Wouldn’t it be great if the Department of Conservation got a little more enthusiastic about the national park around which the vast majority of its taxpaying funders live. I’m talking about the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park.
It should be DoC’s showcase reserve. Somewhere to demonstrate the department’s conservation skills to those of us who pay the bills. To say nothing of raising much-needed funds off fee-paying tourists. But nearly eight years after the Conservation Minister at the time, Sandra Lee, signed legislation marking what she declared was our first “national park of the sea”, it still hasn’t been formally opened.
If it hadn’t been for constant pressuring over subsequent years of ministers such as Lee and Chris Carter, with the odd shove from Prime Minister Helen Clark, one suspects that what progress there has been would not have occurred.
‘Extinct’ sea bird once again caught in the Hauraki Gulf
The once presumed extinct New Zealand storm petrel has again been recently captured in the Hauraki Gulf but its breeding site remains a mystery.
A team including Department of Conservation staff and scientists, funded jointly by DOC and a grant from National Geographic’s Committee for Research and Exploration, caught three birds during October and early November this year. This brings the tally to seven birds captured since the petrel was rediscovered by Dr Stephenson and Sav Saville of the coast of Whitianga in January 2003.
Ornithologist Dr Stephenson, who snared two birds with one shot using a custom-made net gun, said the moment was unforgettable.
“It’s not everyday you get to hold a seabird that for 150 years was thought to be extinct, let alone hold two.”
None of the captured birds showed signs of breeding, so the birds were released without attaching transmitters, said Dr Stephenson. The transmitters are used to track the birds with the aim of discovering which island they are breeding on.