Update – June 2024

We were very fortunate to have the support of Kerryn Johnson and her pest detection dog Pip for 3 full days in May. Kerryn helped to rearrange several of our trap lines. Our aim is to more aggressively target stoats and we have redeployed some of our DoC traps on the borders of the bush and added modified Victor stoat traps. Having said that, weasel numbers appear to be high at present, suggesting there aren’t many stoats around. We certainly had more luck catching them in the early stages of the project. We have caught 10 weasels in a month and possibly more in the AT220’s.

We heard that Forest Bridge Trust have been catching quite a few stoats in the surrounding area. Stoats have a large home range, so this is also great news for Leigh.

Our volunteers Chris and Keith have now recharged all the AT220’s and topped them up with bait so they should be ok for another 3 months.

Madeira Vine and Kahili Ginger control

Madeira Vine
Please keep and eye out for Madeira vine, also known as Mignonette vine which has been seen in the Cape Rodney area. This climbing vine is very hard to get rid of once established and can strangle large areas of native trees.
Mignonette vine • Weedbusters
Madeira vine (tiakitamakimakaurau.nz)

Kahili Ginger
Another invasive pest plant on our radar is Kahili ginger. Over the Easter break volunteers helped to control a large area of this weed. It was evident this was the seed source of seedlings popping up around the bush block.

Community Weeding Day

A group of 10 dedicated volunteers met on Sunday, 24 March to carry out weeding on the Leigh foreshore. The plants are thriving but will be smothered by kikuyu and other weeds unless regular control is carried out over the next few years. If you happen to be walking past, please feel free to do a bit of weeding and place them in one of two composting bags provided. The mulch created in these bags will be used to provide nutrients to the plants along with moisture during the summer months.

Working Bee in Valley

Our first official working bee for 2024 was a huge success. On Sunday, 10 March, 12 enthusiastic volunteers met at the top of the catchment and set to work gathering up patches of tradescantia which were starting to creep back towards the stream edges. While the tradescantia leaf beetle is helping to suppress this weed in some areas and groundcovers including oplismenus hirtellus and pratia angulata are becoming established, the tradescantia still needs to be controlled.

After spending approximately an hour in one location, we gradually moved downstream collecting further patches along the way.

This is something we have been planning for ages but haven’t been able to carry out due to the very wet weather in 2023. Everyone agreed it was a very rewarding morning’s effort.

Bringing in the experts from Forest Bridge Trust

Bat Monitoring

On Friday, 23 February 2024, we were very fortunate to have input from Virginia Moreno, Ecology & Biodiversity Advisor, Forest Bridge Trust, who visited the valley to instal three bat monitoring devices. We have previously carried out bat monitoring using a hand-held device which indicated there was no bat activity. However, Viriginia advised the presence of bats is determined by a number of variables including the weather, temperature and availability of invertebrate prey and they might still be visiting the area. These automatic monitors which were positioned in two locations along the stream and on the border of the bush, will provide a more accurate record of bat activity over a period of weeks. Virginia plans to return to the bush with other members of the Forest Bridge Trust team to carry out a night time herpetological study. We look forward to the results of these investigations.

AT220 Data gathering

On Monday, 11 March, Hamish Stewart, Predator Control Assistant, provided an excellent training session on gathering data from the AT220 self setting traps. While we had been advised to count the rats carcasses or tails of decomposed rats to determine the number of strikes, these devices can do so much more. The data Hamish downloaded from one device indicated it had caught 5 possums and 12 rats whereas our data collection had indicated the machine had only caught 6 rats. Clearly this is a more reliable method of recording as often carcasses are carried away by scavengers including feral pigs. Hamish will be reviewing all our AT220 traps to ensure they are fully operational, and downloading the data.

We are most grateful to Virginia and Hamish for their valuable input and to Forest Bridge Trust for providing us with these experts in the field.

Weed Warriors making progress on Cape Rodney

Our team of dedicated volunteers continues to make strides in restoring the native bush and bird life. Along with managing phase 1 of our pulse baiting programme, we have been continuing to focus heavily on moth plant control. This weed is a master of disguise but much easier to detect when it is flowering. The aim has been to target the larger vines before the flowers form into pods and disperse their seeds. We have established bait and trap lines in some of the worst affected areas which means we can regularly monitor and control this evil climbing weed, along with some of the other nasty strangling vines. Large groves of tobacco plant and Queensland poplar are also on our radar. Landowners have previously employed contractors to manage this weed infestation in one area and the landowners themselves have also been carrying out regular control.

On Saturday, 17 February we set off at 7.45am, joined by Maria Sinclair, a secondary school Biology teacher from Whangaparoa College who has had lots of weeding experience and is a member of STAMP (Society Totally Against Moth Plant.) Maria, Richard Taylor, and Troy Taylor scaled the steep slopes like mountain goats finding previously missed vines, including an extremely large one which had reached halfway up a large macrocarpa tree. Lots of pods had already formed and, where possible, these were collected. This will be an ongoing battle but one we are all determined to win!

Moth Plant and Climbing Asparagus Control

25 volunteer hours of moth plant control have been carried out over the first 2 weeks of January. The aim is to remove the vines before the flowers turn into pods.
This weed is a massive problem in the Leigh area and we are working in conjunction with Coastal Care group and STAMP to control as many large infestations as possible.
Conservation Auckland – Moth Plant status

Moth plant

We have also been continuing to clear climbing asparagus to ensure the seeds don’t get dispersed by birds.
Conservation Auckland – Climbing asparagus status

Climbing asparagus

Both of these strangling vines can cause canopy collapse of our precious forest remnants if left to take hold.

Recruitment of new members

We would like to welcome new participants to our trapping and baiting programme including Phillip Jones who has gone on a recruitment drive and spread the word about our restoration efforts. Thanks to Phillip’s input, our bait lines have been extended onto neighbouring properties on Cape Rodney point, with more possible recruits on the horizon.

We look forward to working with Phillip in 2024.


Our final working bee for 2023 was held on Sunday, 10 December when, along with members of the Leigh community, we distributed mulch around the native plants which were planted in June this year on the foreshore near the bottom of Tenetahi Rd.

Thanks again to Kate McConnell and James Ross for selecting the plants and deciding on the planting layout. There has been an excellent survival rate due to Kate and James’s invaluable input and because we have had such a wet spring.

The area is going to look fabulous in a few years’ time, particularly with Kate’s plans to add further native shrubs.

Community working bees

A few small, impromptu community working bees have been held in recent weeks, during the brief periods of fine weather. On Monday, 9 October James Ross planted over 50 native plants at the bottom of the cliff near the Leigh wharf. Some weeding was also carried out including cutting down a few of the larger bone seed plants.

On Sunday, 22 October, Richard Henty from STAMP revisited the slopes above the harbour and carried out follow-up mothplant control. Richard’s and Chris Wadsworth’s efforts have made a huge difference to this area, and we expect to see less mothplant flowering during the summer months. We plan to employ an abseiler within the next few weeks to get rid of the pest plants from the higher slopes including a huge number of mothplant seedlings.

While carrying out weeding on the Leigh foreshore later that morning, I came across Cayan Streatfield from Cornwall who arrived on a bike carrying a pick fork and said ‘Hi, I’m Cayan and I’m here to help you!’ Little did he know what he was letting himself in for! Cayan is in New Zealand for the next year and plans to work as a WWOOFer around the country. He has proved to be very hard working and reliable and we have already lined up some other jobs for him.