After our leisurely look around the water front, our friends soon arrived on Sunday morning and we got on with our day. First up was a visit to the World Press Photo Exhibition 09, held at Shed 11 on the waterfront. The 200 award winning photos on display were chosen from over 96,000 entries and the exhibition travels to 45 countries. The categories range from sport, war and conflict, and human interest. Some of the photos told quite brutal stories and made uncomfortable viewing, they were quite powerful images. Most of us went in to a competition to name the photo which moved us the most, with a chance to win a Canon camera.
We visited the Pataka Museum at Porirua after lunch to see the display about Mana Island. Mana Island lies off the Kapiti Coast and has had many occupiers over the centuries, starting with the local Maori people. Artefacts such as fish hooks, spears, and animal remains found in middens provide evidence of human occupation back to the 14th century. European occupation of the island began in the 1830s when a whaling station was established and then most of the vegetation was cleared to create one of New Zealand’s earliest pastoral farms. The Department of Conservation took over management of the island in 1987 and began a massive eradication scheme to rid the island of millions of mice, with 5500 bait stations spread across the island spaced at every 50 metres. Eighteen months later the last mouse was caught and the island was declared rodent free. Mana was the largest Island to be cleared of mice in the world at the time. Endangered native birds were re-introduced and a long term tree planting programme began.
This latter fact triggered our memories as our SLG friends attended one of these tree planting days way back in September 1992 – seventeen years ago when we were all younger and fitter!! (After a lot of searching I managed to find the photos we took that day). Our task was to plant cabbage trees on a hill in a specified area. Once that job was done, we were free to explore the island for the rest of the afternoon.
“Watch out when you walk down that track”, the ranger told us all. “There is a male Takahe guarding the nest and he is very aggressive”. That was putting it mildly – the Takahe rushed out as we walked past and attacked one of our group, tripping him up. These beautiful blue/green birds are about the size of a hen, but they are much sturdier and have a very strong beak. What does one do when you are attacked by an enraged endangered bird defending his nest? Our friend picked the bird up by the legs, keeping well away from that strong snapping beak, tossed the bird over a bush, and ran away fast!! Luckily the ranger didn’t notice him man-handling the precious bird. As the afternoon wore on we heard the bird attack other people several more times. He was obviously upset with all the public wandering around his territory. We had a great day over at Mana Island and it is good to think that we have done a little bit to help with the tree planting to bring the island back to what it used to be.
Here comes trouble