You may have heard about the Cape to City project but aren’t quite sure what it is about?
The Cape to City is a ground-breaking ecological restoration project in Hawke’s Bay. Restoring native species populations, improving natural habitats and implementing effective pest control are the main objectives of this collaborative initiative.
The project was created to drive a long-term positive change in Hawke’s Bay’s biodiversity profile and conservation outcomes.
From individual landowners and schools to iwi and government agencies, the supporters of Cape to City are diverse.
The Cape to City FOOTPRINT
The Cape to City Footprint covers 26,000 hectares of mainly primary productive farmland. It extends from Havelock North to Cape Kidnappers and encompasses Waimarama and forest remnants at Kahuranaki. The ultimate goal is to create a safe habitat corridor for wildlife from the neighbouring Cape Sanctuary restoration project.
Te Mata Park is not immune to the biodiversity efforts and goals of this initiative. The Park sits within the ‘footprint’ of the conservation area, and forms part of the chain that links the Cape to City landscape.
Our Volunteer Group, Friends of Te Mata Park, are focussed on planting exclusively native vegetation, thus attracting increasing numbers of birdlife and other fauna. Tui, Kereru and Piwakawaka (Fantails) are becoming increasingly visible throughout the park. This is due, in part to the wider community strategy of forming a ‘bird corridor’.
Mike Lusk and his team of volunteers have also eco-sourced for the 3 fenced cliff area (note, eco-sourcing refers to the propagation of native plants from local areas and the planting of them back within the same region. This is because locally sourced plants are thought to be more likely to survive than those from further away).
Neighbours adjacent to the Park boundaries are also involved with ‘forming part of the chain’, with extensive native planting, thus creating further sustainable habitats for our native birdlife. You may have noticed the sheer quantity of new trees planted to the right of Chambers Pathway (as you head uphill) – the efforts of these landowners, and others, is quite outstanding.
Restoring Hawke’s Bay’s native plants and waterways is a critical step in the Cape to City project. Their goal is to improve land and water quality and establish habitat connections between nature reserves, farms and urban backyards so that native species can safely return.
The Cape to City project has achieved many successes already, with extensive planting along the Maraetotara River (with the goal of establishing suitable habitats for the return of blue ducks). Community plantings with Hohepa Homes and the Clifton County Cricket Club have helped restore native species to wetlands and streams in the area.
At Te Mata Park, we are also mindful of protecting and establishing habitats that allow local native wildlife to establish and flourish.
New Zealand’s native birds, reptiles and amphibians evolved in a landscape where there were no land mammals. When humans began to arrive, they brought with them a host of cunning predator species that our native wildlife simply wasn’t adapted to survive.
Even with good habitat, our native species continue to face significant threats from introduced species such as stoats, ferrets, possums, rats and feral cats. These predators can also pose a threat to livestock and cause severe economic loss for farmers.
Setting traps is only part of the equation: finding and tracking pests in the project footprint also plays a critical role. Cape to City relies heavily on motion-sensitive trail cameras to increase their understanding of predators in the landscape, determine population trends across large areas, and detect ‘hotspots’ where predator numbers are particularly high.
The Cape to City project is also at the forefront of pioneering exciting new wireless trapping technologies. These systems send satellite alerts when a trap has been triggered, instantly notifying the trap manager’s smartphone or computer.
A pest control programme has been in place in Te Mata Park for the last 10 years, trapping stoats, weasels, rats and cats. There has also been a poisoning programme in place for possums too. We work with Hawke’s Bay Regional Council for effective pest control measures. The Trust endorses safe and effective pest control, thus supporting the wider goal of preserving and encouraging native wildlife.
A critical part of the species reintroduction programme is to take sea birds, waterfowl and forest birds from other areas within Hawke’s Bay and around New Zealand and release them into the Cape to City footprint.
In 2015, Cape to City celebrated its first translocations with the release of toutouwai (North Island robins) and miromiro (tomtits) onto a reserve in the Cape to City footprint.
Volunteers from Cape to City regularly monitor the wildlife populations, as well as the biodiversity of the landscape in general, so they can better understand how species become established.
Native birds, invertebrates and lizards are all part of their monitoring process. Mike Lusk, facilitator of Friends of Te Mata Park, is involved with this process. Mike monitors gecko at Cape Kidnappers, as well as wetas and other small creatures that cohabit. Bird counts are also undertaken in Te Mata Park by Kiwi expert Kahori Nakagawa.
Te Mata Park is not isolated in Hawke’s Bay – the Giant may stand tall and proud – but we, as Trustees, do recognise that the Park is connected to the wider community. We also need to take ownership and responsibility, to reflect regional objectives and efforts for improving biodiversity.
We acknowledge and respect the incredible efforts of those behind Cape to City, and wish to support their goals through our own conservation efforts within Te Mata Park. We are just a link in the chain!