8
June

WCG 10th Anniversary Dinner Speech – Chairperson, Grant Hensman

I would like to start by acknowledging our Patrons Sir and Lady Edgar for all that they have done and are doing for this Organisation.

Thank you.

They, along with Dick and Diana Hubbard are responsible for all that you see and are enjoying tonight.  Not one cent of Public or Fund raised money is being used for this occasion.

The Hilton has generously donated the venue and helped with the meal.  We acknowledge and thank them all.

10 years goes by pretty quick as I’m sure an increasing number of you have noticed.

From humble beginnings to a reasonably well oiled organisation, it’s been a pleasure to watch this cause grow no pun intended, and be recognised as the serious issue it is.

That is one of our greatest success, the wider awareness of The Threat that it is, because without that awareness and acceptance that something has to be done, there can be no meaningful action without endless battles and criticism of those dead Trees.

It’s interesting to note the reduction but not elimination of phone calls and debates that we find ourselves in defending the need to kill this invasive species.

The fact you are all here tonight and I haven’t had any heckling yet, is testament to that.

We all know that there area lot of good things that can be done with money and that there is never enough of it for those causes.

Mother nature , bless her, has a way of insuring that survival of the fittest, the Dominate species, good or bad, is the way forward.

So man kind dominates but he is not always smart, or smart with his choices.

No one is placing blame for any past decisions.  Those decisions were made with the best of intentions at the time.

So now we have to make the best decision, the smart decision, to eradicate the wilding threat whilst we can.

If we, this generation, now, don’t continue to act and up the pace then the future for our birds, plants, recreational opportunities, biodiversity and scenery here in our homeland is indeed bleak in a very short time.

There is a great deal of hope.

We are in a position to win thanks to the efforts of those who lead the way.

We are here to celebrate that tonight because without that 10 years of co-ordinated control things would look a lot different.

Cecil Peak would be noticeable green, like Ben Lomond behind town if we had done nothing.

With that gone so is the effect of light, tussock and snow that we all love so much and which gives a home to all our endemic species.

Provides our scenery and the special place we call home.

Who doesn’t enjoy a sunset on Cecil Peak.

Have a look at this years work.

8172 Trees.

The Remarkables have had well over 100,000 trees removed.

Those initial trees would now be great grandparents, spreading there seeds far and wide, smothering all that is in their way.

All you who have had a hand in stopping this take a pat on the back and reflect that although the job is not complete you have given the opportunity for a choice to future generations to make.

Without your efforts there would not now be a choice left.

Well done.

We can’t do this alone, we need all of you to help.

There are many ways, physically removing the trees, financially helping to fund the work.  In kind by sponsoring and donating to the fund raising.  Educating the young and those who are unaware of the issue, or have a misguided belief that it will stop at some point and that a few wilding trees aren’t bad.

Importantly, I say wilding trees.

No one here is anti trees.

Just the wrong species in the wrong place.

Conversely the right species are a real asset, we all agree on that.

Why can’t we be bold and progressively replace those wrong species behind town with a better non invasive tree, instead of having a monotone of green that will always produce seed and spread suffocating the natives.

This causes us to continuously spend time and money year after year until eventually we will run out of support and immediately go backwards.

We should be bold, progressively, remove that forest and replant with species that attract birds, give colour and variety and don’t spread.

In my mind it could be so much better.  The back drop to our town.

Colour, Variety, Park like, sunshine onto open areas, easy to move around, full of bird song dove tails with predator free and the work wildlife trusts are doing.

If I was an artist like Grahame Sydney I could paint you a picture of it.

But instead you will have to use your imagination.

Which I think works to my advantage as like the girl friend you will all have a picture of beauty in your minds.

If we don’t, it will be like bailing a boat with a leak for the next hundred years.  Why would you do that when you can fix the leak.

What’s stopping us, only our collective will to do it and bureaucracy another Threat.

I don’t wish to labour on that point.

But endless paperwork to do what. 20-30 years ago could be done as of right with no discernible difference in the out come, is tiring and costly.

I challenge those in power to help, to be positive, proactive, and most importantly make a decision to keep things moving.

I spoke to a smaller audience at the reporting to the public night at Skyline in September, I said that what we are doing is interlinked to the success of other Trusts, if we don’t win they will fail.

On that I think most of us agree.  I could try and look for a positive side and say that most of our introduced pest problems.

Deer, Goats, possum, rabbits, mustelids etc. will be greatly deminished through lack of habitat

Should we let the wilding trees dominate?

It would be hard to argue with that in my mind, but unfortunately the patient dies with the so called cure.

A lot of other Trusts are doing great work here and through out the country.

The Trails Trust are building tracks that we all enjoy but what happens to those same trails when they are completely surrounded by trees.

Anyone who walks up Queenstown Hill or the first part of Ben Lomond knows the answer.

No View

Cold

Lifeless

This is not what we or our visitors come for and enjoy.

The criticism that we have had and still occasionally get about the killing of the trees at

Roaring Meg fails to recognise the above fact.

The road through the Kawarau Gorge would become a lifeless drive through forest without our action.

Witness the McKenzie Country, around the Mt. Cook turn off if you doubt me.

Another Trust that is doing good work is the local re-afforestation Trust and Nursery at Kelvin Heights.

Growing and planting natives to support bird life and diversity around the District.

What happens if the wilding trees go unchecked.

All that they do is killed by these trees.

The Dart Rees Trust is trapping predators and doing good work at the head of the Lake.

They are to be commended and encouraged.

But what happens when the wilding problem gets away from us.

The very forest and eco system that our natives have adapted to and live in, in balance changes more rapidly then they can adapt.

I had the privilege a few weeks ago to have a look at what Mutt Lange is creating with his QE11 covenanted land behind Arrowtown and down the Motatapu.

Fantastic that he is spending and backing such a project which will benefit us all.

He’s killing the predators, re-introducing weka’s, planted countless natives and spent a lot on tree control.

But this is all lost if we don’t control and remove the seed sources that constantly spread onto that land.

QLDC have made the commitment to remove the Arrowtown forest that wasn’t and isn’t without it’s detractors.

What those detractors don’t see is the cost of control through those areas that Mutt is restoring.

This can only be completed by hand as other forms of control are non selective.

This comes at a high cost every 3 – 4 years and in my mind for a public group spending public funds isn’t a prudent way forward.

Note  some of those submitters stated on the record that they can control wildings for $20 a hectare.

Please do this community a favour and largely relieve us of a job by giving us the names of those contractors who can control the wilding species for the rates stated and published.

Because we can’t come close.

I will leave you now to reflect with pride on all that we have accomplished but also to acknowledge that the job is only half done and we all need to get behind the scum and push hard.

Thank you.