Tuesday, 12 August 2014

White Heron?


by Derek Onley
Over the last few months I've been rung a fair few times by people living around Blueskin Bay and Waikouaiti to say there's a white heron in the area, often adding that this is the first time they've regularly seen one since the 1990s. Unfortunately, far from being deservedly thanked for bothering to call and report it, they are hit by a barrage of questions: where was it, what was it doing, how big was it, what colour was it's beak, it's legs? No one has yet said "It was a white heron dammit", and rung off, which is very tolerant of them. And a good thing, because once or twice the interrogation has revealed that they more likely saw a cattle egret than a white heron and in one case possibly even a little egret. So how do you tell these white herony birds apart?
First of all you have to eliminate Spoonbills. Not difficult if you see them close up: big black spoon shaped bill! A bit harder at a distance, but compared to other herons they have relatively short necks and legs and spend most of their time asleep, bill irritatingly tucked under their back feathers, or feeding by walking through shallow water, head down, waggling their bill from side to side. They fly with their neck and bill stretched out in front and legs trailing behind and have relatively shallow, faster wing beats compared with white herons. All the other herons have deep, slow rounded wing beats and fly with their necks tucked in, except when they get excited during the breeding season. Part of their display includes flying around croaking and grunting with neck outstretched.
So that leaves the white heron or cattle egret and possibly the rarer little egret. For once the names are a help. If you see a white heron feeding amongst cattle, even nipping in close around their hooves to pick up disturbed insects or squashed worms, then it will be a cattle egret. Elsewhere the best way to tell cattle egrets from white herons is by size. White herons are big and have very long, skinny necks. You are unlikely to see a white heron alongside cattle unless there is a decent water-filled ditch nearby, as was the case last year on the Waikouaiti racecourse. But if you did, it would easily reach half way up a cattle beast's flank, whereas a cattle egret would barely reach its belly. White herons would not deem to stoop to associating with cattle but stalk their prey slowly and sedately among reeds or along the edges of rivers and ponds. However, they have been known to demean themselves by grabbing silvereyes from bird tables.
During autumn and winter, when white herons and cattle egrets are in Otago, they both have yellow bills. Little egrets have black bills and, as their name implies, are about cattle egret sized but slimmer and longer necked; in shape, more like a white heron. Little egrets feed in much the same places as white herons but are less sedate, skittishly chasing after fish with their wings half-open.
The local white herons are likely to be birds from the breeding colony at Okarito, West Coast. They disperse from there throughout New Zealand over autumn and winter, often to the same place year after year. Last year however, an unprecedented number of white herons, accompanied by the odd little egret, arrived from Australia and, at one stage, there were six together at Tomahawk Lagoon in Dunedin. They left over summer – to where, who knows – but a few have since returned and maybe the local bird is one of these?
The lone cattle egret that has been around the area may well be the one that was first seen two winters ago at Seacliff. Cattle egrets also come over from Australia in the autumn. In the late '70s and '80s thousands would fly across the Tasman to New Zealand each autumn, part of a world wide colonisation that started in Africa earlier in the century. The Cherry Farm dairy herd attracted up to 70 in the early '90s. They never colonised New Zealand, however, and only a couple of flocks of that size now visit the country. Our cattle egret is either a long lived survivor from the '90s or a rather lost, more recent arrival from Australia.
Please continue to tell me of any sightings of white herons (derekonley@yahoo.com or 03 482 2831). Hopefully I'll no longer have to subject you to an interrogation. Though, come to think of it, I might have to check that you haven't seen an intermediate egret.

New School Bus Shelter for Evansdale


by the editors
One day, school bus driver Ernie Mason was chatting to Mark Brown about the fact that there was no bus shelter at Evansdale for the school children he picked up in the morning. There were existing bus shelters at Seacliff, Warrington and Waitati, but no weather protection at Evansdale.
Mark made some enquiries and found out that Totalspan Ltd had a bus shelter programme. Mark then went overseas on holiday and passed the job on to Alasdair Morrison who liaised with Totalspan, and the local authorities regarding the location of the shelter, and looked after a few other bureaucratic issues.
George Terry of Cargill Contracting Ltd. joined in and soon had the concrete foundation in place. Then, with the valuable assistance of local builder Colin Thom, joined by local resident Mark Cowien and Mark Brown back from holiday, the shelter was assembled and in place in time for the start of the new school term on Monday 21 July. By coincidence, it was raining that day!
So a big thank you is due to all of these gentlemen, and a huge thank you to Totalspan Ltd for providing the bus shelter, free of charge, as part of their ‘Undercover Kids’ bus shelter programme.

