Tuesday, 19 November 2019

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Predator control at Hahei Holiday Resort

During summer, there can be up to 1,500 holidaymakers staying at the Hahei Holiday Resort on any given day. Grant Kilby, general manager of the resort, says that there’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to make sure that everyone’s holiday is as idyllic, happy and healthy as possible.

Take refuse for example. One-thousand-five-hundred people picnicking and barbecuing could potentially be a magnet for neighbourhood rodents. “We have to be very careful about refuse control,” says Grant. “Rubbish is collected daily and taken off-site and rodents have been controlled here for many years.”

When Grant took over the management of the resort in 2015, he saw an opportunity to extend predator control beyond the holiday resort basics of making sure rodents don’t make themselves at home with the holidaymakers. “I talked about predator control with our staff from the very beginning,” says Grant. “It was a chance for us to form a relationship with our community, the Hahei Reserves Group and the Department of Conservation. Our neighbours are actively trapping goats, stoats and possums. We’re mainly focused on rodents but have got a lot more aggressive about predator control, working with both Rentokil and the Hahei Reserves Group.”

Hahei is a great habitat for both wildlife and pests. There’s also a lot of bush and DOC land around the wider Hahei area. Both DOC 200 and Goodnature self-resetting traps are used around the resort.

“Our traps are about 50 metres along the beachfront on the fringe of the resort,” says Grant. “In part we have a self-serving goal of keeping the resort rodent and pest free, but equally it’s about sustainability. It’s about managing the resort in the best way we can with regard to the environment.”

Grant believes their efforts are making a difference. “We don’t get many possums now”, he says. “But in the early days we did. There are still a few rogue water rats, though, and they get bolder every year.”

The good news is that the wildlife is getting bolder too. “We’ve noticed kaka coming down for the first time in years, they’re right through the resort,” says Grant. “And Kereru are down in the resort for the first time too, which is cool. It’s the upside of control when you start to see the wildlife come back.”

Grant has also had huge support from the DOC office in Whitianga. “DOC have been fabulous,” he says. “Local DOC rangers have even been recruited to help out in our holiday programmes for children. DOC came to the resort last year and made weta hotels for the kids. Groups of children painted and decorated them. About 200 to 250 children in total made weta hotels to take home.”

Grant is hoping the benefits of the holiday activities will reach beyond take-home weta hotels. “I’m keen on developing educational resources on coastal erosion and predator control,” he says. “When they’re taking part in a conservation activity, the kids start to understand and have a conversation with the DOC rangers about predator control. Hopefully they’ll do predator control at home. Or they’ll go back to school and talk to others about what they did in the holidays. “I would encourage other resorts to run educational programmes too.

Grant firmly believes that small changes can make a big difference. “You can see it in the birdlife coming back,” he says. “The dotterels down on the beach have had a successful breeding season with lots of dotterel chicks running about. You wouldn’t have that success with stoats and rats around.”

Pictured: Grant Kilby, the general manager of the Hahei Holiday Resort.

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