As with previous local board elections, the Great Barrier Island Environmental Trust has contacted all of this year’s candidates for their views on some of the key environmental issues facing Aotea│Great Barrier Island and its community.  All but one of the seven candidates responded to our questions, and also provided their photographs.  Their responses are printed below, unedited, in alphabetical order of the candidate’s last name. 


 Bill Carlin

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1. What is your personal vision for the restoration of Aotea’s environment? That is, our waterways, forests, estuaries, dunes, beaches and seas?

My vision for the long- term restoration of the Barrier is to target an outcome as close to pre human as practical for those areas not dedicated to human use. The result would see all introduced wild predators and invasive introduced plants eradicated. To achieve the result will take a long time and require the use of all existing techniques and any new methods proven reliable and safe. The initial steps towards the vision would involve the reduction of targeted pest species in priority sites and the ongoing control of the sites. The reintroduction of species such as bellbird, kokako, and kiwi along with enhancing populations of seabirds, pateke, kakariki, and bats would be useful initiatives toward the long-term goal.

2. What practical biosecurity steps would you take, if elected, to ensure that the island’s wildlife and ecosystems are protected from further invasions of unwanted plant and animal pests?

Residents and visitors should all receive up to date information on unwanted plants and animals. The airlines, Sealink and visiting boats should all receive direct and continuing updates on target pests, their detection, dangers and control methods.

3. Will you take concrete steps towards a rat and feral cat free Aotea Great Barrier, working with iwi, DOC, landowners and others as the people of Rakiura have recently done?

I will advocate for rat and feral cat control by Council staff, DOC and residents. Recent initiatives to control these pests will be supported and continually reviewed for progress.

4. What opportunities do you see for sustainable ecotourism for Aotea and how will you promote these?

The key opportunities for sustainable tourism are targeting people interested in nature conservation for guided tours and providing accommodation in tune with the natural world. By marketing the Island’s efforts to protect, restore and enhance the Barrier’s environment many opportunities for specialised tours will exist. This strategy would also exist for visiting the many historic sites on the Barrier. A particularly good opportunity for ecotourism would exist if a series of marine reserves were established. These self- restoring sites are especially valued by many people. I will strongly advocate for a process to achieve a group of marine reserves as well as better protection for all other marine areas of the island from exploitation and over- fishing.

5. If elected, what are you prepared to do to ensure birds like pateke, dotterels and penguins are protected from being killed by dogs on Aotea?

The most practical step to protect pateke, dotterel and penguin from dogs is to ban them from all core breeding habitats and enforce the ban. I would also seek to discourage visitors from bringing dogs (or cats) to the island.


Luke Coles

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1. What is your personal vision for the restoration of Aotea’s environment? That is, our waterways, forests, estuaries, dunes, beaches and seas?

During my time on the local board, I have been advocating heavily for the restoration of waterways. With my focus mostly being on riparian planting. My views align with the ecology vision, so I take my lead from that document on making decisions regarding the future of Aotea’s environment.

2. What practical biosecurity steps would you take, if elected, to ensure that the island’s wildlife and ecosystems are protected from further invasions of unwanted plant and animal pests?

I have recently been advocating for on-island quarantine zones to slow down and eliminate the spread of pests from the main land to Aotea. During consultation, and further investigation, it seems that the better way to approach these things is with increased biosecurity checks at the wharves and airports before people come to the island. Auckland Council is planning to fund this accordingly, and I back these initiatives.

3. Will you take concrete steps towards a rat and feral cat free Aotea Great Barrier, working with iwi, DOC, landowners and others as the people of Rakiura have recently done?

