I am privileged to be the new DUNZ President appointed by my fellow DU Directors at our meeting at the Napier Conference in August. I thank them for their confidence and hope I can make as big a contribution to wetland and waterfowl conservation as our past President Ross Cottle. To Ross, a big thank you for your stewardship of DU over many years and I know as a Director you will continue to keep DU on track. To your wife Sharon, we really appreciate the support you have given Ross and DU. The strength of DU is based around its members and the sterling work of Liz Brook, editor of Flight, Jan Abel, secretary and Michelle Cooper, facilitator of the Quack Club and DU webmaster.
Our AGM in Napier was an outstanding success. We had a great venue and good attendance by members who supported the fund raising auction. The field trip on Saturday morning to Pekapeka Swamp was led by Steve Cave, Wetlands Manager with the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council who talked about their restoration programme for the wetland. They have an excellent interpretation trail with boardwalks which take you right into the middle of this wetland. Pekapeka is located on SH2 south of Hastings and is well worth a visit.
In the afternoon we visited the Ahuriri Estuary on the edge of Napier, now only 20 percent its former size following land uplift in the 1931 Napier earthquake and associated drainage work. Ahuriri is a very valuable estuarine wetland with a rich Maori history, high biodiversity values with a number of northern hemisphere breeding birds like godwit using the area in our summer, and diverse recreation values.
The future of wetlands is both exciting and challenging. Projects like Wairio in the Wairarapa where DU has gained the support of a diverse group of organisations and individuals in helping to restore this degraded wetland. It is a great model which should be extended to other regions where many other wetlands require help.
The future of wetlands is largely dependent on private landowners and organisations like DU, Fish & Game, Game Bird Habitat Trust, National Wetland Trust, DOC, QEII, Forest & Bird, Regional Councils, community biodiversity groups and others. We all have a strong interest in wetland conservation and often work independently of each other. I hope we can take advantage of every opportunity to work more closely together in future. It is important that legislation, like the Resource Management Act which underpins much of this work, is not weakened during the current review.
A decision has been made to hold the 2014 AGM in the Wairarapa at Brackenridge Country Retreat near Martinborough. Look forward to seeing you all there.