Volunteers Needed for Orokonui Estuary


by Wendy Harrex
In 2012 and 2013 many Waitati people took part in planting thousands of native trees and plants in the estuary as part of a project funded by Living Legends in partnership with DOC. The aim? To turn a large area of heavily grassed and wet pasture into a thriving natural wetland and lowland forest.
The reserve is already an important area for whitebait and wading birds. If we succeed in re-establishing the native vegetation, the whole reserve will link with the Orokonui Ecosanctuary to provide more foraging habitat for its birds. For humans, it is already a great place for a stroll or pottering around on the river – when the trees grow, it will be sheltered and a perfect place for a picnic.
This downstream part of the estuary is spray free. In the summer the grass grows incredibly strongly. With thousands of plants and only a few people looking after them, many plants are in danger of being overwhelmed. From this August until May, we will be weeding and releasing plants on the last Sunday morning of each month. We need many more people for the coming season. Come and join us at the Living Legends site off Foyle Street on Sunday 31 August, 10.00 to 12.30. DOC has provided gloves and tools for us to work with. If we get enough people, we want to increase our work at the estuary to two days a month this season, as that will beat the grass. If you want to be on the mailing list and come along, email volunteerscoastalota@doc.govt.nz

WOO News


by Hilary Rowley
Everyone I have spoken to about gardening had a bad year in the vegetable garden and in the glasshouse due to the wet summer last season. You know things are bad when you can keep up with the zucchini plants and hardly have any to give away. Unfortunately, climate change modeling points to us having a wet climate in future, so we shall just have to figure this one out.
This summer, however, is predicted to have an early El Niño system, meaning a dry spring and early summer. This will be nice for a change, as long as it lasts long enough for everyone to have a decent summer holiday.
Dealing with dampness in your garden involves a couple of strategies. Drainage can be achieved with raised bed gardens, installing drainage coil to take away excess water, or drainage ditches dug strategically (where you won’t end up tripping into them all the time). You can encourage lighter, more free-draining soil with the addition of humus. Adding gypsum to the garden will help break up boggy clay. We found that waste Gib board from our house build was perfect smashed up and dug into the garden as it is made of gypsum; in fact, there is a guy in Auckland who makes a living breaking up waste Gib board from Auckland building sites and turning it into salable gypsum.
Slugs are a big problem in wet years. I find that if we use mulch in a wet spring, we lose all the seedling to slugs who shelter comfortably under a nice shady mulch all day before venturing out at night for a feed. I have tried lots of organic methods and only a few seem to work reasonably well. A moat of salty beach sand  works really well. It is the salt which does the trick, as it makes slugs dissolve if they touch it. However, there are a couple of down sides; the salt will eventually wash away and lose its effectiveness, and you may end up with  a build-up of salt in the garden. I have never seen any sign of this, but it is possible. Beer traps work but they do need replacing frequently as they fill up with rain water. Hunting slugs at night with a torch and tin can of salty warm water is really effective and satisfying if you have been despairing as the little buggers eat all your beautiful  healthy seedlings. At night hundreds of slugs can be seen sliming their way over your garden. All you have to do then is pick them up and drop them in the can. You need to do this fairly often as the population of slugs in a Blueskin Bay garden must number in the thousands.
Fungus will also be a problem in a wet garden, and I am forever ranting on about it in this column. I have so far concluded that a non-toxic, slightly acidic or slightly alkaline substance (a mild solution of vinegar or baking soda) sprayed on your plants should be just enough to deter fungus spores from spreading.
Avoid if you can plants that can’t handle damp conditions. This is a hard one, though, as each year’s weather can be so variable. Gardening is like life: you have to weigh up future possibilities using all the skills and knowledge at your disposal and then make, hopefully, the best decision. Oh, and not worry about it too much when everything turns to custard … or in this case mould, rot, and slug eaten stumps.
Don’t forget to prune your fruit trees and bushes and pick up all those sticks; if you leave them on the ground they will spread disease. Tie them into bundles and throw them in the back of your wood shed for some instant kindling next winter.