There are a lot of questions within that one question. Rat and cat free, I would love to see how that would work honestly. I don’t see how we could do this yet. The ecology vision is based on a tapestry of oasis’s of high biodiversity areas of the island, supporting the island’s ecology as a whole. The idea of an island-wide eradication of cats and rats, brings up so many more questions. The cats main diet is mammals (mostly rabbits, but also rats).  Would I like to see cats eradicated off this island without a plan to control rabbits at the same time? Probably not. (I do, however, support the trapping programs). Even if we had the technology - which we still don’t have - to safely eliminate cats and rats simultaneously, we would still have mice and rabbits doing a lot of damage as well. Let’s say we have a plan for all these pests as well. This island is too large to do an eradication via trapping. The next answer is aerial dropping rodenticides over 250 square kilometres of land mass, which has 1000 people living on it. Which I do not support.

However, if the plan is to invest in biological controls that could eradicate, or at least severely limit numbers of these pests, I’m totally in. Since the green party are in power they have put a hold on any gene editing technology development so that won’t be happening any time soon.

4. What opportunities do you see for sustainable ecotourism for Aotea and how will you promote these?

I see ample opportunity for eco-tourism on Aotea. However, my current feelings are, as amazing as eco-tourism is, and it DOES have my full support, I think my focus this term (if elected) will be on industries that have more economic stability in times of recession. The health of the environment is always at the forefront of my decisions. Promises of jobs from eco-tourism is not what I will be about this term, Alternatively the idea of Aotea as a living laboratory with eco-education at the fore-front is highly appealing to me and one of the reasons why the current LB funded a business case for a research facility in the Glenfern Sanctuary.

5. If elected, what are you prepared to do to ensure birds like pateke, dotterels and penguins are protected from being killed by dogs on Aotea?

I believe there is fault in this question. To say that protecting birds is as simple as being against dogs, is polarising and it divides the people. Many people actually see dogs as part of the family or as best friends.  There is no point in getting dogs off the beaches, where dotterels are nesting for example, if motorbikes and horses are still allowed there. To make sure that we all appreciate and respect the delicacy of the ecosystems the whole community needs to come along for the ride. 


Sue Daly

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1. What is your personal vision for the restoration of Aotea’s environment? That is, our waterways, forests, estuaries, dunes, beaches and seas?

My vision is that we’ve levelled the playing field; mammalian pests are gone, humans are respectful guardians, and evolution resumes its natural trajectory.

2. What practical biosecurity steps would you take, if elected, to ensure that the island’s wildlife and ecosystems are protected from further invasions of unwanted plant and animal pests?

I’d support the new Pest Free Hauraki Gulf programme which requires commercial operators and suppliers to have Pest Free Warrants. I’d enhance the ambassador programme that employs locals to talk to travelers on the boats and planes, and I’d increase education and information through all media.

3. Will you take concrete steps towards a rat and feral cat free Aotea Great Barrier, working with iwi, DOC, landowners and others as the people of Rakiura have recently done?

Yes.


4. What opportunities do you see for sustainable ecotourism for Aotea and how will you promote these?

Where ecotourism balances it’s ecological footprint I would support Destination Great Barrier Island to promote any/all new initiatives.

5. If elected, what are you prepared to do to ensure birds like pateke, dotterels and penguins are protected from being killed by dogs on Aotea?

There are perfectly reasonable dog rules on our island. They just need adherence and enforcement. Animal Control must be supported to enforce the rules and dog-owners need to care and comply. Most do.


Izzy Fordham

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1. What is your personal vision for the restoration of Aotea’s environment? That is, our waterways, forests, estuaries, dunes, beaches and seas?

My personal vision for the restoration of Aotea’s environment would be to have our waterways crystal clean, our forests healthy and regenerating with Kauri Dieback a thing of the past.  Our estuaries, dunes, beaches and seas would coexist in harmony being able to fulfil the ecosystem roles they play.  Our sea life would be plentiful and free from marine pests. A network of marine protected areas would be established that met the community’s needs enabling the enhancement of marine ecosystems whilst allowing for a sustainable local harvest. 

2. What practical biosecurity steps would you take, if elected, to ensure that the island’s wildlife and ecosystems are protected from further invasions of unwanted plant and animal pests?

