Te Huanga Koiora
Biodiversity, Cultural Diversity, Linguistic Diversity
[Even more so than most other parts of this site, this has been a page "under construction". It was planned that it would have a range of material on biodiversity, especially matters relating to New Zealand flora and fauna, including information about ecological challenges and
also articles about individual species and how the environment can be enhanced and improved to ensure that what ought to thrive does. Taitokerau was to be be given special, but by no means exclusive, attention.There was also to be material relating to cultural and linguistic diversity, and links to other material on this website and elsewhere relating to these topics. However, it's now, like most of this site except for the dictionary basically archive material, although occasionally something important may be added -- like the RSNZ press release on ocean acidification, below. Any new additions will be heralded in the "Notes and News" page.]
On this page:
Püpü-rangi and Whänau
The ALPURT Motorway Extensions
Acidification of the Ocean
On May 12, 2009 , the Royal Society of New Zealand released an advice piece to inform policy makers and the public about ocean acidification. This work was led by Professor Keith Hunter, FRSNZ and Vice President (Physical Sciences, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology) of the RSNZ.
Ocean acidification is a new facet of climate change. Increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere lead to increased absorption of carbon dioxide into the oceans, raising the acidity of ocean waters. This will affect the ability of organisms such as corals and shellfish to form reefs and shells. The effect of this upon ecosystems is difficult to predict. Many species will experience difficulties as acidification progresses. In contrast, for some kinds of plankton, ocean acidification may increase their productivity. The overall impact on ecosystems is not known.
Potentially affected ecosystems in New Zealand could include Bluff oyster fisheries in Foveaux Strait; the Otago coastal algae that provide the habitat for kina and paua larvae; cold, deep water corals; and the open ocean plankton that underpin the ocean food web. Antarctica may also be affected, as this effect will be strongest where water is coldest. These ecosystems also face many other stressors including climate change, overfishing and pollution.
Acidification is a long term issue and it is not clear if existing ecosystems are being affected yet. However, in the long term, the impacts of ocean acidification may be very substantial.
The information paper discusses what can be said about the social and economic impacts of ocean acidification. This discussion is necessarily brief as little research has been done on what impacts are expected. In particular, the effects on the viability of aquaculture are unknown and ocean acidification may be a substantial risk for this industry. How economies and societies will be able adapt to ocean acidification is also unknown.
The information piece can be downloaded from:
The Royal Society will continue to publish further work on informing policy makers and the general public on emerging science issues. The Society will be running a workshop for policy makers with Professor Keith Hunter on Wednesday, the 9th of September 2009, to explore acidification science, the relevance to New Zealand's marine ecosystems, fisheries and aquaculture industries, and to discuss knowledge needs and research priorities for the future. For more information, please see the attached note or look under "News & Events" at http://www.royalsociety.org.nz/. [Press release from the RSNZ, 12 May 2009]
Snail watch: Püpü rangi and whänau
One of the taonga of Taitoterangi is the püpü rangi, also known as the püpü-whakarongo-taua or kauri snail. It is still found in a range of Taitokerau forest habitats, but hovers on the edge of the endangered list, and indeed one of its subspecies, P. Busbyii watti, from the far north (illustrated on the right with a photograph by A.M.Spurgeon), is on the Department of Conservation's "most endangered species" list, along with all the species in the related genus Powelliphanta. The World Conservation Union (IUCN) includes all of these snails in its "red list" of the world's most endangered species. Now another member of this whänau is under more than usual pressure, this time from mining interests. The remarks by the Royal Society's conservation policy analyst, Dr Kathleen logan, reprinted below apply to all these species, an irreplaceable part of our national heritage.