Warrington School


by Jeff Burrow, Principal
What an amazing evening! It was a real treat to see the children so passionate about sharing and performing their drumming and waiata to celebrate Matariki in front of such a large, attentive audience of parents and members of the wider Warrington community. Thank you to Ms Jones and Mrs Russell for their wonderful work with getting the children’s performances so polished!
Here are some Matariki stories from students…
Germaine
Year 7
On the night of Matariki I marched and beat the drum as hard and loud as I could, to the Paua Farm. As I was walking it got bleaker and bleaker. The stars caught my eye as they were glistening radiantly in the shady night sky. Two glossy dazzling lanterns had suddenly appeared out of the night sky and they were coming closer and closer. It was Mikey and his mum. We were waiting for quite a while and then we strolled toward the lanterns and lights. Stilt walkers were dancing like fairies, with their long legs high above the road. I was freezing – maybe it wasn’t a good idea wearing a dress! I’d finally got to the school path and lanterns covered the whole area. Boom, boom, pow – the drums were finally here. Time to parade around the court...
Myah
Year 6
Thump, thump went the many stiff hands whacking the strong base drums. I could hear all the excitement echoing through the heart of misty Warrington. One step at a time my gleaming lantern guides me to my other classmates who are banging their drums, getting into the rhythm or gracefully walking, swaying their paper lanterns side to side. I was in the middle of something big. Suddenly I felt alone. The clothes of many people were blending into the moonless night and just then the lanterns turned into twinkling stars floating in the Matariki atmosphere.
Anton
Year 2
It was Tuesday and it was Matariki time. The whole school and some of the Warrington people were celebrating Matariki. I was feeling jubilant. When I saw the stilt walkers, I was totally amazed. I also noticed an adult from mum’s school was there. We were walking with all the people and I had to carry a lantern. It was quite windy. I felt frightened. The very first person that I saw was Rosa. She is as cute as a puppy. They are very cute – just like me. When we got to school we played the drums and sang songs for the audience. After we performed for everyone, we had some food. I didn’t stay for the whole Matariki. I had to go home quickly. Quick as quick. My eyes were hurting, so I snuggled up to mum. I was very tired!
Year 7&8 Open Evening : Thursday 31st July @ 7pm
We are holding an Open Evening for our prospective Year 7 and 8 students to share with parents and children the learning programmes and opportunities that are available at Warrington School next year.
After School Care
Our After School Care programme is in full swing. It is available Monday – Friday
3pm – 6pm. We have trained experienced staff. We offer structured activities, games, cooking, arts and crafts, supervised homework as well as afternoon tea and snacks.
If you have any queries about Warrington School or would like more information please contact the office on 482-2605.

Warrington Playcentre


by Jackie Hughes
This month two of our families have welcomed new babies to their whanau and to our playcentre community. Toby has warmly welcomed little brother James, and Oscar has delighted in the arrival of his little brother, Max. The two new big brothers have enjoyed the opportunity to spend some time at the playcentre with their dads, Seth and Sam, and to compare notes about their new babies. Congratulations to both families.
We had a very successful clothes swap and social evening. It was great to catch up with old friends and to meet new ones. With the proceeds we have bought the children a new ride-on tractor with a trailer and, as for us, we are all enjoying our new clothes! There have been requests already to do this again so watch this space.
Some of the children have been busy: Belle and Zara have spent time gardening; Nikau, Rowan and Toby have been constructing railways; Finn has been enjoying music; Sol has enjoyed using the popcorn machine to make morning tea; Matthew has had an interest in books; and Kamahi and Lily have become more confident and inquisitive one year-olds around the centre.
Our craft project for this term will be the construction of a dinosaur world. Please feel free to come along and spend the morning with us and see what we have to offer. Warrington playcentre is open Wednesdays and Fridays 9.15 to 12.15. We start term three on 23 July.

