Auckland story for 23 May 2012 - Mt Eden

Mount Eden has been a popular tourist destination for years. Since Christmas a shuttle operated by Ngatiwhatua-o-Orakei has been giving some folks a helping hand up and along the way they also learn something about the history of the mountain.

Bruce Hayward: Volcanoes

from Radio NZ - Saturday Morning on Saturday 27 August 2011

Geologist and marine ecologist who co-authored Volcanoes of Auckland: the Essential Guide.

Managing the Trees (15'32") 21 Sept 2009

We discuss changes to the Resource Management Act, which take effect from the 1st of October, with Environment Minister Nick Smith and Stop the Chop campaigner Stacy Colyer.

Karori Sanctuary Volunteers (12'18") 17 Sept 2009

The theme of this year's Conservation Week is 'Get Involved - Kia Mahia te Mahi'. It's all about celebrating the efforts that thousands of volunteers and community groups put in to help conservation work in New Zealand. Our Changing World went out to find what conservation volunteers get up to, and what motivates them.

Ten years ago a predator-proof fence was erected around an area of bush in central Wellington, and the result was the Karori Sanctuary. Today more than 400 volunteers help out at the sanctuary in many varied ways, and Alison Ballance headed there to catch up with members of the fence monitoring group, the Wednesday Work Group and 'avi-aid', the bird feeders.

Forest and Bird Volunteers (13'05") 17 Sept 2009

In the second of this episode's Conservation Week stories, Alison Ballance headed to Nelson. First up she was off to the Paremata Flats Reserve on the shores of Delaware Inlet, to join Julie McLintock and more than 30 Forest and Bird members and Cable Bay locals on a tree planting day. Then she was off to find out about trapping predators.

Earlier this year Don Sullivan and a team of 30 trappers were awarded Forest and Bird's Pestbuster award for their efforts in trapping predators at four forest sites around Nelson. According to Forest and Bird they trapped 530 pests in the year to 1 May 2009 and are already hearing the benefits of their work with increased birdsong.

The team's tally for the year was 234 possums, 204 rats, 69 mice, 14 hedgehogs, six stoats and three weasels using 325 traps. Don has also spent much time and his own money building 1000 traps, some of which he has given to other pest control groups. Alison caught up with Don and the Marsden Valley trapping group.

John Kendrick and his Radio Bird Calls (28'32") 10 Sept 2009

For nearly forty years, bird calls have been a regular and much loved feature of Morning Report. This year Forest and Bird honoured the man behind those bird calls with an Old Blue Award for his services to conservation. Alison Ballance met with John Kendrick at the Karori Sanctuary in Wellington to hear about his career as a wildlife sound recordist and film-maker with the New Zealand Wildlife Service, and to find out how the bird calls came about.

The Morning Report team also caught up with John to congratulate him on his award, and you can listen to all the bird calls, and see pictures of the birds, on Radio New Zealand's website.

Are Weeds Taking Over? (11'25") 8 Sept 2009

Interview by Radio NZ's Kathryn Ryan - Lynley Hayes is a research leader at Landcare Research, Lincoln University, studying bio-control of weeds.

Did Moa Influence How Lancewoods Grow? (12'50") 3 Sept 2009

Kevin Burns (above) from Victoria University of Wellington and a team of scientists have tested whether leaf colour changes in the lancewood plant (Pseudopanax crassifolius) may have been part of a defensive strategy against the now extinct moa. They tested this hypothesis in the lab, and the results were recently published in New Phytologist.

The team used spectrographic measurements on different-sized plants grown in a common garden and compared these results with observations on a closely related species that evolved in the absence of moa on the Chatham Islands. While animals often use colours to advertise defences or hide from predators, there is little evidence for colour-based defence in plants.

Their spectrographic analyses showed that birds would have difficulty distinguishing seedling leaves against a background of leaf litter (see image left above). The brightly coloured tissues next to the spines on the sapling leaves, on the other hand, are highly conspicuous to birds (see image right above). The Chatham Island species lacks these colour changes completely. The results suggest that the plants did in fact adapt to limit predation.

New Zealand Inventory of Biodiversity (13'14") 13 Aug 2009

Ten years ago a large group of scientists began reviewing and creating an inventory of all of New Zealand's life throughout time. The results of that Herculean labour are finally showing fruit, with the launch last month of the first of three volumes of the New Zealand Inventory of Biodiversity (published by Canterbury University Press). Volume one covers three branches of the animal kingdom: Radiata, which includes sponges, comb jellies, and cnidarians (corals, jellyfish and their kin); Lophotrochozoa (shelled and worm-like groups) and Deuterostomes which includes all vertebrates and echinoderms (sea stars, sea eggs), half chordates and sea squirts.

