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2017-18 Annual Report

Makara Peak Supporters

 
 
 

Report from the Chair

It has been a big year! The roll out of the Master Track plan has really picked up. Initially we have focused on finishing off a core network of tracks to get everyone around the park. This year that meant:

  • Completing the grade 2 track network – tick

  • Opening up the Southwestern ridge to more riders – tick

  • Completing the grade 3 and grade 4 runs from the peak to the carpark – currently underway with the extensions to SWIGG and to Starfish.

 
 

The aim was to complete the tracks which would provide a solid base for the riders we are increasingly seeing in the park – a lot more people who are new to riding, lots of younger riders and a look more people in the park for the first time.

The conservation work program runs like a well-oiled machine with planting and pest control continuing to re-establish the native forest through-out the park. Some exciting projects have been started with a plan to re-establish the forest around Zac’s starting to be implemented – more on this below.

 
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Chair’s report (continued) 

The last of the new signage has now been installed and we now have a shiny new website up and running. A mind boggling amount of time and spread sheets goes into both of these projects. A big thanks to Simon O’Brien for taking this on. The supporters also ran a couple of successful events the Creek to Peak – the most laid back race on the Wellington Calendar, and the Connecting Makara fundraiser. Connecting Makara is a long term plan to connect out the South Coast and complete a “mountains to sea” ride. Bex Houston was the driving force behind the Creek to Peak and then joined with Fraser MacMaster and Simon Morton to run Connecting Makara.

So what’s next?

The Wellington City Council has provided funding for an upgrade of the main carpark and entrance. This will result in a much more useful space, particularly when events are being held in the park. It is a significant project both financially (somewhere north of $1m), and with the impact to the surrounding area. Some on the original planting’s around the carpark will be removed to create space, although the well-established Totara planted when the park was opened have been relocated. No mean feat.

Next of the tracks menu will depend a bit on the next committees priorities, but a grade 4 downhill or two would be a nice additional after all the grade 2 and 3’s of the last few years. There’s lots of fun terrain those hills just waiting to be transformed into some spectacular tracks, surrounded by pest free native forest.

Thanks to everyone

A massive thank you to Management Committee from 2017-18: Mark Kent, Ricky Pincott, Peter Leman, Bex Houston, Ollie Martin, Andrew Cooper, Simon Ferrari and Simon O’Brien plus everyone on the tracks and conservation sub-committees. Bex, Ollie and Simon F have all decided to stand down from the committee - their enthusiasm, passion and commitment to the park will be missed.

Thanks to all the volunteers who donated some time to making Makara Peak such a great place.

WIAL

We continue to have a great partnership with Wellington City Council, thanks in particular to Tim Harkness, Illona Keenan, Anita Benbrook and Dave Halliday .

Thanks to our “go to” contractors – TGL Construction, La Plodge and Peter Russell.

And last but not least, thanks to Wellington Airport for ongoing sponsorship of the Wild at Heart bridge.

Pedal on

Iain Feist
Chair - Makara Peak Supporters

 

 
 

Thank you volunteers!

 
 

The park continues to rely on volunteers to do a huge amount of work. Track building, maintenance, planting, trapping and pest control, signage, the back office stuff no-one sees, applying for grants. The list goes on and on. On behalf of the Supporters, a massive thank you to everyone who has contributed over the last 12 months.

If you’re keen to get involved, check our events page, follow us on Facebook or drop us a line.

 
 

Tracks report

It’s been a massive year on the tracks front with a couple of major new trails built by TGL and funded by WCC, plus volunteers carving out a new line for Ridgeline Extension.

A lot of work has been put into the kids and beginners loop from the Allington Road entrance (a work in progress), Rimu, Miro, Big Tom’s Wheelie and Magic Carpet all being tweaked and refined to be more approachable and enjoyable for beginners.

Bridges were replaced on Nikau Valley, a bypass of the 4WD track on Zac’s, plus there’s an ever increasing amount of maintenance required as the trail network gets longer and the park gets more popular. Check out some of the highlights from the year below.

With the new Starfish and SWIGG builds underway, the tracks team are looking forward to working with WCC to implement more of the 10 year master plan in 2019, with lots of ideas for more new trails, revising and improving existing trails, and potentially some work on the skills area.

Mark Kent
Tracks Lead, on behalf of the Tracks Sub Committee

 

Conservation 

The Supporters have been busy over the last 12 months with the usual weeding, planting and pest control – the pattern of the last 20 years.

Weeding and pest plant removal

On weeding, we have been using a new contractor, Kaitiaki, and Stu and Joerg and the team have done great work clearing masses of pest plants around the carpark, picnic area, Koru and St Albans entrance. They’ve also been targeting holly and cherry trees which need to be culled.

We were successful in getting a $5,000 grant from WCC which we used to do much-needed clean-up work in the entrance and carpark areas, cleaning out a lot of blackberry, wandering willy and other nasties. Next year, we’ll be having a blitz on African Club Moss which is proliferating.