Blueskin Garden Club


by Lyn Hastie
Our June meeting was held at the Blueskin Cafe. A large number of us enjoyed tea, coffee, and cake as we were entertained by Sally Brown. Sally presented a slide show as she spoke on her participation at this year's Ellerslie Flower Show. We were very interested to hear lots of the trials and tribulations of the show: 18 pallets of potting mix, over 2000 plants, 300 tulips (out of season), rain, and hail. Sally, her family, and other workers put in many, many hours of work to keep everything looking perfect for her "Pink Passion" exhibit. Well done, Sally; your efforts were amazing and we really enjoyed seeing your photos and hearing your story. July's theme was jewelry making at the Warrington Hall. With Glenys Clements, the tutor, everything was well-organised and saw lots of ladies very busy cutting, glueing, and  sorting out beads, buttons, and lots of other bits and pieces. Their efforts will be at the spring flower show for you all to see. Thank you, Glenys, for a wonderful day.
Our 7 August meeting will also be at the Warrington Hall. Three members who have recently returned from a tour of Turkey will show photos and give a talk. Supper will follow with the usual raffles and bloom/vegetable competition. On Friday 29 August lots of our members will be at the Blueskin Store helping to raise funds on Daffodil Day for the Cancer Society. Our club members have agreed to take over the organising of this event. We will work alongside other community members who have been supporting this stall for many years. A huge thank you to Liz and David Sumpter who have been at the helm of Daffodil Day in Waitati for 20 years. Please support the stall by purchasing daffodils, baking, raffles etc.
Our spring flower show will be held two weeks earlier than usual this year due to Waitati Hall being unavailable later in September. As you gardeners know every season is different and it will be interesting to see if two weeks makes a lot of difference to what we have in our gardens. There may well be a lot more daffodils and less rhododendrons, etc. – we'll just have to wait and see. As you will see in our schedule in the News we have a special section in the floral art section to celebrate Waitati School's 150th celebration. We have also added in some sections commemorating Anzac, from art to biscuits and floral art. We hope there's something for everyone to enjoy taking part in.
Lastly, if you won a trophy at last year's show, please return it to a club member by 12 August. If you would like to meet some local folk, then feel free to join us. More information can be had from our president, Daphne, at 482 2428 or our secretary, Lyn, at 482 2896.

Waitati Volunteer Fire Brigade


by Deanne Burrell
PUT A FREEZE ON WINTER FIRES
Once the cold weather sets in, the risk of a fire in the home increases. More people start to use more appliances and heaters, and fires are cranked up. A fire can take hold in just minutes, but taking simple fire prevention steps takes only seconds.
New Zealand Fire Service figures show common causes of fire in winter are faulty appliances, overloaded multi boards, drying clothing too close to a heater or fire, hot ashes and embers not being properly disposed of, and blocked chimneys.
Throughout the year, the most common cause of fire in the home is unattended cooking. The number of these kitchen fires increases slightly in winter as more people cook and eat at home.
Between 15 to 20 people die in avoidable house fires each year and there are around 3800 fires in New Zealand homes each year. Each one causes an average of $40,000 worth of damage.
There are a number of fast, easy things that you can do to reduce fire risks in the home to protect yourself and your family from fire this winter.
• Keep looking while you are cooking.
• Keep everything at least a metre from a heater.
• Put hot ash and embers in a metal container and wet thoroughly before disposal (it can take up to five days for ash and embers to completely die out).
• Have your chimney and electric blankets checked before winter.
• Do not put too many plugs into your multi boards.
• Remember that smoke alarms save lives.
IF WE CAN’T GET TO YOU, WE CAN’T HELP YOU.
Delays in an emergency can be devastating.
If a fire breaks out, rural property owners face an increased risk due to their remote location. When we arrive our response can be compromised by our fire appliance not being able to gain access onto driveways due to overhanging branches or narrow gates and fence lines. There are also issues with no clear pathways to water resources on properties.
Remember the 4x4 Rule
In an emergency it is critical that our fire appliances and crews are able to get to you as soon as possible.
Access to driveways and water supplies
MUST have a width and height
clearance of at least four metres
Is your RAPID Number displayed clearly?
It is important that all rapid numbers are displayed clearly to enable faster response to incidents at rural properties.
RAPID stands for Rural Address Property Identification. It is a nationwide system for giving every rural property with a house an address that is easy to locate. As part of the process of allocating RAPID numbers, a GPS reading is also taken. Most local authorities have completed rural numbering and can provide you with your RAPID number and, for a small fee, a RAPID number plate.
The rural RAPID numbering system identifies your property and if used will ensure that all emergency services reach you as fast as possible. Call takers and dispatchers are better able to determine your location if you use the RAPID system.
If you have a rural address, your RAPID number should be clearly displayed on your front gate where it can be seen easily from both directions day and night. Keep directions for getting to your property, including your phone number and RAPID number by the phone and make sure every member of the family, even young children, can explain it. Show visitors where the directions are. Your RAPID number is assigned by your local council.
Take a moment to consider the safety of your home. Implementing a few simple precautions could make all the difference to your and your family’s safety this winter.

