As well the regular work we do with local care groups, we are also undertaking pest control in the quieter season here at Ohiwa. This involves getting a “block” (of land) from DOC and trapping possums. It can be hard work navigating your way through sometimes steep thick bush (bush whacking) and carrying all the equipment required to do the job.
We pluck the Possum fur which is soft and warm. Possum skins can be used to make clothing and bedding. Possum fur is mixed with merino sheep wool to make knitting yarn. Possum meat has been found to have a high quality protein. Some New Zealand companies use it to make healthy pet food for cats and dogs. In the 1980s, possum meat was also exported to some Asian countries for people to eat where it was considered a special food delicacy. We’ve tried eating it but I think I need to research more recipes and suspect the younger possums may taste better.
Trapping is a great opportunity to get out there and observe the abundant local native flora and fauna, which unfortunately the possums are having a devastating impact on. Possums are omnivorous and feed readily on eggs and chicks. It’s estimated they can kill around 25 million birds and/or their eggs a year. They compete with birds for space, food (berries, etc.) and also kill them. They are also partial to insects and snails.
Possums can also spread Bovine (cattle) TB. Bovine tuberculosis infection transfers relatively easily from possums to cattle due to the proximity of farmland to bush areas in New Zealand. The damage done by possums costs NZ farmers about $35 million every year.
Possums were originally introduced to New Zealand by early settlers who though it would be a good idea to start a fur industry here. The first possum population to survive was in 1858. The more popular darker coloured possums originally came from Tasmania, Australia. There are now about 35 million possums in New Zealand. We're going to be busy...
Hukutaia Domain is a 15 minute drive from Ohiwa Seascape Studios.
It's contains an extensive collection of native plants in a natural bush setting. It includes an ancient Burial Tree (Taketakerau) which is a giant Puriri tree, estimated to be over 2000 years old used in ancient times by the Upokorehe iwi.
There are celebrations on the 24th of November to mark 100 years since the Domain was set aside as a Reserve.
The day starts at 4:30am with a Blessing and unveiling of a Waharoa (carved gateway) followed by breakfast at a local marae. At 9am, people and families connected with the domain past and present will speak about the significance of the domain.
From 11am, there will be guided walks and talks, covering Plants and trees of the domain, Plants and trees used by Maori (dying, weaving, medicinal), trees used in the timber industry and special bugs in the domain, Bookings for the guided walks are recommended and can be make at the Opotiki iSite .
There will also be food and drinks, activities for children among many other exciting things on the day.
All other times, there are a number of short easy walks, picnic tables and rest areas provided.
Directions to the domain can be found here.
Whakatane is just a 30 minute drive over the hill and there's so much to see and do there.
There are a few things in this Seven Sharp segment that I have done: I've eaten more than one of the 70,000 ice creams sold at Julians Berry Farm last year, I've eaten fish and chips at Gibbos on the Wharf, and listened to Kiwis on the Friday night Kiwi night walk.
Still so much more to do though.. Mataatua Marae, (also known as the House that came home), a trip to White Island and a walk or kayak to Otarawairere Bay. Great to see Kenny from KG Kayaks out there, and of course we have the Motu trails closer to home here in Opotiki.
You can watch the Seven Sharp article here.
The Opotiki Art has an exhibition this Labour weekend at an amazing property in Kutarere that overlooks Ohiwa harbour. It features weaving, pottery, drawing, painting, sculpture and more. There are refreshments on site as well.
The official opening was on Saturday, but there is still a chance to catch it tomorrow.
Well worth a look.
Venue is at 524 State Highway 2 and runs from 10am to 4pm. Entry is by Koha.
The Motu Challenge is a premier multi-sport event that is happening on the 13th of October.
Road cycle, mountain cycle, run, kayak events for both adults and kids set amongst stunning scenery in Heartland New Zealand.
See www.motuchallenge.co.nz/ for more information.
Just an hour from Ohiwa, Kawerau Woodfest 2018 is being held Saturday 29th to 30th where Kawerau celebrates it's iconic Forestry Industry. There will be pro logger chainsaw and pole climbing races, wood chip shovelling races for the kids, Wood carving symposiums, trick dog teams, Bike trials, vintage cars and the usual food vendors and Entertainment rides and games.
See www.kaweraunz.com/events/major-events/woodfestt for further details.
We are fortunate to have a number of birds in our backyard here in Ohiwa: Tuis, NZ Wood Pigeon (Kereru), Kingfisher (Kotare), Dotterels (Turituriwhatu), North Island Weka, Pukeko and Variable Oystercatchers (Torea) to name just a few.
The 17th Birds-a-Plenty Festival is an annual celebration of the Eastern Bay of Plenty’s migratory and native birdlife, that takes place over September and October.
There are a number of events during the festival, from photography competitions, Native Plant Sales to learning more about local conservation groups taking care of our Kiwi and other flora and fauna.
For more details see:
This week has been Maori Language week (Te Wiki o te Reo Maori).
It has now been 31 years since the Maori language Act was introduced, making te reo Maori an official language of New Zealand (alongside English and New Zealand sign language).
Just over 50% of the Opotiki population identify as Maori. Travelling further afield, there are many settlements with the central focus of the Marae to be seen.
We are lucky to have two stores that sell Maori artworks and other items of interest - He Tohu Aroha (a sign of love) and Tangata Whenua, both on the main street (Church Street).
Pop in with a kia ora or tena koe.
It would be great if we all made the effort to celebrate this official language of New Zealand all year round.
He reo e korerotia ana, he reo e ora ana - A spoken language is a living language.
We are lucky enough to have the occasional close encounters with wildlife here at Ohiwa. Birds and fish are common, with seals from time to time..
Yesterday, an uncommon fully grown Pygmy Sperm whale measuring around 2.5 meters was found washed up in Ohiwa Harbour. DOC have been unable to determine how it died but samples have been sent off for testing. After samples have been taken, it has been sent to Te Upokorehe hapu where oil, bone and teeth will be used for cultural purposes.
It would be great to see a live whale swimming in the harbour sometime. Who knows? Maybe one day...
Saturday 25th of August was a lovely Spring-like day. I joined a group of locals to help establish a local Food Forest, initiated by Meg Collins of Ohiwa Reserves Care Group. I was assigned the job of compost bin construction assistant. 18 trees were planted; Granny Smith apple, feijoa, Black Doris plum. lemon, orange, bananas, macadamia and peach. A good day was had by all. The area is now experiencing a lot of rain, so that should give the seedlings a good start.
Karen is a co-owner of Ohiwa Seascape Studios. When she is not busy at the studios, she is busy enjoying becoming a part of the local community here in the Eastern Bay of Plenty.