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May Pānui – Newsletter

Kia ora and welcome to our Restore Hibiscus & Bays May Pānui.

Every month we send news, information and events from our network of community groups working to eradicate pests, restore native habitats and improve water quality across the Hibiscus & Bays Local Board area. Please complete your full details via the link below, so we can ensure you receive information tailored to you. We also ask that you share this email with your friends and contacts and encourage them to sign up here for future newsletters.

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Since our last newsletter, we have all been through five weeks of lockdown at Alert Level 4. The experience has been vastly different for every one of us, depending on our circumstances. Our essential workers have continued to work hard to keep us safe and provided for during this time. Parents have taken on the role of teachers in addition to their regular job. Everyone has been busy adjusting to life in a pandemic.
But what is clear is that many more of us have begun to understand the importance for our wellbeing of connecting with nature in our local area. Whether it be exploring the rock pools at our beaches, enjoying the beautiful tūī song in our backyards, or basking under the awe-inspiring kahikatea and kauri giants in our ancient bush reserves. 
We know that our network is keen to get back into the critical work of protecting nature in our rohe. However, we have heard from our Auckland Council Community Park Ranger that all volunteer activity in Local and Community Parks continues to be prohibited for the duration of the Level 3 status. We’ll be in touch again with some guidance as soon as we have it from Council around volunteering at Level 2.
Did you see that our Restore Hibiscus & Bays network got international media coverage last week?! 

We have people and groups that have been out there maintaining trap lines for more than 10 years, so naturally we’re worried sick about the birds and reptiles we’re trying to save,” says Kane Kvasnicka – The Guardian.

While we're unable to set up and maintain predator control lines in our reserves right now, take this opportunity to upskill for when it is deemed safe to get back into it. Predator Free New Zealand Trust has been running a series of excellent webinars and you can watch here recordings of them all.
If you live on the Hibiscus Coast and would like to get involved in backyard trapping, you can now order your rat trap online, for delivery as soon as the team is able to (pending Covid-19 restrictions). The traps are available on long term loan from the Forest and Bird Pest Free Hibiscus Coast project, as long as you live on the Hibiscus Coast and are happy to record your catches on Trap.NZ. They are particularly targeting residents of the Gulf Harbour-Army Bay and Red Beach East-Weiti areas in line with their targeted hub model for 2020. Residents outside of these areas are encouraged to get a group of their neighbours together to order traps as a group. Building on the project’s work with Gulf Harbour Marina and Gulf Harbour Yacht Club, there is also a specific order form for boat owners called Pest Free Boaties. 
Visit the project page here to find our more and sign up for your trap today. 
Friends of Okura Bush are running their annual backyard rat trapping competition this month for residents in and surrounding Okura, Stillwater and Weiti Bay. There are some great prizes on offer. To get involved, contact:
Following the success of our April Zoom meeting (at which 40 people participated), our next network hui will take place on Thursday 11 June, 6–8pm. We will have a presentation from one of our network's awesome community groups to share their project's vision and plans for the coming year. We are also aiming to launch our new website and to talk you through the resources that are available to support you with your volunteer work. If you would like to add anything to the agenda, please let us know. It is likely that the meeting will take place over Zoom videoconference again. Register at and we will send you the link and password.
The Restore Hibiscus & Bays Volunteer Initiatives Programme (VIP) aims to provide funding to our network of groups, neighbourhoods, schools, and other individuals to carry out short-term projects to eradicate pests, restore native habitats and improve water quality across public and private land in the Hibiscus & Bays Local Board area. Communities can apply for funding up to around $3,000 for a project that they have identified as important to the conservation and restoration of native biodiversity in their area. The deadline for applications is 30 June. For more information, download the overview brochure and application form. Email Rachael at with any questions.
At Level 3, we are starting to get our new community tool library in Browns Bay ready for storing and distributing equipment and resources to our communities. We are in need of some timber for internal framing and 15 sheets of plywood (1200x2.4) to line an internal wall. If you are able to help with sourcing these materials at a reasonable rate, or if you know of anyone who might be able to donate these or other materials to our community tool library, please let us know:
Pest Plant of the Month: WOOLLY NIGHTSHADE

This small tree grows rapidly to over 8 metres, often forming dense stands that crowd out native seedlings. It also produces toxins that poison the soil and prevent native plants regenerating. Purple flowers are followed by clusters of green-yellow berries, which are spread by birds to new locations. 

Woolly nightshade is also bad for our health – the dust from the plant can irritate our eyes, skin, nose and throat and the berries are toxic.

Take action as soon as possible:

  • Report the weed using the app.
  • Wear personal protection equipment, such as a mask and gloves.
  • Hand pull small infestations.
  • For small to medium sized stems, cut near to the ground and immediately paste a thin film of cut and paste Bamboo Buster on the cut stem – can be purchased at most garden centres or hardware stores. Always read the manufacturer’s label for guidelines and recommendations. 
  • For large trees, cut two rings 20-30cm apart around the base of the trunk. Remove the bark between each ring, then apply a thin film of Bamboo Buster around the exposed part of the tree. The gradually dying tree will provide canopy cover for emerging native plants. 
  • Talk to your neighbours and encourage them to take action too!

Please email us with any questions to


The bright yellow kōwhai flowers are loved by tūī, korimako (bellbird), kererū and kākā and they are a wonderful tree to plant in our backyards. This is a great time of year to have a go at growing kōwhai from seeds collected within your local area. Here is a step by step guide adapted from this Department of Conservation resource

  1. Find a suitable seed source (the biggest, oldest tree you can find is usually the best). 

  2. Collect seed pods. 

  3. Remove the seeds from the seed pod and collect seeds in a bowl. Seeds are poisonous and should not be put in mouth.

  4. Drag each seed lightly across sandpaper about 6–7 times; hold the seed so the small dark depression is away from the sandpaper. This will scratch the surface allowing water to start the germination process. Take care not to scratch too deeply.

  5. Place seeds in a jar of water overnight as they double in size.

  6. Thoroughly water the potting mix and leave to drain.

  7. Place seeds into a seedling tray around 1cm deep and cover the hole with potting mix. 

  8. Leave seedling tray in a warm place out of direct sunlight; water occasionally to stop seedling trays from drying out.

  9. Seedlings should appear after 2-3 weeks. Transfer to a larger pot when they are about 8cm tall.

Please refer to our blog post for more ideas on helping nature in our backyards. For questions and further advice, feel free to email Kane at
Do you have any cool photos or videos of wildlife, landscapes or people helping nature within our rohe? Would you be happy for us to include them on our website, newsletters, Facebook, leaflets and other communications? Do you have any stories that you would like to share? Please send them to
Sea birds at Campbells Bay enjoying the locked down Hauraki Gulf. Similar incredible sights have been observed at other spots along our coastline over the last few weeks.
We would like to promote your future events and working bees on our website and in our newsletters! Please send us an email to, including event name, date, time, location, RSVP details and any links for further information.
Restore Hibiscus & Bays is an umbrella community-led initiative that aims to bring together, support and grow the network of restoration groups, neighbourhoods, individuals, schools, businesses and other organisations working to eradicate pests, restore native habitats and improve water quality across the Hibiscus & Bays Local Board area.

Our mahi is supported by funding grants from the Hibiscus & Bays Local Board and Auckland Council, and we are part of the East Coast Bays Community Project which has charitable status.
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Restore Hibiscus & Bays · The Bays Community Centre · 2 Glen Road · Browns Bay, Auk 0630 · New Zealand

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