Over lockdown 2.0, we talked with Mark Garry, owner of Pacific Coast Kayaking about his passion to help Onerahi become predator free. He got involved in the Tiakina Whangārei Predator Free Onerahi group as a trapper to keep his own backyard free of rats.
He noticed large numbers of possums and rats within the suburb, especially as they chewed their way through much of the bush fringes.
How did you initially get involved in the Predator Free Onerahi group?
“It was a no-brainer to get involved and after seeing the Tiakina team down at the Onerahi New World. I learned more and set up three trap boxes at the back of my section. Success came easily and now I’m hooked. I’m learning more about pest behaviour and getting excellent information from the group, so the enthusiasm is easy to maintain.
“Talking to others, I find there is universal support for a predator free Whangārei. I’ve distributed traps around Onerahi and encouraged people to get involved. As a relief teacher, I’ve chatted to eco-warrior students at Whangārei Intermediate and I find that pest control is a very good fit with curriculum units on Sustainability and Kaitiakitanga. These are embraced by our young students. Traps have been set around the school and students monitor them themselves.
“I believe this is the way of the future. Students could really feel empowered when addressing this and other environmental issues. They could really make a difference.”
What drives you personally to do this mahi?
“Seeing broken bird eggs by my puriri tree every year really fired me up to go after rats and possums. They do so much damage to our birdlife, as well as stoats of course.
“As a sea kayaking operator, I have noticed massive degeneration and loss over the years in bush and wetlands not to mention pollution of our estuaries. I’ve come to realise it’s time to pay back and pay it forward to the next generation. And, I might as well be more active while doing this work, too.
“There is so much to do but with everyone involved, a Predator Free Whangārei is an achievable goal…. we’re all in this together!”
In your own opinion, why is it beneficial to Whangārei to be a predator free city?
“I believe the number one benefit would be reestablishing our native wildlife to its former glory, especially the birdlife. There will also be massive forest areas and wetlands that will recover and our biodiversity will improve, as will our own mental health.
“Our community will be united to take an active interest in repairing our environment and caring for our waterways and bush overall. If we are all more aware of our environment and keeping it safe, we will be encouraged to tackle other threats, too – pollution, waste, dumping, plastics and plant pests.
“When tourism returns, Whangārei will become known as a destination for nature lovers, walkers and people wanting to explore our healthy ecosystems. Whangārei Heads and the Bream Head Trust have led the way and are receiving national and international recognition (and funding) for their work. We will extend and build on this model to make all of Whangārei predator free.”
“There is no doubt that controlling pests has economic as well as social value.”
Come and join us
“Give back to the environment in a very significant way while improving your own mental and physical health. It should not be forgotten that rats are carriers of disease and not only damaging to wildlife but damaging our homes and food as well. Together, rats and possums and other pests cause significant economic damage.”