Waitati Film Society


by Leonie Rousselot
WAITATI FILM SOCIETY at the “old store,” Harvey Street, Waitati
Half-year memberships are now available at $40 for the rest of the year. See drama, comedy, history, or just plain entertainment in a warm, pleasant environment with convivial company. Membership allows you free entry to Film Society screenings as well as discounts at the International Film Festival and some Dunedin cinemas.
For more information, ring Brigitte at 4822 829 or Leonie at 4822 508 or visit our website: www.nzfilmsociety.org.nz/waitati.htm
Tuesday 19 August
AN AMERICAN IN PARIS
USA 1951
Jerry (Gene Kelly), a WWII American veteran, tries to make headway as an artist in Paris.  Strangely, he doesn’t willingly succumb to the possible patronage of the lonely heiress Milo because he’s distracted by shop girl Lise (Leslie Caron). Not surprisingly, with a cast like that, the story includes lively music (Gershwin) and superb dancing.    113 min
Tuesday 26 August
STARBUCK
Canada 2011
The title was the name of a bull bred to produce many hundreds of thousands of progeny. He didn’t have the same problem as another Starbuck, alias 42 year old slacker David Wozniak, who, as a sperm donor, fathered 533 offspring, many of whom join a class action calling for him to be identified, something he doesn’t want, if only because his girlfriend is pregnant with his child and he is hopelessly in debt.     109 min

Orokonui Ecosanctuary


by Sue Hensley
In town the first few blossoms are making an appearance despite it feeling like anything but winter. At Orokonui the first flowers of the native fuchsia (kotukutuku) are blossoming on the leafless trunks and branches providing an important food source for the nectar feeders. You may see an occasional bellbird sporting a blue cap gained when feeding amongst the fuchsia pollen.
Matariki events went well and the shifting clouds at dawn enabled people on tour with Kane Holmes to see this star cluster. Some like me, saw it for the first time. Not really surprising as it’s quite faint as it competes with the lightening morning sky and otherwise is generally out at unsociable times! Walking down the Valley was a first for some and Kane treated the group to a wonderful narrative of wildlife and plant knowledge. The welcome at Te Whanau Arohanui in Waitati was warm and wonderful flax and flute items were made.
Enhancing biodiversity, collaboration and networking to improve landscape functioning are some of the aims of The Landscape Connections Trust (LCT). A forum for individuals, landowners, community groups, iwi and management agencies will be held on Saturday August 2nd, 1.30-5.30pm at Orokonui Ecosanctuary. This is specifically for our area. Read more in last month’s Blueskin News. Book in with Rhys Millar at landscapeconnectionstrust@gmail.com.
For events and information visit www.orokonui.org.nz or Facebook. The Visitor Centre is open daily.

