Mārahau halo protecting Abel Tasman’s southern gateway

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Mārahau locals are getting behind a new trapping project creating a pest free halo around the southern entrance to the Abel Tasman National Park.

Mārahau Halo began trapping introduced pests during the Level-4 lockdown in March.  Beginning with a small number of traps in the Mārahau estuary and Newhaven Street they are now expanding with the support of residents, local businesses and conservation groups.

Chris Palzer and Jared Bosecke from the Abel Tasman Ocean View Chalet are co-ordinating the new trapping group and say they have already trapped nearly 300 introduced pests.

“It seemed like the Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust had plenty of volunteers keen to trap in the park, so we thought why not start trapping outside, to provide a pest free halo around the southern entrance to the park. In Marahau a lot of people do individual trapping and this is a way of pulling it all together,” says Chris.

Chris and Jared with one of the traps

The pair used lockdown to kickstart the project, building trap boxes for 2nd-hand traps donated by the Tasman Environment Trust and Friends of Flora. Since then donations from residents and local businesses have allowed Mārahau Halo to purchase materials and Project Janszoon has donated $4,000 towards new traps which are due to arrive in September.

Jared says a trapping line is now also in operation along Mārahau Valley Road, with another planned for Harvey Road which will run parallel to a trapping line in the park maintained by the Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust.  “To us it seemed crazy no-one had done it before. Everyone we have asked to be involved has been enthusiastic and said not a problem, and local knowledge has been really useful,” he says.

Project Janszoon Director Bruce Vander Lee says it is fantastic to see Mārahau locals getting behind the halo project. “Pests don’t respect boundaries and the trapping being done by Mārahau Halo and other groups like Takaka Hill Biodiversity Group, Project Rameka and the Otuwhero Trust complements the Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust, Department of Conservation and Project Janszoon trapping networks. By working together we can protect the park and locals will see the benefit with native birds like kākā and pāteke spilling out of the Abel Tasman,” he says.

Chris Palzer says Mārahau Halo is entering its trapping data into TrapNZ and they have already trapped a stoat and a weasel which is very satisfying. “The data will help us to see patterns, there might be a rat “super highway” we don’t know about.”

Mārahau Halo is keen to hear from anyone who might be keen to help with trap checks, and also from people with building experience who could help build trap boxes.

The group would like to thank Abel Tasman Guides, Abel Tasman Lodge, Alborn Enterprise, Captain Cone, Friends of Flora, Honey & Co, Mitre 10 Motueka, Ocean View Chalets, Park Cafē, Pics Peanut Butter, Place Makers Motueka, Project Janszoon, Rebecca K Real Estate, R&R Kayaks, Serenity Lodge, Split Apple Lodge, Tasman Environmental Trust, Wakatu, Marahau Ratepayers Association and private donors for their support.

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