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Achieving the goal of a Predator Free New Zealand by 2050 starts in our own backyards. DOC needs to take a leadership role on its own reserve lands which is why it was important to announce that DOC is now committed to Maungauika /North Head becoming predator free.  An event hosted by Auckland’s new DOC Predator Free Ranger, Kat Lane, was attended by an enthusiastic group of about seventy local residents who joined us to help install the first of a ring of traps around the maunga and it’s encouraging to see nearly half then offered to volunteer to check the trap network.

Last month I announced the appointment of 9 new DOC Predator Free rangers whose job it is to help community groups achieve their pest free goals.  Their role is to help develop strategies, set up trap libraries and other practical initiatives and facilitate groups to access money and traps from an initial fund of $300,000. Contact ranger Kat Lane to apply or ask for more information or if you want to volunteer to help DOC rid our North Head of unwanted vermin - kalane@doc.govt.nz.  

As Minister of Conservation I gave an overview and update on the Government’s overarching goal for Predator Free 2050 and announced the new North Head goal. We also heard from Sid Cuthbertson, the spokesperson for the Devonport Environment Network’s newly re-named ‘He Manu Hopukia’ about the excellent work being done by her group which is focused on encouraging local residents to be active participants in ridding the peninsula of pests.

There’s no doubt in my mind that embracing the plan and all of us joining forces is necessary if we want to achieve our goal in Devonport. The trap I installed claimed its first plump victim – one of eight killed in the first few days of the traps being laid.  Rats have been identified as by far the biggest problem and therefore the priority mammals to clear from North Head – both the large Norwegian and the Ships rat. The ring of traps around the base are spaced 25 metres apart to form a predator-proof barrier to stop re-invasion and there are additional traps set along roads and paths around the maunga.   

If, like us you already have traps in your backyard and you’d like a reminder to check them, sign up to ratproject.org/Devonport.  It’s a great little app developed by local resident Michael Fielding and it took two minutes for Grant and I to sign on to receive our weekly update. I like the way it works on many levels because not only are you reminded to keep up to date with clearing your own traps, you’re also providing up to date information and supporting genuinely local research and data collection.

It’s good to see the naval base is getting a spruce up – and quite a significant one at that.  The Navy is spending $108 upgrading its Devonport home as part of the military’s Defence Estate Regeneration Plan, constructing a new headquarters building, new dockyard workshops and a multi-storey carpark and office complex alongside the older character buildings. 

Those of us who live in Devonport have a strong appreciation of heritage and welcomed my recent announcement of $1.5m government support for the restoration of our city’s much loved St James Theatre. This initial contribution of funds came from the Ministry for Arts, Culture and Heritage’s fund for seismic strengthening work on privately owned buildings – Heritage EQUIP. Our local historian and producer Margot McRae’s film “The Show Goes On”, captured the initial year of restoration of the St James in 2014/15, and was part of last year’s Auckland heritage festival at the Vic. As the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage I think it’s important to restore and preserve buildings that give our communities their unique character so it’s good to know we’ve helped ensure that the show will go on at the beloved St James theatre.

Protecting Devonport’s own rich history will be the focus of a new local group ‘Devonport Heritage 2017’ which has just been formed to meet the challenge of advocating for heritage restoration in our area.  No surprise to see the indefatigable Margo McRae involved and her many years of dedication to help preserve Devonport’s special character was recognised when she received a QSM in the last New Year’s Honours list for services to heritage preservation. 

If there are any other you believe deserve the recognition of a national honour and you’d like to nominate someone and would like my support as your local MP, I’d be happy to talk you through the process.

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