Another successful planting season

We managed to plant 1,500 trees this year, primarily along new sections of track (Super Kanuka, Upper Leaping Lizard, Ridgeline Extension, Magic Carpet) but also backfilling some more established areas.

Once again, we have made great use of corporate volunteer groups (thanks to OMV NZ Ltd, DLA Piper, Ministry for the Environment) as well as the usual hard core of Club volunteers.

To ensure we get the best results from the trees planted, seven of us had a session with Pete Russell of Aotearoa Biodiversity on the fine art of releasing trees so they thrive in a newly-planted forest. He showed us how they have been doing this on Matiu/Somes to replicate the patterns of a mature forest which naturally open up light wells for saplings to grow into when old trees die or are blown over.

We’re going to try and put that into practice in the Park to offer more light to the trees planted over the last 20 years.

Podcarp audit

After 20 years of planting, 2018 was as good a time as any to take stock of how the slower growing species are doing. So this winter we've been measuring and recording the height and girth of podocarp saplings in the park (matai, miro, totara, rimu and kahikatea) as well as a few other potential giants like pukatea, white maire, northern rata, and tawa.

We found that most are struggling to compete with faster-growing neighbours, so, using strategies from Pete Russell, have set about cutting light-wells to allow the rarer species to thrive. A podocarp is considered to have 'made it' when it reaches 4 metre height. At this stage, 77 podocarps have reached the 4 metre mark. Our literally lofty medium-term goal is to have 1,000 podocarps over 1.5 metres tall (including 500 over 4 metres tall) at Makara Peak within 20 years. The biggest should then be getting close to mature enough to start producing fruit for birds to spread liberally across the Park.

Pest control

The pest control teams have had another good year with good eradication numbers recorded in the traps. Of the prime target species, the Katch 22 team, led by Andrew McLellan, eliminated 21 stoats, 27 weasels, 30 possums and a stunning 611 rats. Of non-target species, the team culled 292 mice, 48 hedgehogs and 5 rabbits. Many more possums were killed by the bait boxes and other traps.

The Council gave us $1,500 which we matched to buy 20 Goodnature A24 rat traps. Most of those have now been deployed in Sam’s Gully between Koru and Sally Alley and the counters are showing worthwhile kill numbers. We’ve also started trialling a new type of possum trap which you will have seen dotted around.

Lizard survey

Later this year, we are conducting a survey of lizard numbers and types within the Park, funded by a Conservation Fund grant from Council. In November, the three-yearly bird count will be taking place to monitor bird populations as they adopt the favourable conditions created by the ecological restoration work. The nesting box on Koru has been monitored with a camera and there has been promising interest shown by kaka and eastern Rosella but no sign of any chicks at the moment.

Zac Pearson grant from the Nikau Foundation

Many of you will know that we have been getting a generous grant from the Nikau Foundation in honour of Zac Pearson for work on Zac’s and the surrounding area. This year, we have engaged Pete Russell to put together a plan which will form the basis of conservation work around Zac’s track for the next few years. The first year will be about upgrading the boundary fence to keep goats out. We’ll then focus on planting in areas just off the track leaving the trackside planting until some upgrading work is done on the track itself. We’re confident this part of the Park will be unrecognisable in a few years.

Thanks to the everyone who’s contributed

The conservation effort has been energetically progressed by some long-time stalwarts of the Club – Simon Kennett, Evan McCarney and Andrew McLellan. Their passion and deep knowledge of the Park has been invaluable. Their efforts have been aided by wonderful and dedicated Council staff as well, in particular, Ranger Tim Harkness (who we are very sad to farewell to bigger and brighter roles), Illona Keenan and Anita Benbrook.

Finally, it is important to give grateful thanks to the many volunteers and corporate groups who have given up their time to plant, weed, fill bait boxes and empty traps. A Club like ours cannot function without the generosity of the many.

Peter Leman
Supporters Conservation Lead
On behalf of the Conservation Sub Committee and many volunteers

 

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Financial statements

Income

There was a decrease in subscription and donation revenue compared with 2016/17, but this was more than offset by additional event and sponsorship revenue. The Connecting Makara event raised almost $12,000, including sponsorship of the event from A Sparks Building of $2,500. Wellington International Airport Limited continued their generous sponsorship of the Wild At Heart suspension bridge, with $10,000 of untagged funding. Total revenue for the year was $42,304.

Expenses

Contractors were the biggest expense for the Supporters, with $13,608 spent on a wide variety of projects including numerous pieces of track work, tree planting and tree removal. A WCC grant help pay for Karori Stream weed control ($5,700) and a further $1,500 was spent on Good Nature traps. Total operating expenses for the year were $32,024.

Makara Peak Supporter’s net income for the 2017/18 year was $24,990. Much of this has been earmarked for projects to be undertaken in the coming financial year, including a new website and increased conservation and tracks spend.

As at 30 June 2018 the Supporters had total cash reserves of $84,079.

Ollie Martin
Supporters Treasurer