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Coastal Restoration Trust of New Zealand


-------- Keeping our Coasts Alive Autumn 2020

  Conference attendees at Lyle's place 19 March 2020  

Chair's message


Kia ora tātou


I write this from my bubble where, like many of you, I‘m astonished at how rapidly the world has changed over the last few weeks. We convened our annual conference over three days in Invercargill whilst the Covid-19 crisis was developing.


The week before the conference was due to start there were 5 cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand and we sent out a message regarding Covid-19 to everyone registered for the conference. We looked at it from day to day and made the decision to go ahead with it. We took precautions. The staff at the venue Transport World were amazing. We had to keep reminding ourselves that hugging, hongi and shaking hands were no-nos, which was difficult when meeting long-time friends.


On the first day of the conference the number of Covid-19 cases in New Zealand had jumped to 20 and three days later, when we dispersed, the number had increased to 66. Just five days later, when the Government imposed level 4 lockdown of our country, there were 215 cases. As I write this the number is over 1200.


I am not aware that anyone, who attended the conference, has tested positive for Covid-19 and I'm sure we all would have been contacted by the health authorities if there were. I won't use the word lucky but we were very fortunate to be able to convene our conference before the world changed.


The conference was a great success and our heartfelt thanks go to Environment Southland and Invercargill City Council especially, for sponsoring, organising and hosting us. Other sponsors are acknowledged elsewhere in this newsletter.


Stay safe in your bubbles.


Ngā mihi nui

Greg Bennett


Thanks to all our conference sponsors


We couldn't have had such an amazing conference without the support of our sponsors. We are very grateful to:


Environment Southland, our Platinum Sponsor and host, and especially the help of Nathan Cruickshank, who took the lead.


Invercargill City Council, our Gold Sponsor.


Southland District Council, who sponsored the Thursday fieldtrip.


Coastlands Plant Nursery, our long term supporter, who sponsored the conference dinner.


Department of Conservation, who sponsored the pre-conference workshop "Working with Nature".


and Pukerau Nursery, Riverside Horticulture, Daltons and Back Country Cuisine, who all financially helped make this conference a success.


Please support our sponsors with your business if you can.


Jim Dahm receives our Pīngao & Toheroa Award


Jim Dahm was presented with our highest award, the Pīngao & Toheroa Award during our conference, for his life-time work on coastal restoration, mainly in the Waikato, Coromandel, Bay of Plenty and Auckland areas.


Jim was a board member of our Trust for 12 years.


He is a coastal restoration contractor who knows how to deal with people and issues on the ground.


He has played a major part in many of our research projects over the years.


At our conferences he speaks about our projects and his own experiences and these have more recently morphed into full day workshops.


A well-deserved award for Jim!


Photo: Greg, our Chair, Jim and Moniqua Nelson-Tunley, CRT trustee. (Photographer: Tim Park)


Coastal Restoration Award won by Castlecliff Coast Care


Our annual Coastal Restoration Award was won by Castlecliff Coast Care and presented at our conference dinner in Invercargill.


Graham and Lyn Pearson are tireless leaders of the group. They organise community planting days, involve school children to work and learn about the dunes and their inhabitants, and host students needing work experience. They also never miss a CRT conference!


The next challenge is to organise the 2021 CRT conference.


Thanks to Coastlands Plant Nursery for sponsoring this award.


Photo: Lyn, Graham, Greg, our Chair, and Betsy Young, CRT trustee. (Photographer: Tim Park)


Enviroschool students report on conference


Three students and their teacher from Aparima Enviroschool attended our conference. Here is a summary of what they took away from  it:


Working together towards a common environmental goal is important, as well as listening to a range of perspectives and aiming for a holistic response which values both traditional knowledge and uses modern technology and equipment.

The best place to start is just to start, ie. to do something small. For example, Tui Lewis from Hutt City enthused Alexis to document the historic buildings in Riverton ‘time-team’ style, in order to collect 2020 data that can be used for comparison.


Read more about their conference experience in their newsletter.


Photo: Jamie, Alexis and Dom


From Post-Graduate Scholarship 2020 recipient Cate Ryan


I returned from my first CRT conference in March inspired by the vibrant dune network and some amazing field trips - Stewart Island being the highlight.


Re-joining the real world at the onset of a pandemic was a shock (no doubt for everyone), but I’ve been very fortunate in that it hasn’t slowed down my PhD very much. My research is broadly about monitoring active dune ecosystems using remote sensing and at this stage I’m desk-bound, gathering imagery from around the country already collected by satellites, drones or from existing field datasets. I’ve never been happier to be desk bound! Over the coming months I’ll be exploring this data and drawing out patterns and processes around vegetation cover and composition and relating this to dune condition. Later in the year I’ll be out collecting field data myself, but hopefully we will be clear of Covid-19 by then.


