The Waihi Wildlife Management Reserve, is a 45ha DOC reserve on the south side of Waihi Harbour. Much of the reserve lies between the Pongakawa Stream in the east, and the Wharere Canal and Kaikokopu Canal in the west. The area is divided in two by a causeway, with the northern section being unmodified saltmarsh with just a few pest plants in it, and the southern section heavily invaded by pampas, tall fescue and mercer grass. This southern section has been farmed in the past, but has been neglected for the last 10-15 years. To the east of the Pongakawa Canal is another area of natural saltmarsh with a few invasive plants. Access into the reserve was severely restricted, with huge amounts of pampas blocking the western stop bank and the causeway, along with other problems such as wattle trees, gorse and blackberry.
The project started in January 2015 when we obtained some funding from the BOPRC Environmental Enhancement Fund. This enabled us to hire a digger to remove as much of the pampas as we could, making access possible. Since then we have worked to grass over much of the causeway and the stop banks to prevent weed invasion. We have removed around 20 wattle trees, and the rest will be taken out gradually, as native trees regenerate. In August 2015 we held a working bee, attended mainly by DOC staff, and planted 500 plants. These have survived well, and we will be gradually adding to them each year. We have carried out a helicopter spray of the pampas and other grasses in the previously farmed area, and will continue to control these and other pest plants in the reserve.
At the end of 2015 we instigated a trapping programme that by the end of May 2016 had caught:
23 Stoats and weasels
The reserve is home to Australasian Bittern, Banded Rail, Spotless Crake and Pied Stilt, all of which breed there, as do Australasian Shoveler and mallard. It is also frequented by the flock of Royal Spoonbill that are often seen the Maketu/Waihi harbours. We plan to do a reptile survey later this year to see what species we have in the reserve.
We have already run a school day at the reserve, for children from Maketu and Paengaroa schools, and we hope that this can become a regular event.
This is a long term project, and each year the reserve will become that little bit better, and home to an increasing number of native species.