To find out more about the astonishing array of animals in the book Alison Ballance visited Andrew Stewart in the fish collection at Te Papa Tongarewa, and caught up with book editor Dennis Gordon at NIWA, the National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research.

Veronika Meduna spoke with Dennis Gordon about his favourite group of creatures - bryozoa - and process of creating the Inventory of New Zealand life, in February 2009, and in 2007 Dacia Herbulock spoke with Dennis Gordon about the Catalogue of Life project.

Fiordland Islands Restoration (12'54") 30 July 2009

Two weeks ago Resolution Island, which lies at the entrance to Dusky Sound in Fiordland, was in the news as the epicentre of a magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Six years ago, Secretary Island, at the entrance to Doubtful Sound, was in the news for much the same reason, with a 7.1 magnitude earthquake bringing down many slips on the island. During both earthquakes, a handful of Department of Conservation staff were among the few people in this remote uninhabited part of the country. They were in the area tackling the sizeable problem of introduced deer and stoats on two of the country's largest islands: Secretary Island is over 8000 hectares in size, while Resolution is more than 20,000 hectares. Earlier this year in Te Anau Alison Ballance caught up with some of the key members of DoC's Fiordland Islands restoration team, including Kerri-Anne Edge, Megan Willans, Peter McMurtrie and Dave Crouchley. The Fiordland Islands restoration project was recently voted one of the top 25 Australasian restoration projects.

Fossil Hunt (13'33") 11 Jun 2009

A maar crater inland from Dunedin was formed by a volcanic explosion about 23 million years ago, and probably filled up with water very quickly. The lake had no outlets and experienced very little disturbance - hence the layers of sediment are still intact and contain some of the best preserved fossils in New Zealand.

Among the fossils are complete fish and insects and leaves of several plants, including a fern which now only exists on the Three Kings islands and in some Northland forests, several leaves that haven't been found anywhere else in New Zealand, and two examples of orchids, which are the only organically preserved specimens worldwide.

University of Otago palaeontologist Daphne Lee and her colleagues, geologist Jon Lindqvist and plant taxonomist Jennifer Bannister, say the forests around the lake were similar to those found in Thailand today, suggesting that Otago experienced a much warmer climate back then, during a period known to geologists as the Oligocene.

New Zealand Ferns (13'55") 7 May 2009

Leon Perrie and Patrick Brownsey are botanists with the Museum of New Zealand - Te Papa Tongarewa. They were involved in solving the mystery behind the hen and chickens fern, in which it turned out that there is a native New Zealand species, and another hybrid species which is the one commonly sold in garden centres. Leon Perrie was recently involved in the rediscovery a fern that had been missing for 50 years. Following publicity after the rediscovery of the maidenhair spleenwort he received several possible sightings and has confirmed a new locality with about 70 plants in it, which is good news for the elusive plant.

New Zealand's Most Famous Plant (13'41") 30 Apr 2009

There are nearly 200 species of native ferns in New Zealand, and a growing number of introduced ferns. Fern expert Patrick Brownsey co-authored "New Zealand Ferns and Allied Plants", and he is an internationally respected biosystematist and herbarium curator who manages the herbarium WELT at Te Papa Tongarewa, the Museum of New Zealand. He was awarded the 2008 Allan Mere by the New Zealand Botanical Society for an outstanding contribution to New Zealand botany. Te Papa botanist Leon Perrie has been investigating the molecular history of New Zealand ferns.

Threatened Plants List (26'31") 26 Mar 2009

An updated threat classification for New Zealand plants, published in the latest issue of the New Zealand Journal of Botany, ranks well over a third of our native species as threatened. And the situation is getting worse, not better, with a 60% increase in the number of critically endangered plants in just 4 years. Department of Conservation threatened plant botanists Peter de Lange and John Sawyer discuss why over one-third (38%) of the native flora is now included as threatened or uncommon. For information on threatened New Zealand native plants check out the New Zealand Plant Conservation Network.

Gordon Ell on Gardening for Wildlife (11'50") 26 Mar 2009

Gordon Ell's first book on bird gardening, Encouraging Birds in the New Zealand Garden, was published in 1981. His latest book features bird photographs by Geoff Moon and others, and includes advice on how to entice lizards, insects and other animals into a garden. It also includes an illustrated directory of 34 of the most common visiting and resident garden birds, and instructions for building bird tables, nest boxes and establishing a nature pond. Attracting Birds and other Wildlife to your Garden in New Zealand, by Gordon Ell, is published by New Holland.

Changing Land Use Threatens Native Plants (2'28") 26 Mar 2009

A new survey shows changing land use is having a major impact on native plant species.