This image (Vegetation classes identified from UAV imagery at Kaitorete Spit (Case et al., 2019) is an example of the sort of thing I’ll be doing. Here different vegetation types have been identified from drone imagery using different bandwidths. Software is then trained to identify these same vegetation types over much larger scales. This idea is to increase the scale and speed of monitoring efforts.


Tāne’s Tree Trust's Carbon Calculator


Tāne’s Tree Trust has developed a National Carbon Calculator for planted New Zealand native forests.


This tool allows you to work out how much carbon your planted native forest is storing over a defined period of time. It also allows you to determine how many native shrubs and trees you will need to plant to off-set your carbon footprint.


Start here to do your calculations.


This map of New Zealand shows the locations of planted stands of native trees and shrubs assessed by Tāne’s Tree Trust. Almost 10,000 planted trees and shrubs were measured during the survey, ranging in age from 3-110 years. Most stands were less than 50 years of age. Stand density averaged 1900 stems/ha for high forest trees and 3500 stems/ha for shrubs and small trees which are often used for establishing an initial cover on open sites. The results of these surveys were used in creating the Carbon Calculator.


Spartina search dogs


Most of us have heard of dogs finding native birds or pest animals. Now there are also dogs who can indicate particular plant species, which is very useful when densities are low and it looks a lot like other plants, such as Spartina, which is a grass clogging up estuaries.


In October 2017 Southland DOC staff talked with a local dog trainer about the possibility of training a dog to find Spartina in areas of very low density. A young collie (Wink) was obtained and in a controlled environment was trained to indicate on spartina plants. A field trial was undertaken in an area in New River estuary in February 2018 where DOC staff searched an area and recorded any plants found and then, two days later, Wink searched the same area and any plants found were recorded. This trial proved very successful with the dog finding all recorded plants plus two extra that staff hadn’t found. Between February and April 2018 Wink was used in conjunction with DOC staff to search for plants in several of our estuaries and continued to show the benefit of using a dog to assist in this work.


Three years ago, Kiwi bank became a project partner to the Conservation Dog Programme. This has enabled the Department to increase its work in both the pest detection and threatened species detection areas which includes supporting emerging new areas of work such as the Spartina programme and the purchase of another Spartina dog named Bailey.


Read the full story.


Help protect a sand dune totara forest


An 80-hectare property in Otatara, just west of Invercargill, has been identified as one of the most important natural areas in Southland that is not already protected.


The most valuable part of the property, from a conservation perspective, is an area of totara forest on sand dunes, which is a naturally rare ecosystem that is classified as nationally endangered. The property also contains localised areas of matai-pokaka-kahikatea forest.


Patches of this kind of ecosystem in the Otatara area are considered the best example of the sand dune totara and totara-matai sequence in New Zealand.


The Native Forest Restoration Trust wants to purchase the property and have until Wednesday 20 May to raise $1.5 million to save this, one of New Zealand’s most important wild places.


If you want to read more or chip in with some $$ please go here.


Coastal Restoration Handbook updated



One of our most important resources, the Coastal Restoration Handbook,  has just had some updated articles and pages uploaded to our website. The most important changes being the Table of Contents page and those about our new website on vegetation monitoring on dunes (14.2 and 14.3).




You can download all parts of the handbook by going to this link.


New additions to our database


All these recently added papers and much more can be found in our database.


G.F. Taylor, I.D. Marsden and D. Hart. Management of vehicle and horse users on sand beaches: Implications for shellfish populations


J. Ogden, Y. Deng, M. Horrocks, S. Nichol and S. Anderson (2006) Sequential impacts of Polynesian and European settlement on vegetation and environmental processes recorded in sediments at Whangapoua Estuary, Great Barrier Island, New Zealand


G.P. Marks and C.S. Nelson. (1979) Sedimentology and Evolution of Omaro Spit, Coromandel Peninsula.


Waikato Regional Council (2020) Give your coast a helping hand (a discussion document)


Conference presentations online


Many of the presentations from our conference are now on our Southland 2020 page and we hope to add the last of them soon. Have a look at them, especially if you  didn't attend the conference.


I guess that most of you are stuck inside while wishing you could be outside preparing your coastal areas for planting. It is worrying too that pest and weed control work is getting behind.


However, it looks hopeful that we will be able to get the planting done this winter, and with lots of people getting time to contemplate life, some might decide it is time to volunteer for coastal restoration projects.


Wishing you a  happy and successful winter!


Lyneke Onderwater



Photo: Moniqua Nelson-Tunley

  Photo: Moniqua Nelson-Tunley
Principal Partners
Greater Wellington Regional Council Environment Canterbury Northland Regional Council
Christchurch City Council Department of Conservation
Coastal Restoration Trust of New Zealand      PO Box 11302, Manners Street, Wellington 6142
Ph: 04 889 2337      Email:
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