October has been a busy month for the SIRCET team! We held our AGM, welcomed new trustees and volunteers, held multiple events as part of Save Kiwi month, dealt to some barberry, potted up plants at the nursery and continued trapping rats, cats and possums.
This year, we welcomed two new trustees to our team: Shona Sangster and Wayne King. Shona is a very familiar face for SIRCET having previously worked for us as Project Administrator. We are very excited to welcome her back on board! Wayne recently moved to the island with his wife Di and their daughter, they have been keen volunteers with us since they arrived. Wayne’s brings with him a great enthusiasm and passion for conservation. They join our returning trustees Letitia McRitchie (Chairperson), Alasdair Burns (Secretary), Anita Herbert (Treasurer), Di Morris (Staff Liaison) and Jim Barrett.
Our annual Great Kiwi Bake Off was held down at the community noticeboard on the Saturday of Labour Weekend. The team at SIRCET would like to thank everyone who came out and supported the event, either by making/donating items or purchasing those items. Lots of tasty treats were produced and sold, and we were able to raise an amazing total of $720!!! Every single cent raised goes to helping kiwis thrive!
Labour Weekend also saw the completion of the second of our Kiwi Avoidance Training workshops for the year out at Moturau Moana Gardens. This was hugely successful with a record 32 local and visiting dogs passing the training course. In previous years we have used an ‘e-kiwi’ (a small round fluffy ball with electrodes coming out), which is approximately the same size as an adult kiwi, and is made to smell like one (usually using kiwi poo). However, that is where the similarity between our e-kiwi and a real kiwi end. This time, we’ve upgraded, with the development of a ‘robotic kiwi’ (shown in the photos with Fen the German Shepherd)
Designed by Travis Chittenden as a school science fair project, the remote-controlled kiwi-shaped robot has a wooden base and beak, steel legs, a polystyrene head and about 30 electrodes. The head, body and legs move via two motors that run off batteries and is controlled by a cell phone app. Like the e-kiwi, the electrodes of the robotic kiwi deliver a small shock to any dogs who show a little too much interest, which is usually enough to deter any interest in live kiwis. Travis’s robotic kiwi has won five awards at the NZAS Southland Science and Technology Fair held in Invercargill recently. Congratulations and a big thank you to Travis for designing such an amazing new tool to help kiwi on the island. Thanks also go out to Sandy King and Di Morris for their time organising and running another successful event.
The end of the month bought about the end of the intensive 2 month barberry control project. The team of Belinda, Laire and Olivia spent 2 months working in the bush, in the rain (lots!) and sun (not so much!!) removing barberry from the target area. After 2 months we achieved our target area and still have some time left over to continue to target this pesty weed. Thanks team for your hard work and managing to have fun out there!