February newsletter 2019

Updated: Aug 27, 2019


Tēnā koutou,


You know the holidays are officially over when university classes start again! This year we’re excited to welcome a few more Auckland University of Technology (AUT) Bachelor of Science students into the F&NC whānau.

One of these students is Taylor Choi, who is conducting a year-long research project looking at which pest species are on farms with no pest control, compared to areas with pest control.

He’s learning how to use tracking tunnels to determine relative abundance of pest species.

The third-year student is also analysing data we got from camera “traps” set up last year on all three of our study farms.

Taylor Choi setting out tracking tunnels on his first visit to our Kaipara farm.

Taylor will join PhD candidates Febyana Suryaningrum (AUT) and Cate Ryan (Auckland University) on many trips up to our Kaipara site, where they can help him get acquainted with on-farm research.


Another student back in study this year is University of Canterbury Master of Forestry student Josh Foster.

Josh has just gotten back from recce plot sampling on our Ruapehu farm and is about to start his thesis research.

Josh Foster has finished field work for the time being to start writing his Masters thesis.

His study will measure the changes in size, density and arrangement of different types of native woody vegetation on selected sheep and beef farms. Watch this space for more updates!


Stacey has also almost finished the 2019 bird survey on all three of our study farms.


She found plenty of native bird species on our farms but the highlight was definitely seeing pōpokatea/whiteheads on our Ruapehu farm.


This North Island species is badly affected by bush fragmentation, so it’s great to see the forest on farms providing “islands” of habitat for them to use. We suspect the birds were visitors from Pureora Forest Park.



Spotlight on flammability

The recent Nelson forest fire shone a spotlight on what we can do to reduce the flammability of our environment’s vegetation – particularly around houses.

F&NC collaborator and Lincoln University senior lecturer Dr Tim Curran had research featured in the media when a Nelson resident credited a “fire-wise garden design” for saving his home from the wildfire. It’s great to see scientific research having a real-life positive impact.

Tim and his colleagues are also putting together a brochure about how to design a fire-wise garden, which will be available from Fire and Emergency New Zealand. You can find out more about the concept here.


International hui

Late last year Febyana attended an international Field Dialogue on Tree Plantations in the Landscape. Hosted by The Forests Dialogue, New Generation Plantations and SCION, the hui aimed to analyse the economic role of tree plantations and the resulting social and conservation impacts. Focus topics included Māori forestry, NZ’s 1 Billion Trees programme, climate change mitigation and sustainable forestry.


Febyana Suryaningrum was one of over 40 delegates at the Field Dialogue on Tree Plantations in the landscape.

Good news

A massive congratulations to Dr Valance Smith, who has recently been promoted to Kaiarataki - Assistant Pro Vice-Chancellor Māori at AUT. Valance is the inaugural Kaiarataki and says this role will allow him to do more of what he was already doing – enhancing the development and success of Māori staff and students throughout the university.


Valance has been at AUT since 2004 and has contributed to the success of Te Ara Poutama, been a senior spokesperson for the university and a cultural advisor to the office of the Vice-Chancellor.


We look forward to seeing all the great mahi Valance will undoubtedly accomplish in his new role.


Ngā mihi,


The Farming & Nature Conservation team:

Hannah Buckley, David Norton, Brad Case, Margaret Stanley, Jennifer Pannell, Valance Smith, Estelle Dominati, Margaret Brown, Fleur Maseyk, Stacey Bryan and Chloé Mathieu







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