Getting a 4000 litre water tank onto the Charmaine Karol on the Friday afternoon was the first challenge of this trip. We managed it, just.

It left no room for our volunteers to climb aboard via the back steps so it was up the side of the boat and through the front entrance to the cabin. The problem of getting the tank ashore was solved by attaching a rope and floating it around the side of the boat to the beach to be hauled up into a hollow out of the breeze. The tank was then rolled to the Lockwood house where it was tied onto the Rhino trailer and taken by Nick and Will to the flax weevil project site near the top of Central Track.

The monitoring of the 80 mature flax plants selected for the flax weevil trial was carried out after dark Friday evening – 2 minute observations by groups of each plant and recording of any fauna. Midnight finish for over half of the group.

Saturday’s activities

Colin Miskelly and colleague Ruth Dunn had been on Mana all week attaching and retrieving GPSs to diving petrels. These two plus Will and Alan Wright began the set-up of the tank, the supply pipeline and later the irrigation line to 40 flaxes.

Peter Simpson and Allan Sheppard completed the retagging of the light-welled trees and the selection of 20 control plants. This has been a long-term project which Peter has done a huge amount of off-island work on.

The ngahere gecko monitoring team finally got their monitoring kit at around 9.40am and spent a very successful day – they found 6 ngahere, a record I’m sure. Gillian, Jess, Annemieke, Nancy (came all the way from Timaru for this trip) and Jozef made up the team who moved across to the flax weevil site to do the pitfall monitoring Sunday and assist with the irrigation set up.

Richard led Philippa, Helen and Georgia (both newbies) clearing the fairy prion burrow entrances and lids in preparation for the white-faced storm petrel (WFSP) transfer in February 2019.

Andrea and Mike worked back at the Lockwood preparing ‘blockades’ which will keep the WFSP chicks in their burrows until they reach correct weight to fledge.

Sarah Herbert and Brittany were working separately on Sarah’s PhD lizard project. 

Sunday’s projects

Projects moved on to on Sunday included five-minute bird counts – Peter, Nancy and Helen; flax planting survey – Philippa and Gillian; track clearance – Georgia, Mike and Dale; flax site pitfall monitoring – Annemieke and Jess; weeding – Richard. Colin, Ruth and Will continued with the irrigation set up and were joined by Andrea and later Alan and Allan. 

As usual the meals and the company were great. Colin reported back on the work he and Ruth had been doing over the week and Ruth was able to show us an amazing map with the travels of the diving petrels’ daily food gathering trips – compiled from the data the recovered GPS loggers had gathered.

The thunder storms over the Hutt Valley were visible and definitely audible. We were able to watch their progress southward on a hot and humid Mana Island.  Another great trip with a fantastic group of willing and able people. 

Dale Shirtliff, FOMI Executive


The whole working party. 


Maintenance work on seabird burrows. 

Andrea and Mike getting the blockades ready for the white-faced storm petrel burrows. 


The new water tank for the flax weevil trial, irrigation.