Hunua Auckland Green Gecko Relocation Project
As part of a wide-ranging environmental mitigation and enhancement programme at its new Symonds Hill pit at the Hunua Quarry south of Auckland, Winstone Aggregates has developed, implemented and monitored a programme for the rare and at risk Auckland Green gecko (Naultinus e. elegans).
Auckland Green geckos (AGG) are a taonga species to local iwi, in particular Ngati te Ata and Ngati Tamaoho, both of which were represented on the Papakura Kaitiaki Group, a group representing Iwi that have interests in the Hunua Quarry site. In addition to this, the local council, Department of Conservation, and residents of the surrounding area see the geckos as an important part of the local ecosystem that has existed for generations. All groups came together for the gecko relocation project.
In total 39 green geckos were relocated from the proposed quarry site to an area of native bush also on the quarry site.
Winstone Aggregates is also undertaking a wider range of restoration initiatives to compensate for habitat which will be lost through works associated with the development of the new Symonds Hill pit. These include planting indigenous forest (over 39.9ha of retired pasture in the Hay paddock and Friedman blocks), and the control of mammalian browsing and predatory pests over an area of 100ha of surrounding regenerating forest adjoining the proposed pit. This has focusing on rats, possums, stoats and feral cats. These species are widely implicated in the decline of lizard populations on the mainland including arboreal geckos such as Auckland Green Gecko.
Pest control has increased the abundance of invertebrates (some of which may be prey for lizards) and native birds; and increased the availability of fruits and seeds (which may also be eaten by lizards).
We made a trilogy of short videos tracking our environmental work at Hunua Quarry, which you can watch here:
Giant with a small footprint
Quarry Manager Jason Hinton is a giant of a man. At over 1.83 metres tall with a big beard and a booming voice he’s more than up to managing a quarry. But while Jason may have a big footprint, he’s on a mission to make his busy quarry’s environmental footprint smaller.
Rodney Aggregates Supplies is a Winstone Aggregates joint venture tucked down at the back of Matakana, and nestled in rolling hills. Jason’s been managing the site for seven months and as part of his job he’s been working closely with many groups including the local community, local iwi Ngati Manuhiri, and Auckland Council.
“There’s a significant amount of environmental work required in running a quarry. To help complete some of these projects, it seemed like a good idea to start working more closely with local iwi,” says Jason.
In the last year in conjunction with Ngati Manuhiri , we have planted screening areas with natives, maintained existing plantings, launched an assault on pest plants on our boundaries, and we’ve got more planned for the year ahead,” says Jason.
Jason’s also joined Auckland Council’s popular Wai Care programme which offers assistance to community groups, individuals and business so they can monitor the water quality of local streams with a view to understanding the catchment and improve water quality.
Jason initially invited Rachel Griffith’s from Wai Care on site to get him started, and now she’s a regular visitor.
“It’s great to work with an industrial company like Rodney Aggregates and support the environmental work being carried out on site,“ she says.
Wai Care will be able to help with the capture of important water quality data, and also support the connections between the neighbours on wider water quality issues.”
Jason is setting a wonderful example for other quarries to follow and we’ll support his endeavours wherever we can,” she says.
As Priscilla Prime from Ngati Manuhiri, Jason and Rachel go through the comprehensive set of water test that are carried out quarterly on site there’s a real sense of enthusiasm. The water quality from the test site is classified as ‘good’.
“This is what it’s all about,” says Jason “Quarries are part of the community, and though we may not be everyone’s first choice of neighbour, it’s possible for us to be a good neighbour,” he says.
Trees for Survival
Run by the Trees for Survival charity, this programme teaches school students the skill of growing and planting native trees, whilst also opening their eyes to fundamental environmental issues – including the improvement of water quality and flow, erosion control, native biodiversity and carbon usage.
We sponsor three schools’ participation in the programme; Cosgrove Primary, Papakura Normal and Waikowhai Intermediate School. Our sponsorship assists with the costs of developing and maintaining the school’s native plant nurseries, and also with the costs associated with plantings.
Trees for Survival was established in 1994 and planted their one millionth tree in 2010. Currently the programme is established in over 160 schools throughout New Zealand, involving some 5,000 students planting over 80,000 trees per year.
Children are introduced to the main principal of ‘kaitiakitanga’, becoming aware of the vital role they play in maintaining the natural environment for future generations.