Volunteers at the heart of Kaipupu Point Wildlife Sanctuary

In Picton, you’ll find many of the locals have a passion for the environment.

That’s why Kaipupu Point Wildlife Sanctuary Trust don’t often have trouble finding people to help keep the sanctuary thriving.

“Picton is an amazing community and volunteering is a big part of this – there are so many organisations in Picton that have volunteers at the heart of it,“ Trust Project Coordinator Rachel Russell says.

“We’re really lucky that a good proportion of the community are really environmentally-aware -because of our location, it’s just part of life in Picton.”

Kaipupu Point, a mainland conservation island in Picton Harbour and gateway to the Queen Charlotte Sounds, is home to a range of native flora and fauna including kiwi, tui, bellbird, fantail, kereru, wētā, geckos and skinks.

Pest control efforts have been a huge part of ensuring these species are safe in the sanctuary.

Trust Committee Member Judith Manning says she has volunteered at Kaipupu Point for a number of years.

“Probably once a month I’ll be out there checking traps, and I‘ve got a great interest in plants so I volunteered myself to do some plant work out there; checking what we’ve got, and what we could get in the future to help feed our birds,” she says.

“It’s very important because the flora in the sanctuary is what supports the birds and animals out there as much as anything.”

Fellow Committee Member Nicky Jenkins says the work of volunteers has seen the transformation of the sanctuary from almost bare land to an area buzzing with life.

“It was very lacking in vegetation to start with. We had working bees to try and bring ferns and things from other places in the sanctuary and put them around the tracks. It was open and you could see the sea all the way around, but now the whole place has changed, it’s quite extraordinary.”

Kaipupu Point is used as a teaching tool, with school groups visiting the sanctuary to learn about conservation.

Wildlife Educator Andrew John says it’s important to teach children about their environment to instil a sense of responsibility in them.

“Kids can know a lot about nature, but if they don’t have any empathy with the living world then I don’t think that’s good. I want to make sure that in 10 or 20 years’ time, they are still strongly involved with nature.”

Mr John says visiting and learning about Kaipupu Point can help children form a connection with the land and wildlife.

“Talking to the kids, I’ve noticed they start telling me about things they’ve seen which they probably wouldn’t have paid much attention to before. I remember one kid telling me they saw an albatross in Picton – which it clearly wasn’t, it was a large black-backed gull – but the point was they were aware of it. Deep down they are connecting what we do in the classroom with what they do in the outdoors.”