I would push for stronger biosecurity checks on the mainland before freight, vehicles and people depart for Aotea. This practice could be enhanced by some form of quarantine process adopted on island. These “practical” steps could include better biosecurity education for visitors. A biosecurity dog and handler should be checking every barge sailing. The same could also apply to the airlines. I support the growing and supply of eco sourced plants to the community as a big step forward in positive biosecurity.

I’m delighted to see both Okiwi Green and the new Aotea Community Native Plant Nursery collaborating in an effort to get eco sourced plants grown and available on the island. I was horrified with the recent discovery of “Sea Squirt” in Port FitzRoy especially as it has never been found  in New Zealand waters before.  I would like to see us adopt some sort of Clean Vessel Pass similar to the Fiordland Marine Regional Pathway Management Plan. This would ensure all visiting boats comply with a Clean Hull Standard, a Clean Gear Standard and a Residual Seawater Standard. 

3. Will you take concrete steps towards a rat and feral cat free Aotea Great Barrier, working with iwi, DOC, landowners and others as the people of Rakiura have recently done?

I assume when you refer to “others” you are referring to the community of Aotea. I do think it is dangerous to be too singularly focused on a couple of specific pests and any management process should have a holistic approach. I have watched with interest what they are doing on Stewart Island / Rakiura. I have visited the island and was most impressed with their community care and leadership around pest control. They have an excellent Environmental Trust there called SIRCET (Stewart Island / Rakiura Community & Environmental Trust) and I’ve always felt the model that they operate under with close community involvement would work well on Aotea. The Trustees, all volunteers, are made up of members of the local community with two  employees: one is the Pest Manager and the other is the Project Administrator. Any steps towards a rat and feral cat free Aotea Great Barrier will always be dependent on informed unbiased community consultation and participation. The community working with iwi, DoC and landowners must agree on a clear pathway towards management and control. Which is exactly what has happened on Rakiura recently with the setting up of Predator Free Rakiura. Predator Free Rakiura is a new Government funded initiative. I understand they received substantial funding to employ a Project Manager  to develop a strategy of how to achieve pest free status.  As the community is not keen on hand or aerial broadcasts of bait, they will be looking at trapping along with the latest science and technology. They have a signed Memorandum of Understanding with 13 parties. It is definitely something Aotea should be keeping an eye on.

4. What opportunities do you see for sustainable ecotourism for Aotea and how will you promote these?

Aotea has great potential for sustainable ecotourism despite the carbon footprint to get here!! I think the work that was done with the island’s “Visitor’s Strategy” will always remain a good starting point as we look at sustainable tourism.  Updating this strategy is crucial if the island community is going to keep control of any tourism. Aotea’s Sustainable ecotourism could be promoted as a place where visitors are encouraged to be mindful of not wasting resources and polluting our environment.  To consider what they are bringing to the Island, to buy locally and to support the local economy. Promote Aotea as a destination where the visitor and locals alike have a good understanding about our natural and cultural heritage and how they are managed. A destination with a difference, we do live off the grid and we have some of the best night skies in the world. 

5. If elected, what are you prepared to do to ensure birds like pateke, dotterels and penguins are protected from being killed by dogs on Aotea?

I believe it’s about an education program and  educating our dog owners about the impact their pets can have on our endangered birds. I would like to see all dogs (and their owners)  go through a compulsory regular bird aversion training course. These courses could also be held during the summer holidays to capture our visitors. I don’t think it’s too much to ask folk to please adhere to our rules and regulations around dogs being on our beaches, parks and tracks. I would support more monitoring and if necessary compliance. With all due respect, dog owners need to take full control and responsibility for their pets.


Catherine Munro

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1. What is your personal vision for the restoration of Aotea’s environment? That is, our waterways, forests, estuaries, dunes, beaches and seas?

