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Park news

Updated 26 October 2018 10:58am

Kaitawa Pointgate closure: an update - posted 26/10/2018

We’ve had a few complaints that we’ve not told people we’re closing the road to Kaitawa Point and locking the gate on 5 /11/2018, permanently restricting vehicle access to this area. We apologise if this came as a shock to some of you and we wanted to give some more background to this change. Not only will this closure protect this fragile coastal eco-system but it will allow native plants to establish themselves. Restricting vehicle access also means less vandalism, rubbish dumping and the lighting of fires. Closing the Kaitawa Point Road for vehicles was proposed in the Whitireia Park Management Plan 2016. Public submissions supported this course of action, and the Whitireia Park Board approved the decision to protect this area. Park users can still access the area for recreation and walking and it will now be much safer for park users. It’s also part of a the bigger project to redevelop the whole Pou area, which we are kicking off. We do understand this closure will be of some inconvenience for a few of you but it will enhance the park experience for many people. Ongoing updates on this project will be posted on these news pages.

Kaitawa Point gate closure - posted 8/10/2018

From 5 Nov 2018 this gate will be locked as we’re closing the road to Kaitawa Point, permanently restricting vehicle access to this area. Park users can still access the area for recreation and walking.

 This closure helps protect our fragile coastal eco-system and allows native plants to establish themselves. Restricting vehicle access also means less vandalism, rubbish dumping and the lighting of fires. Closing the Kaitawa Point Road for vehicles was proposed in the Whitireia Park Management Plan 2016. Public submissions supported this course of action, and the Whitireia Park Board approved the decision to protect this area.

We apologise if this causes our park users any inconvenience. For all enquiries please phone the Whitireia Park Ranger on 0800 496 734.

Creating a safe place for little blue penguins - posted 8/10/2018

Penguin breeding season is here. Dogs are a major threat to nesting little blue penguins in Whitireia Park. Adult penguins come ashore at winter to build nest with chicks fledging in Nov or Dec. Nesting boxes are along the coastline and are a safe place for them. We are asking dog owners to make sure their pooches are under control at all times as this will help the penguins. If you spot any dogs misbehaviouring please call PCC dog control. Stick to paths, follow signs and keep your dogs under control at all times.

Making hay while the sun shines

Thankfully with that calmer weather, we could complete our planned haymaking in Whitireia Park. The idea behind this was to remove some of the excess dead grass where it was possible, to further reduce the fire risk. Hay making is not usually a spectator sport but that time it drew quite crowd with kids enjoying the chance to play on the hay bales. Our farm licence holder at Battle Hill and Belmont did this work for us, taking payment in hay bales which works very well! He and Principal Ranger Wayne Boness will investigate to check how the hay baling might be extended in the future as once it’s done, the mown areas also improve public access.

The Whitireia Coast Key Native Ecosystem plan is available online

Whitireia Park includes some areas with high biodiversity values and these are managed under GWRC’s Key Native Ecosystem programme. This programme recognises the significance of a range of different sites around the region and aims to protect and restore them as functioning ecosystems and important remnants of our natural heritage. A Key Native Ecosystem plan sets out the management activities that will be carried out to address threats to the biodiversity values at a site. It states specific goals to maintain and improve a site’s ecological condition where possible.

The Key Native Ecosystem site at Whitireia Park is called Whitireia Coast and includes the western cliffs and coastal platform, the eastern and southern coastal escarpments, the dune lands, wetlands and estuary, the forest remnant, and Te Onepoto Stream riparian strip. The rarity and threatened nature of the many ecosystem types present are what make this site so special. With ecological weeds, pest animals and the adverse effects of human activities posing a significant and ongoing threat to the area, GWRC and its management partners are undertaking a long-term commitment to ensure that the Key Native Ecosystem site’s values are protected and restored.

The Key Native Ecosystem plan for Whitireia Coast is now available on our website. You can download it here. You can read more here to find out about the Key Native Ecosystem programme.  Other biodiversity management activities happening in the Wellington region are described here.

New homes for Penguins

Little Blue Penguins may soon begin breeding in Whitireia Park thanks to the ace carpentry skills of Aotea College students that have created safe havens for the world’s smallest penguin. Which may mean that in the future we’ll see more of them splashing around in the harbour – the penguins, that is!

Wellington Regional Council biodiversity adviser Janey Hilford says the Whiteria Park Restoration Group, with Wellington Regional Council support, has been working with the community for a decade to restore the park's native flora and fauna.

It’s a two-pronged approach. Part of the group's plan is to create safe nesting areas for the little blue penguins, and “the carpentry group of students from Aotea College has been improving the potential nesting habitat by building nesting boxes, while a dedicated bunch of locals has been trapping stoats that can kill penguins and eat their eggs and chicks.”

The boxes were placed in the scrub behind the beach, where the penguins are likely to nest. They provide them with shelter and open at the bottom to allow the penguins to burrow into the ground.

Janey says “the penguins are sometimes seen in the water around Porirua Harbour and Whitireia Park, which are right on the edge of the city and important areas for native biodiversity. They come ashore to breed, where they have no trouble finding the nesting boxes. It’s not clear how they find them, but our experience from a similar approach on the south Wellington coast shows they don’t have any trouble doing so."