The Hihi at Pukaha Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre (13'37") 6 Mar 2009

The hihi - or stitchbird - is a small nectar drinking native with some unusual characteristics. Once common on the mainland, it is now found only on Little Barrier, Kapiti, Tiritiri Matangi islands as well as the Karori Wildlife Centre and the Waitakere ranges in Auckland. Pukaha Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre in the Wairapapa, a haven for many threatened species, has been working since 1998 to produce hihi chicks for release. Amelia Nurse meets breeding ranger Darren Page at feeding time, and while she's there, visits a couple of tuatara.

New Zealand Inventory of Biodiversity (13'32") 26 Feb 2009

Worldwide, nearly 1.8 million species have been formally named and described since the 1750s, when Carolus Linnaeus, the "father of taxonomy", started this task. However, there is no single place that one can go to look up a list of all those species. For this reason, Species 2000 was launched at a 1996 workshop in Manila, Philippines, with the goal of enumerating all known species of organisms on Earth (animals, plants, fungi, and microbes) into one seamless list - a kind of online telephone directory.

The New Zealand Inventory of Biodiversity, edited by Dennis Gordon, a taxonomist at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, is the New Zealand contribution to the global catalogue of species. All three volumes are published by Canterbury University Press. Volume I, which focuses on the animal kingdom, goes to press this week and will be in the bookshops in May - but it can be ordered online.

Tiritiri Matangi Island: Return Of The Forest (12'47") 27 Nov 2008

Tiritiri Matangi Island, in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf, is a scientific reserve, an open sanctuary and one of New Zealand's great island restoration projects. In the first of a series of features from the island, Alison Ballance talks with Department of Conservation ranger David Jenkins and volunteer Val Smytheman, from the Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi, about the island's history and its restoration journey from farm to bush, and catches up with Mike Graham from the Ornithological Society of New Zealand during a regular bird monitoring trip. Over the next four weeks Our Changing World will feature more stories from Tiritiri Matangi: hihi monitoring, robin research, a kokako nest search and a walk in the dark in search of the island's night life.

Plant Me Instead (13'16") 9 Oct 2008

There it is, your garden staring at you in that weed me, plant me, trim me, prune me and mow me sort of way. But what to pull out and what to plant? Sometimes it's difficult differentiating between natives and non-natives - and also spotting those nasty invasive species. The Department of Conservation's John Sawyer visits Amelia Nurse's garden to tell her what should stay, what should go and what to plant instead.
John Sawyer is one of the compilers of Plant Me Instead, a book that gives home gardeners, landscapers and garden centre staff suggestions of native and exotic plant species that can be used in the lower half of North Island as alternatives to pest plants or environmental weeds.

Lord Howe Island Natives (18'09") 18 Sep 2008

It's a spectacular piece of rock rising up out of the Tasman Sea. Ian Hutton works there protecting native plants and animals.

The Sunday Group: Kereru Pie (37'22") 14 Sep 2008

While the Department of Conservation fights a losing battle to control pests and save the country's biodiversity, the Sunday Group looks at whether the 'hands off' approach to our native plants and animals is working. In some parts of the world endangered species are being saved because they've been given a commercial value which ensures protection of both the species and their habitats. Could it work here?
Bryan Crump chairs a panel that includes: Professor Grahame Webb from the Crocodylus Park in Darwin; Dr Brendan Moyle, a Senior Lecturer in Economics in the Department of Commerce at Massey University; and Forest and Bird's advocacy manager Kevin Hackwell.

Makara Foreshore Reserve (12'43") 21 Aug 2008

At the end of the road to Makara Beach on Wellington's west coast is a windswept, flat and barren-seeming patch of coastal land, marked with a sign and a low chain-link fence. On closer inspection, a visitor will see that the coarse sand and gravel inside is covered with springy, ground-hugging mat plants and tufts of silvery sand grass. This is the tiny Makara Foreshore Reserve, the result of nearly a decade of hard work from two tireless plant enthusiasts, Barbara Mitcalfe and Chris Horne (pictured below). The pair have just been given the 2008 Lifetime Achievement award from the New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. They took a break from their weeding to show Dacia Herbulock how the reserve's native plants are rewarding their efforts, and explained why coastal ecosystem restoration is so important.

Plant Invaders (12'24") 29 May 2008

Philip Hulme studies plant biosecurity at the National Centre for Advanced Bio-Protection Technologies based at Lincoln University. He speaks to Dacia Herbulock about the importance of a global perspective on biological invasions, and the relevance of science to biosecurity in New Zealand.

Dactylanthus - A Native Parasitic Flowering Plant (13'01") 21 Sep 2006

Dean Williams discusses one of NZ's most unusual threatened plants, Dactylanthus taylorii, with Avi Holzapfel from DOC.