My vision for Aotea’s environment is to have a forest dense with native flora and fauna.  It is important to prevent kauri dieback spreading to other trees and to bring back our beautiful kokako which once occupied Great Barrier Island.  In regards to moana restoration we need to utilise matauranga Maori (traditional knowledge) to have our taonga within Te Moana nui o Toi restored.  Everything is connected, so what affects our seas, affects our beaches, dunes and so on.  To do this we need to integrate the Hauraki Gulf Spatial Plan into our decision making as a means to govern, protect and replenish the abundance that once existed.  Our native seabird numbers on Aotea have declined for a variety of reasons.  I would like to see a seabird sanctuary established on Rakitu Island that is safe from pests and can support population growth to a thriving state. 

2. What practical biosecurity steps would you take, if elected, to ensure that the island’s wildlife and ecosystems are protected from further invasions of unwanted plant and animal pests?

Pest invasions can occur for a number of reasons, through storms, flotsam, boats and luggage.  We are fortunate to have two biosecurity officers on Aotea and a number of outstanding community organisations who work hard to prevent and eliminate unwanted plant and animals pests from developing strongholds.  This needs to be funded and our community groups need resourcing to implement pest management programmes. It is a big job that demands constant attention.  Another step is through promoting the issue via notices and local media during peak season so that people are aware of unwanted plants and pests and know what they can do to help.

3. Will you take concrete steps towards a rat and feral cat free Aotea Great Barrier, working with iwi, DOC, landowners and others as the people of Rakiura have recently done?

Our native species are a priority over rats and feral cats. In order for any action to be sustainable it needs to be planned alongside iwi, DOC, landowners and the community.

4. What opportunities do you see for sustainable ecotourism for Aotea and how will you promote these?

I see a number of opportunities, at this stage if elected I would adhere to the visitor strategy as a guideline to future proof facilities and support small businesses and entrepreneurs. The Dark Sky Santuary is a great asset for Aotea which can connect to early Maori navigation.  There is potential to partner with other organisations in Auckland to access resources and support seminars/talks on Aotea.  This can be promoted through ATEED and our local media.

5. If elected, what are you prepared to do to ensure birds like pateke, dotterels and penguins are protected from being killed by dogs on Aotea?

Our pateke, dotterels and penguins are in decline which needs attention.  There is an opportunity to gain feedback from the community around dog management and develop a plan to have all dogs on leads in high risk areas for those species. 


Valmaine Toki

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1.  What is your personal vision for the restoration of Aotea’s environment? That is, our waterways, forests, estuaries, dunes, beaches and seas?

My vision is to protect our environment from pollution - maintain the unique quality of our environment - manage our environment sustainability for future generations. In the event that restoration is required - then to engage practices that are consistent with our uniqueness and tikanga.

For instance, encourage the replanting of natives - specifically in areas that are vulnerable to coastal erosion - and in areas where the water is quality is below standard plant natives that will assist to filter the water to return quality of the water.

2. What practical biosecurity steps would you take, if elected, to ensure that the island’s wildlife and ecosystems are protected from further invasions of unwanted plant and animal pests?

Maintain diligence at the points of entry for any possible biosecurity violations - this should be extended to our airport - this will mean employment (possibly with wardens) - this monitoring should increase as the tourist/visit numbers increase.

3. Will you take concrete steps towards a rat and feral cat free Aotea Great Barrier, working with iwi, DOC, landowners and others as the people of Rakiura have recently done?

Absolutely. 


4. What opportunities do you see for sustainable ecotourism for Aotea and how will you promote these?

Yes, there are opportunities - perhaps through licensed guided eco tours both on land and water - this should include an educational component for our tourists so they understand and respect the unique pristine nature of our home. 

5.  If elected, what are you prepared to do to ensure birds like pateke, dotterels and penguins are protected from being killed by dogs on Aotea?

Improved monitoring of our beaches to ensure that where dogs are not to be on beaches this is maintained/enforced and if required to be on a leash - leashed. Ensure the mandatory licensing of dogs. Sudsidised bird:dog programmes to encourage all dog owners to complete this course to help ensure that our pateke, dotterels and penguins are protected.

All of these options/answers require financial support and tautoko this.


Patrick O’Shea

Unfortunately no response.