Back in 2010 a group of volunteers contacted the Department of Conservation in Masterton as to the possibility of setting up a trapping project in the Donnelly Flat area at Holdsworth road end, with the hope of reducing pests, increasing bird numbers and giving dog walkers an area free of 1080 when it was being used in the area.
DOC was keen to get the local public involved with Project Kaka, a scientific project to monitor the effects of 1080 operations over a number of years on various pests in 29,000ha of the Tararua Forest Park. Thus Project Kaka at Donnelly Flat began.
Over the Winter of 2010 volunteers and DOC staff set out 5 lines of traps, using DOC 200 traps, for stoats, Timms traps, for possums, and bait stations for rats and mice.
The bait stations were replaced about a year later by Victor traps, so as to enable a count of pest caught to be kept.
One of our shortfalls over the years has been obtaining regular bird counts of the area, this important data is still rather erratic in collection. Anecdotally bird number vary widely with seasons and weather.
During 2017 we began to ask ourselves where we were headed, and was our aim of more birdlife in the area happening. We made enquiries through DOC as to what might be required to enable us to release some locally extinct species, thoughts turning to the friendly North Island robin (toutouwai). The answer came back, “you will need to be controlling pest numbers to low levels over at least 1,000 hectares”. Phew. What do we do now!
And so the Atiwhakatu Trapping Project began.