Father and daughter protect Pā from pests

A willingness to help his Pā has seen a Ngā Māhanga hapū member take on the fun role of being the Pā pest protector.

For the last four months Ray MacDonald (Rangitane, Taranaki Iwi and Te Atiawa) and his daughter Waimirirangi have been regularly monitoring eight rat traps along Matanehunehu Stream next to Puniho Pā in Warea on Highway 45.

“We love spending time at the Pā and thought why not help the Towards Predator-Free Taranaki cause while we’re out there,” Ray says.

“We went to our Trustees Hui to see if we could put out some traps and the whanau were all for it.”

So far they’ve caught eight mice, three weasels and three rats.

“Waimirirangi gets excited when we catch something.

“She lets everyone know that she’s protecting her maunga and Pā from pests.”

The pair have help from children living on the Pā, who also love checking the traps.

“We’ll get a text from their pāpā saying, ‘a rat in trap toru.’ It’s hard case,” says Ray.

“All our catches are on trap.nz so whanau can see how we’re going.”

Puniho Pā secretary Fay Mulligan is pleased to see the benefits of this work on a number of levels.

“The mahi being done is something that is for the benefit of our environment and our native species,” she says.

“The more we protect our biodiversity the better it will be for bird species, the kai, the habitat and recreational purposes.”

This predator control work compliments a broader biodiversity strategy which includes a large amount of riparian plantings already completed along Matanehunehu Stream and key locations around the Pā.

“The Puniho Pa Trustees, whanau and friends have and will continue to increase riparian planting. We already have around 600 plants along Matanehunehu and other locations like Komene Reservation where we have over 40,000 plants.

“All this work is enhancing the region’s biodiversity.”

Towards Predator-Free Taranaki project manager Toby Shanley is grateful to Puniho Pā and all marae across the region who are supporting the region-wide initiative, helping native wildlife and plants by removing rats, possums and stoats.

“Collectively every catch made is another step closer to having more native birds and restoring the health of our native flora and fauna,” Shanley says.

“It’s great to hear families are getting right behind this work.”

Ray agrees. “Checking traps is fun. I’m with my girl and we both know we’re helping to protect an area that is special to us.”

CAPTION: Ray MacDonald and his daughter Waimirirangi catch predators near Puniho Pā in Warea.