University of Otago students at Chatham Islands

Predator Free Chathams is a community-driven project to help restore our islands' natural gifts and gives islanders a chance to be involved in developing and delivering a project for their island and future generations.

Hamish Chisholm gives us an update on what the group has been up to.

Compliments of the season to you all, I hope everyone has an enjoyable break and managed to take some time out to appreciate the little things after what has been a couple of years of interruptions! 2023 has started with a hiss and a roar and doesn't look like slowing down anytime soon...hopefully that's a good thing!

You may have all seen small groups of students getting around the place back in January. these were a group of third-year ecology students from the University of Otago, here as part of their course ECOL314 Pacific Field Ecology taught by Travis Ingram. The course has been trying to make it to the Island for the past three years and had undertaken plenty of planning but was thwarted by COVID-19 on the first two attempts. Third time lucky, so they say!

The students split into teams of two to undertake a small five-six day research topic in the field. Topics ranged from what effect paua was having on the seaweed and algae communities in the intertidal area to the abundance and diversity of invertebrates on the forest floor in different patches of bush and everything in between. They held a community evening that was well attended to provide their preliminary findings and I look forward to their reports coming back for us to view in due course.

Overall, the trip went really well, the students were all passionate and fell in love with the Island, many wishing they didn't have to leave. Hokotehi were kind enough to host them at Kōpinga Marae, making the logistics of their trip a lot easier. It is hoped that the trip will become an annual event, and if so the lecturers were keen to put feelers out to the community to see if there were any questions that we might want to be answered so that the students could positively give back to our beautiful home.

Funding streams are coming online left, right, and centre so I have also been busily writing applications to try and drum up the funding needed to get Predator Free Chathams up and running in an operational sense as well as applications to support local re-planting efforts and projects. Fingers crossed while the results of these are determined!

It would also be great to start collating a more detailed list of anyone with private re-planting projects on the go, or anyone who has ambitions to start one so that we have a better feel for the number of trees that need to be grown and for anyone who might want support with either planting or putting together a funding application. These are still your projects. But the Chatham Restoration Trust would love to support your vision in any way we can.

I think it would be pretty cool to put together a bit of a list of any keen planters that might be interested in volunteering their skills from time to time on the various projects going on. No commitments, just a list of names or some type of group chat where people can be updated when planting is happening and if they chose to turn up for a couple of hours on a nice afternoon to plant some trees and share a cuppa and a laugh with friends they would be more than welcome.

Flick me an email or Facebook message if you would be interested in being on this list, or if you have a current re-planting project you would like support with getting set up.

You all would have noticed the exceptional season of growth we have just been through. One native tree species or the other has been laden with fruit almost year-round and as a result, it has been a great breeding year for many of our unique birds. Unfortunately, this always coincides with an exceptional breeding year for rodents as well. While the fruit is around, their impact on our species is kept to a minimum.

However, once this fruit runs out, there are then hordes of starting vermin ready to eat almost anything, including our taonga and even themselves. There's no doubt that they will start making a mess in your shed, or chook house, or find their way into your ceiling as we move into autumn and winter. So with that in mind, we still have rat traps available for anyone who wants them. Please flick me through an email or Facebook message to let me know if you do.

Until next time,


Chatham Island albatrosses

Chatham Island albatrosses