A THREAT TO BIODIVERSITY
Comment by Royal Society Policy Analyst, Dr Kathleen Logan,
firstname.lastname@example.org, in Royal Society Alert - Issue 414 (March 16, 2006)
The rare native snail (Powelliphanta augustus) is found only at a single habitat on the ridge of Mt Augustus on the West Coast. It also happens to be the site of a coal mine. Powelliphanta snails are beautiful New Zealand examples of how species radiate with geographically isolated populations. A decision to be made by the Ministers of Conservation and Energy will either save P. augustus, or risk its extinction. The snail is a top order carnivore, and its territory is limited to a very small area in a specific
type of alpine habitat, which is far from mammalian predators and contains suitable environmental conditions and prey. If Solid Energy mines the coal there, it will destroy the remaining habitat. The High Court has ruled that the Ministers of Conservation and Energy must decide whether to allow Solid Energy to continue mining there, and whether it must remove the snails to another location first to enable survival. However, there is no evidence that a population could establish itself in a new location, if a suitable one could be found.
The best decision for this species, to protect New Zealand's biodiversity, would be to disallow the mining. A compromise position may be to allow snail relocation. Given the lack of evidence of successful relocations, an appropriate first step would be to trial a population reestablishment over five to ten years, considering the life-cycle of the snail, before the original habitat is destroyed. The Society's Biodiversity Committee has sent a letter on this to the Minister of Conservation (see http://www.rsnz.org/advisory/biodiversity/snail.php).
New Zealanders have a close bond to our native flora and fauna, and so the loss of another species, when it could have been avoided, would belittle the spirit of this bond.
NEW HOPE FOR MELANOPSIS TRIFASCIATA
The "giant" freshwater snail (pictured on the left -- there is a little more about it below) which was endangered, along with other rare native flora and fauna, by the new Albany to Puhoi motorway development has been given a reprieve. Instead of massive landfills and culvert construction, an "eco viaduct" incorporating bridges and tunnels is to be consrtucted to protect ecologically sensitive land and waterways over which the road will pass in the Waiwera Estuary and the Otanerua and Nukumea wetlands. News of the changes in the original plan and progress to date can be found on the Northern Gateway Alliance's web site http://www.northerngateway.co.nz/index.php. Three of the recent reports (which you can read or download from here by clicking on the appropriate links) are Transit New Zealand's media backgrounder on the environmental measures; the Gateway Alliance's March 2005 Newsletter article on "minimizing the motorway 'footprint'"; and the December 2005 Newsletter with more ecological information and an update on the progress of the highway construction.
OUR EARLIER REPORT (FEBRUARY 2005)
The plans for the Albany to Puhoi extension of Auckland's Northern Motorway, known as
ALPURT B, pass through land of huge ecological and aesthetc importance. Current proposals from
Transit New Zealand to fill certain wetland areas north of Orewa with spoil taken from adjacent
land and replace the stream beds with culverts have caused great concern to environmental groups
both locally and nationally. The Manu Waiata Restoration & Protection Society, in conjunction with
the Native Freshwater Fish Society and the Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society, have
presented a petition, with well-researched supporting detail,
to Transit New Zealand for a bridge for the Nukumea South Arm, rather than culverts
through the fill as currently proposed.
Species (many endangered) which would be
directly affected include the giant kokopu (Galaxias argenteus, pictured to the left), banded kokopu (Galaxias fasciatus),
red-finned bully (Gobiomorphus huttoni),
long-finned eel (Anguilla dieffenbachii) (which is unique to Aotearoa), the Northern koura (freshwater crayfish,
Paranephrops planifrons), New Zealand's
only native freshwater shrimp (
Paratya curvirostris), inanga (Galaxias maculatus) common bullies (Gobiomorphus cotidianus),
and giant aquatic snails (Melanopsis trifasciata - which when mature stretches all of 30mm from one end of the shell to the other).
Click on the highlighted
names to see pictures of these creatures, taken by Dr Clint McCulloch and used with his permission; most of them, along with a great deal more information about aquatic fauna, appear on the Native Freshwater Fish Society's web pages.The picture of the giant kokopu on this page comes from the "Wild about New Zealand" web site, and pictures of the giant water snail - viewed from the back (dorsal view) and the front (ventral view), were kindly supplied to us by Brian Smith of NIWA..
The route of the motorway extension is shown on the map
on the right -- click on it to get a larger version where the place names will be more visible.
