A true eco warrior restoring populations of our favourite flightless bird.
Words Sophia Ramsay
Most people would be pretty content with living in the picturesque coastal spot of Tutukaka, in Northland, and be without a care in the world. But for Nick Davies, there’s a lot of work to be done.
For more than 20 years, Nick Davies has been seriously committed to actively preserving and restoring New Zealand’s natural environment and brown kiwi population, while educating his friends and community about nature conservation and living sustainably.
Davies’ passion for nature is reflected in the volunteer work he does, both on land and at sea. He is a marine and fishery biologist, specialising in mathematic models of tuna populations and sustainability for commercial fisheries. Davies works as a fulltime consultant to the Secretariat of the Pacific Communities which works in synergy with New Zealand, Australia, Japan and the United States for the sustainability of fish resources throughout the Pacific. While many would say Davies is doing his bit with his nine-to-five gig, as well as this, Davies is also the co-founder of the Tutukaka Land Care Coalition (TLC).
TLC’s goal is to ‘bring back the birds to the Tutukaka Coast’ by eradicating the invasive pests and predator species which attack the flora and birds in the area. This can be done by trapping stoats, rats and possums to create safe habitats for kiwi and other birds.
Davies co-founded the organisation in 2002 to restore Northland’s native bush and prevent the extinction of the brown kiwi. Davies also willingly teaches as many other people who want to help how to use pest trapping in order to stop possums, stoats, ferrets, and rats from eating the kiwi eggs and chicks, and feeding on the fruiting trees which are the main source of food for many native birds. Some of the volunteers he has trained have gone on to gain employment as regular trappers.
As a result of Davies and the TLC’s actions, kiwi population has increased significantly in the area over the last 15 years. This has been measured by monitoring the number of kiwi calls at night during mating season. Davies has found that the mean number of calls grew from six calls per hour in 2005, to 9.9 calls per hour in 2016.
Says Davies, “20 years ago, the bush was crawling with possums crackling everywhere at night, now all you hear are kiwi calls, both during and off mating season.”
Quantitative assessment of biodiversity and the health of forest and native birds is in the immediate plans for TLC, who protect 8000 hectares of land in the area, owned by several parties including DOC and Davies, who owns 100 hectares.
TLC has developed educational programmes such as kiwi-aversion training for local and visiting dog owners, as well as local school programmes regarding the reintroduction of kiwi into the area. Davies has also used his land as a nursery for young big trees like puriri and karaka to offer even more fruits to native birds in the future.
All of the work Davies does, as well as maintaining a sustainable lifestyle using solar panels to power his home and work space, makes him an inspiration to many in his community and beyond.
To vote for Nick Davies, winner of the Environment category, to be the People’s Choice winner, click here.
To find out more about Nick Davies and his work for the Tutukaka Land Care Coalition, head to tutukakalandcare.org.nz