Concern for cats in Ohope

WE are hoping that you might through your newspaper be able to provide some clarification. We are in the process of purchasing a property in Ohope on Pohutukawa Avenue, which abuts right up against the forest and bush behind.

We are planning on moving down from Auckland and bringing our dog and two cats. They are wonderful animals, the cats in particular keep the rodents at bay, but we were told, when talking to the neighbours, that the Department of Conservation, has traps set up in the bush to protect the kiwis from stoats and rats.

They also told us that if cats get caught in one of those traps which they do, they are all considered wildcats and shot by one of the volunteers and disposed of in the bush.

Not only were we concerned about our two lovely cats, who like to roam at night, but wondered how that kind of response sits with DoC’s conservation ideals.

Why not take the cats to the nearest RSPCA so they could possibly be returned to their owners, ours certainly would be because they are both microchipped. That would sound like the more reasonable solution rather than just shooting the cats in the head and throwing them in the bush. We certainly don’t want to bring our cats down here if that’s a possible outcome, we have left countless messages but no reply from DoC.

Ian and Cheryl Barraclough

  • nDoC operations manager, Whakatane, Jade King-Hazel responds:

THANKS, firstly, to the Beacon for giving the Department of Conservation a chance to respond, and also Ian and Cheryl for raising this.

DoC is responsible for jointly managing Ohope Scenic Reserve with Ngati Awa, near Pohutukawa Ave in Ohope.

The reserve is a crucial location for forest bird species, including kiwi – the focus for the Whakatane Kiwi Project, which works alongside Ngati Awa, several public agencies and the community organisation, the Whakatane Kiwi Trust to protect these precious taonga.

The project has traps in the reserve, set well back from property boundaries, to capture feral cats which pose a significant threat to kiwi and other important bird species found in the reserve.

Domestic cats are not the target of these devices and in the past 12 months, all seven cats captured in these traps have been feral.

In the unlikely event a domestic pet cat did find its way into one of the live capture traps, it would not be killed. The traps are designed to lock down the animal without harming it.

The Whakatane Kiwi Trust volunteers who check the traps (daily) can identify a domestic cat through its behaviour and condition, and it would be passed on to the local branch of the SPCA to check for a microchip with a firm view to returning it to its owner.

The traps are not in use during the current Covid-19 level four lockdown.
DoC staff are very willing to meet with residents to discuss our predator control methods and answer any of their questions – just contact our Whakatane office.

Transformation time

LAST Monday I sent an email along with photos of a caterpillar and an empty chrysalis to a friend. It prompted me to think about our lockdown in a new light.

The crawling caterpillar forms a chrysalis around its body, isolating itself for a few weeks to several months.

Over that time it is slowly transformed into a beautiful butterfly. The pupa splits open, then after further waiting for the wings to dry and strengthen, the new creation flies off into freedom.

I wrote in my diary the next day, “Let’s be open to being transformed in our lockdown time, so we can emerge as the individual, family, community, and nation we were destined to be.”

My thoughts turned to those trapped in violent family environments.

During World War II, a Polish inmate thrived for over six years in a concentration camp, near Wuppertal.

It was one of the harshest lockdown places of fear and hate imaginable.

He radiated compassion to his fellow prisoners, counselled forgiveness, and was looked on as a friend by all. Though he worked up to 16 hours a day helping people, his energy was unflagging. Yet he lived on a starvation diet in disease-ridden barracks like all the others.

What was the secret of his strength, that transformed him and others throughout their lockdown?

He explained that after seeing his family shot before his eyes, he had to choose whether he would let himself hate the soldiers.

As a lawyer he’d seen what hate could do to people’s minds and bodies.

“Hate had just killed the six people who mattered most to me in the world. I decided then that I would spend the rest of my life – whether it was a few days or many years – loving every person I came in contact with.”

No matter what our bubble is like, may we follow in his courageous and wise footsteps.
Ruth Corbett

Cleaner and greener

CONGRATULATIONS to all the people who have been walking around our district’s roads and picking up rubbish. It’s a pleasure to notice the decrease in cans and bottles and fast food wrappers as I cycle around.

The country areas are looking great too.

Well done everyone.


Council projects not ambitious enough for a sustainable future

WEDNESDAY’S Beacon again shows the incredible value of local press. Therefore, it is a shame that the printed press currently is being decimated by the crisis at the favour of the electronic media.

Wednesday’s edition covers all aspects going through our current crisis. People losing their jobs. Councils preparing “shovel ready” jobs for the period after the lockdown restrictions are lifted and to kick start the economy and some individuals, Victor Luca and Graeme Weston, thinking how we can kickstart that same economy in a more sustainable manner.

Their proposal for a 10 MW community solar project is really ambitious.

In reality, far more ambitious than with what Whakatane District Council came up.

Yes, I recognise that council staff need a safe workplace and a nicely controlled work environment but nothing about how to make the Civic Centre sustainable energy wise.

I think that about 2000 of the 30,000 solar panels required for the community solar project should be fitted on that roof. A different way to look at creating a sustainable building is to separate the water systems by collecting rainwater and use that for flushing toilets and other non-hygiene usages.

You could save some drinking water with it. Maybe enough so the council does not have to put those drinking water restrictions signs up again in the future.

Another thing where I believe the council staff is not thinking bold enough is: Where has the second river bridge gone?

In the same line of thinking sustainable projects, I would make it for pedestrians and cyclists only to encourage alternative ways to get around town especially when you live at the other side of the river.

It is also future proof because most of the building projects and proposed subdivisions are located there. The earlier you encourage people to leave their car and take a walk or a bike ride will contribute more to a sustainable future for our town.

So, a bit disappointing council staff did not come up with those plans by themselves but lucky enough there are enough voices within our community trying to achieve a more sustainable outcome.

Maybe Alexander (Sandy) Milne’s call for council staff to take a pay cut is justified because

I am clearly missing the sustainable thinking capability within the council.

Peter Minten