You can get more detailed information on the proposals and their implications
for biodiversity in these documents which can be read or downloaded from this web site:
(1) Nukumea_Eels.doc. The long-finned eel Anquilla dieffenbachii)
is one of the largest freshwater eels in the world
and it is found only in the rivers and lakes of Aotearoa. This is an illustrated
summary of their habitat in the Tiemiemi (Peterken) wetlands
fed by the Nukumea stream. The wetland can be preserved by bridging the South Arm.
The wetland is an eel bed, breeding ground of spotless crake and fernbird, and migration route of
native fish. Bridging preserves the habitat of species rare in the Rodney district.
The large forested watershed is in crown ownership.
(2) Correspondence from The Manu Waiata Restoration &
Protection Society to the Auckland Regional Council and Transit NZ on the Environment Court's 1997 decision about
the conditions under which the motorway extension could proceed and related matters.
(This document contains detailed notes on legal, ecological and environmental considerations
pertinent to the ALPURT construction).
(3) "ALPURT B2 - Construction begins without all resource consents
". A letter from Wendy Pond, Secretary, Manu Waiata Restoration and Protection Society to the Minister of Transport,
21 December 2004, drawing the Minister's attention to Transit New Zealand's violations of the proper procedures,
and explaining why the Minister should intervene without delay.
(4) "Bridging for the ALPURT motorway". Letter from Wendy Pond on behalf of the
Manu Waiata Society to the Royal Society of New Zealand Biodiversity Committee,
19 Jan 2005, outlining the threat to biodiversity posed by Transit's actions and plans, and practical remedies for
(5) "ALPURT B2 - peer review of culvert proposal". This is a letter from Manu Waiata
Restoration & Protection Society to the Director General of Conservation, 2 February 2005. It contains a full review of the
ecological and environmental impact of the highway construction and reasons for bridging rather than adopting
Transit's planned "Eco-Viaduct" approach, along with comprehensive appendices documenting observations of native fish and other
species in the area and likely and actual effects of different kinds of incursions.
The Manu Waiata
Restoration & Protection Society has also produced an excellent Video/DVD presentation on the ecological, landscape and biodiversity values at stake in the ALPURT project. We hope to be able to put a brief excerpt from this here soon.
There is further documentation and discussion about the ALPURT motorway extensions on the
"White Knight" web page:
UPDATE, FEBRUARY 2006: The original item under this "Frog Watch" heading is reproduced below. It records frogs arriving at the writer's Ngaruawahia farmlet "out of the blue" (or green) in 2002, 2003 and 2004. One of the people who read this article was Dr Malcolm Green of NIWA in Hamilton. He sent an account of very similar happenings on his own property:
In about October of 2003, a green-and-gold bell frog appeared in our pond in suburban Hamilton (4 m by 1.5 m or so, very close to the house, at the top of a gully), and was quickly joined by another (and then another). That summer (2004), they mated and filled our pond with tadpoles. As you probably remember, February 2004 was quite cold and wet, and we saw only about half a dozen make the transition to frogs.
Now, we own land right down to the stream at the base of the gully ... where we are doing a lot of native replanting. There are several permanent springs with standing water there, so I transferred quite a few tadpoles down there, hoping they would mature and spread the population, but I have no idea whether that has been successful.
The frogs left in about May or so of that year. Meanwhile, it has only been in the last couple of weeks [late February-Early March 2005] that one frog has returned to the pond by the house. We hope this is just an off year, for whatever reason, and that they will flourish (around the house and down in the gully). I should mention that prior to last year, I had happened upon a green-and-gold (maybe 6 or 7 years ago, and just the one time) down aorund one of the springs in the gully. In fact, it was that that gave us the idea of trying to "seed" new frog populations.
In our part of Ngaruawahia, 2005 has been a "frogless" year from beginning to end. Percy Tipene also reports that he has seen no sign of frogs between Motatau and Taheke for a while. If other people have comments on the presence or absence of frogs in their areas, we'd be hapy to collate them, as although their disappearance seems to be a world-wide phenomenon, it's also a worrying one -- they are the "miners' canaries" of environmental health. It's important to know where they used to be plentiful, and where they are still to be found, so we can get clues as to why they have vanished from so many of their old habitats -- and perhaps work out what this means and how we might tackle adverse environmental conditions. It's probably not just the frogs that are at risk.
