On day two of TRW 2010 Takerei Norton of Te Runanga o Ngāi Tahu (TRONT) was good enough to present not one, but two sessions. The first about his current work on Cultural Mapping, the second on his earlier work with Kaupapa Kererū.
For anyone who doesn’t realise it, the Kererū is the native wood pigeon of which there were once plentiful numbers on Horomaka/Banks Peninsula, (the name of “Pigeon Bay” being a testament to this fact).
This ongoing conservation project to increase the numbers of kererū on the peninsula and has been going for about ten years. It’s a multi-agency project, though TRONT is the driving force behind it and the runanga is quite open in stating that their ultimate goal is for there to one day be enough kererū on the peninsula that they can be harvested. This is not necessarily an agenda that sits well with conservationists. TRONT however, is in for the long haul and acknowledges that this may be several generations away from happening. My personal feeling is that the fact that they have this long-term goal means that they are probably more committed to the project than other corporate eco-d0-gooders are likely to be.
I spoke with Takerei about the collaborative nature of the project and the issues of having “kererū as kai” as a conservation goal.
The project is mainly concerned with documenting, researching and recording the habits of kererū – where they go, what they eat, how many of them there are – and then using that information to guide conservation efforts. One of the things that’s interesting about the project is the way that several different agencies have managed to work collaboratively together in concert with scientists and the local community. One way that community involvement is encouraged is with a kererū calendar.
Each year artwork by local children is used to produce the calendar, copies of which are then bought by Banks Peninsula residents. But this is no ordinary calendar. At the bottom of each month page is a tear off slip for noting down kererū sightings. Locals are encouraged to record the number of birds seen, what species of tree they are perched in, what they are eating etc. These are then sent into TRONT and supplements the scientific data that’s been gathered.
This struck me as an incredibly clever mechanism for getting community involvement and engagement with a project and one which works on several levels. Some participants are apparently so enthusiastic that they don’t confine their observations to the calendar slip, including extra sheets of paper with the details of their sightings. In terms of crowd-sourcing this has been extremely successful. I can’t help but wonder if libraries could learn a little something from this example about how to get communities involved in ongoing projects?
A book on the project E kūkū te kererū was published in 2007. This book documents the scientific research that has been undertaken but also includes oral histories to do with kererū, with the stories, attitudes and memories of local people (yet another opportunity for community involvement) that give an overall picture of the importance of this native bird to Banks Peninsula dwellers.
Even as a visitor I see the value in replenishing stocks of this native bird and was lucky enough to see (and hear) a kererū take up a perch in a tree just up the hillside behind the marae later that day. Too bad I didn’t have a copy of my calendar with me…
For more information on Kererū conservation check out –
- Ordering info for E kūkū te kererū and Te maramataka Kaupapa Kererū 2010
- Cat versus kererū article from Lincoln University magazine Outlook
- Department of Conservation website
- Kereru Awhina Project (Auckland)
- Kereru Discovery Project (Wellington)