Local essentials with Paul Ward: professional kiwi wrangler
Paul Ward has an unwavering love of Kiwis. Not just his fellow friends, neighbours and Newtown residents, but the native birds with the chop-stick bill and dinosaur claws who he works tirelessly to return to the whenua in Wellington.
Paul is the driving force behind Capital Kiwi – a large-scale community conservation project dedicated to bringing the kiwi back to Kiwis. This 2018 Wellingtonian of the Year finalist and passionate ‘bird nerd’ shares a bit about his groundbreaking work, along with a few of his favourite spots to visit around the city when he’s not stuck in the remote backblocks trapping stoats.
As a community, there’s one pivotal action we can take to enable kiwi to thrive - and that’s getting rid of stoats. By the end of winter 2019, Capital Kiwi will have placed 4,400 traps - including some gas-powered self-resetting A24s from local company, Goodnature - over 23,000ha from Porirua to Red Rocks.
From Whakatane to Oban, kiwi re-population projects have shown that Kiwis and kiwi can live together. Over the harbour in Sunny Grove, Wainuiomata, residents get to fall asleep with their own Goodnight Kiwi calling, thanks to the efforts of the Remutaka Forest Park Trust.
Refueling the protectors
Garage Project Taproom on Aro Street is my favourite pit-stop after checking the Polhill Protectors’ stoat and rat trap-lines. It’s a great way to reward visitors and volunteers for looking after our wild Wellington backyard. The Taproom is also Capital Kiwi’s unofficial office (from Friday late arvo). Designer Tomas Cottle, whose work you may recognise on a can of Garage Project's Garagista, created Capital Kiwi’s banner.
Embracing the great outdoors
The South Coast is a magical spot. Capital Kiwi's operations team has been so privileged to lay traps on the stations of the southwest. It’s pretty epic standing on a wind-blasted ridge over Te Kamaru Bay overlooking the Cook Strait to Tapuae-o-Uenuku, or looking up past Mill Creek to Mana and Kāpiti. It’s exciting to think this whenua will have kiwi footprints on it again soon.
I also love seal spotting at Red Rocks (look out for kiwi night tours not too far away), jumping off the wharf at Hataitai Beach with the girls after school on a hot day, and checking out the korora (penguins) coming ashore at Evan’s Bay around dusk.