"FROG WATCH" February 2005
In the January 2003 edition of the Centre Diary (the James Henare Maori Research Centre's electronic newsletter), I wrote an item headed "E hoki mai ana nga poraka?" (Are the frogs coming back?), accompanied by the photograph on the left. This is reproduced here, updated and with a few extra observations, as the fate of amphibians seems to be problematic everywhere. [Richard Benton]
Over the last decade or so, frogs have been disappearing from many parts of the world, including New Zealand. Our own, very rare native frogs (which live only in secluded patches of bush) have been affected by a disease thought to have been introduced from overseas, and the once common Australian frogs that have been here since the Nineteenth Century, are heard croaking or whistling in fewer and fewer places in Aotearoa. So I was delighted when five green-and-gold bell frogs (Litoria aurea) turned up “out of the blue” in a small pond I had built on our whänau’s organic farmlet. Three of them are pictured in the photograph. The first two (fully formed and 4 or 5 cm. long), appeared on December 30, 2002, another arrived on January 1st, and two others arrived a fortnight later. They came and went - most days there were one or two in the pond, and some days all five. At night, you would sometimes spot one of them quite high up in the nearby shrubs busy catching insects. They stayed around until May - my last sighting of one was on May 17, but as I was away in Auckland most of the time they could have been around for a week or two longer. However, by mid-May it's getting quite cool in the Waikato, especially at night, and time, I would think, for the frogs to find places to hibernate (a couple of years before we had come across one in a worm bin!). Last year (2004), none made an appearance until March 2nd. There was only one and it stayed around only until the end of March. However, April was unusually cool so it could well have decided to hibernate early. So far this year (February 2005), no frogs have been sighted. The "pond", by the way, is a completely artificial construction at ground level, about 6 sq.m. in area, 100 metres as the tui flies from the Waikato river, and there are no other lakes or ponds nearby.
is not quite in Tai Tokerau, but there are many links between the Tainui tribes and those of the North. Rewa, who gave
my great-great grandfather a house lot in Kororareka
in 1837 (now, I regret to say, the DOC car park), is known to have been in the area when Ngapuhi was expanding
southwards, but the famous sisters Reitu and Reipae had ensured that almost everyone in Taitokerau had Waikato relatives after they journeyed north a couple of hundred years earlier. And of course our family are members of TOPIS. When I visited Panguru early in 2003 some of the people there noted that frogs seemed to have disappeared from the Hokianga. Interestingly, there were no words for "frog" included in the 1999-2003 Papakupu o Te Taitokerau database as headwords, although they did appear (as pëpeke and poraka) in a couple of example sentences.
I was able to ascertain, however, that also in 2003 for the first
time in several years a few golden bell frogs had also been spotted on a farm in
the Manawaora area, near Russell. This is good news, as this frog, almost extinct
in its Australian homeland, is regarded as an indicator of the health
of the environment, including the danger to our native frogs and other
ngarara. They are extremely sensitive to pollution and pesticides. These Australian frogs may help preserve our indigenous biodiversity, too, as they distract amphibian-eating creatures from our more ancient and unique, but less succulent and accessible species.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
The University of Otago was conducting a frog survey for several years, but the web pages about this seemed to disappear from the University web site sometime in 2005. If you have any news of the appearance or disappearance of frogs in Tai Tokerau, please pass the information on to us. We will also hand it on to the Otago researchers. You can e-mail us at kupu at rakiora.org. And, of course, be kind to those slippery green croakers if any come to live near your place.
Some New Zealand biodiversity links
Biodiversity on Line - NZ Biodiversity Strategy Website
Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment
Ministry for the Environment
Department of Conservation
Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research
Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries
Royal Society of New Zealand Biodiversity Committee
Centre for Biodiversity and Ecology Research, University of Waikato
"Nature and Co" Website
(Many useful links to information on NZ biodiversity)
Kaitiakitanga Network"Te Whaiti Nui-a-Toi children guard and
share Whirinaki, their culture, language and values" - Applied restoration of biodiversity, grounded in Te Whaiti in the Urewera
Country. Many very useful links related to sustainability and ecologically responsible community development.
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