Waikouaiti Coast Community Board


by Gerard Collings
Natural Hazards Community Consultation
As a result of concerns raised about the speed with which the council was expecting comments back on  preferred options for managing natural hazard risks in the second generation District Plan (2GP), it has extended the consultation period to now close on 1 September 2014. 
It was extremely pleasing to see the large community turnouts at the two presentation meetings held in our area. That said, we are concerned that many members of our communities have not taken the opportunity to review the information available.
The board agree that it is appropriate for the council to identify the various hazard zones within our community. We do, however, want to ensure that the community has considered these zones, tested the accuracy of the mapped areas with our local knowledge and, most importantly, is comfortable with the level of control that the council is considering placing on the affected properties. 
The board is considering the implications of the council's proposed policy for our area and will provide feedback accordingly. However it is imperative that community members take the time to consider the implications for their property and our area and to provide their own feedback throughout this process. 
While there are no more public meetings scheduled for our area, the hazard zones and the council’s proposed controls can be viewed on the council’s website at http://www.dunedin.govt.nz/whats-on/2gp
In addition to providing your comments to the council, the board is more than happy to hear from any member of our community with a view and/or concerns regarding the areas mapped and the proposed controls.
I urge you all to take the time to participate in this process.
Foot Path and Road Maintenance
Members of the community are encouraged to report maintenance issues to the council through their customer services department at 477 4000. Reporting maintenance items in this way allows the council to track contractor performance.
Copies of DCC documents out for consultation are available from the council and on their website at http://www.dunedin.govt.nz/council-online/currently-consulting-on
The board’s next meeting is at 5.30pm, 13 August at the East Otago Events Centre, Waikouaiti. The following meeting will at 5.30pm, 24 September at the Blueskin Bay Library.  Agendas are generally available through the DCC website three days before the meeting; see the link below.
Members of the public are welcome to speak at the board’s public forum; however, those wishing to do so need to advise Wendy Collard, our governance support officer (474 3374) before noon on the day prior to the meeting. 
Remember that you can view the board's meeting agendas, reports, and minutes at either the Waikouaiti or Blueskin libraries or on the DCC website at http://www.dunedin.govt.nz/your-council/council-minutes
Follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/WaikouaitiCoastCommunityBoard

Blueskin Energy Project


by Scott Willis
When the idea of wind generation for Blueskin Bay was first mooted in 2006, it was part of a range of ideas to build up local energy resilience. Eight years on from that workshop it is gratifying to see just how much as been achieved in that time, not only in terms of the work on small scale wind, but also in retrofitting insulation, providing energy advice, solar promotion, and Home Performance Assessments, even so there is certainly no room to be complacent.
At an immediate level, BRCT and Blueskin Energy Ltd are seeking your support to get our own solar generation up and onto the shared office roof – see our information in this issue. That’s only a very small part of the renewable generation we want to support in the community to build greater energy resilience, but symbolically it’s very important!
Wind projects like our own proposed Blueskin wind development are known collectively as ‘Citizen Wind Parks’ in Germany. ‘Wind parks’ function as economic engines for small communities. Residents get assistance from the get go - help with developing and financing the venture and a guaranteed price for the electricity generated. In New Zealand, by comparison, the electricity market is a bureaucratic nightmare for small generators; it takes resources and time to complete site assessment and secure legal approvals; and there’s a large up-front cost involved in putting up wind turbines … but slowly we’re getting on top of it.
We’re now talking with turbine manufacturers. This involves getting accurate pricing and perfecting the modelling for what will work in Blueskin, as it’s not just a question of putting any old turbine up on the hill, but on finding the best fit for the site with a good match for the kind of wind we have.
We’ve also been working our way through the possible market arrangements and have been having productive discussions as a result. It is very necessary that we are careful to take the necessary time to thoroughly appraise our preferred site and sort through the legal approvals. Over the past month we’ve been working on reducing the risk profile, developing, with legal help from Russell McVeagh, a constitution for our company Blueskin Energy Ltd to make it a fully charitable company and preparing the investment offer.
The work on building energy resilience continues in a myriad of ways. One of the simplest things that can have significant impact at the household level is a Home Performance Assessment ($260 + GST) from a qualified assessor. We provide this ‘invest to save’ service and do all we can to support greater energy resilience and security in our community.
To stay in touch with developments, subscribe to our BRCT update via our website: www.brct.org.nz or pop into the office at 1121 Mt Cargill Rd, Waitati. Telephone enquiries can be made on 4822048.