Monday, April 22, 2024

Success of Lot 29

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From left to right, Sally Barclay of Friends of Mangemangeroa, Duncan Lonley of Trap Library East Auckland, Lorelle Stranaghan and Ethan McCormick of Pest Free Howick, and Mirko Poetzscher, president of Ellerslie Sunrise Rotary. Front centre: Karyn, with her Paul Harris Fellowship award and husband Lewis Gradon. Photo Wayne Martin.

An east Auckland woman has received a prestigious award for her efforts and dedication in conservation.

Karyn Gradon arrived in Shelly Park in September 2017 as one of 18 neighbours who co-owned 14 acres (5ha) of private land (Lot 29) that backs onto the Mangemangeroa Reserve.

In January 2018, she proceeded to do invasive weed work with other neighbours. “It was a constant struggle against the weeds,” Gradon says. “Now, when I visit other parks and forests, all I can see are the weeds.”

Nine months later Gradon was visited by a host of people – Allan Riley, chair of Friends of Mangemangeroa (FoM) and Murray Gleeson, former chair of Forest and Bird; Niklas Erickson, conservation advisor from Auckland Council and Lorelle Stranaghan of Pest Free Howick.

With their aid, Gradon started pest detecting and trapping. “The rat traps were provided by Pest Free Howick, and ACC Biosecurity,” Gradon told the Times in 2020.

Her efforts continued to attract attention and support. “It grew and grew,” Gradon says.

Sylvie Wilkinson and Duncan Lonley of Trap Library East Auckland provided Lot 29 with possum traps.

Gradon received her first Howick Local Board Grant to purchase native plants in 2020. In July of the same year, 1200 natives were planted, supplied by the Te Whangai Trust.

A planting undertaken in 2019 was funded by the neighbours.

Due to Covid-19, the planting for August 2021, using the second Howick Local Board grant, has been delayed until May 2022.

“Once you remove invasive weeds, it is important to plant native trees,” Gradon says. “Once they’re established they will help minimise the re-growth of invasive weeds in the area. This will help feed and encourage native flora and fauna to thrive.”

On Friday February 11, Gradon was surprised with being name a recipient of a prestigious Paul Harris Fellowship which recognises those that have shown selfless dedication and commitment to the community. It was presented by Ellerslie Sunrise Rotary.

“For years, this person (Gradon) has been an outstanding example of personal sacrifice and commitment, working to ensure our forest flourish, free from pests and predators, where our precious native species can live in safety,” Ellersile Sunrise Rotary president Mirko Poetzscher says. “This recipient is a perfect example of Service above Self (Rotary motto).”
Gradon was speechless.

“It’s unbelievable,” she says. “I’m so humbled by Ellersile Rotary. Thank you for the huge honour.”

In December 2020, FoM noted that, under the leadership of Gradon and neighbour Martyn Neal, the owners of Lot 29 are “collectively very active in managing their properties”.

“Their efforts are being rewarded by bird sightings, reduced invasive weeds and the potential to stabilisse further slips because of new plantings they have undertaken.”

Gradon told the Times she’s seen Kaka, Tui, Kereru, Ruru and a number of other native birds on Lot 29 after years of effort. “It’s such a reward seeing them,” she says.

“I couldn’t have done it without a number of people – Sally Barclay (FoM), Allan Riley (FoM), Warwick Kitchen (Forest and Bird), Lorelle Stranaghan (Pest Free Howick), Martyn Neal and the rest of the neighbours with their contributions and support, Sylvie Wilkinson and Duncan Lonley (Trap Library East Auckland), Niklas Erikson (Auckland Council Biosecurity), and Howick Local Board.”

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