here each month to help protect the forest from pests. I do a bait line for rats and put out ink pads for tracking tunnels to track the number of stoats, possums and rats in the area. Mostly it’s rats. I’m doing the Duke of Edinburgh Award, bronze level. Part of it requires community service. I chose to help the Aongatete Forest Restoration Project. I think it’s important to look after the bush so we can keep our unique birds safe.”
Danielle McCormick aged 12, Year 7, Katikati College says, “When I was still at Matahui School, people from the Aongatete Forest Restoration Project talked to us about the release of weka in the forest. Their aim is ‘Bring Back the Birds’. I volunteered to help. Then I saw they needed live cat traps and monitoring cameras. I like to set goals. With a friend, we raised $600 from a raffle for them. In 2016, I did it alone. The $100 value raffle pack and guessing the number of lollies in the jar raised $ 570. The President of the Trust awarded me the title of Junior Ambassador. I’ve been coming up to the project and helping wherever I can, ever since.
If you want to know more about the Aongatete Forest Restoration project go to: