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STNN Volunteer of the Quarter | Tony Dunn

Tony Dunn volunteer trapping rats
Tony in his element trapping rats

We chatted with Tony about his involvement with STNN and Titirangi over the years. Tony generously offers his time, passion and expertise to STNN, especially his area of interest in pest eradication. We asked Tony a few questions about his time with STNN and living in Titirangi.

How long have you lived in Titirangi?

38 years living in Titirangi. We recently moved to retire in Blockhouse Bay. We miss the Titirangi bush and nature.

What drew you to Titirangi?

I’ve always been drawn to the bush, and have loved it, and there is nowhere in Auckland like Titirangi. To be surrounded by it and live with nature and wildlife.

What do you love about living in Titirangi?

Birds and nature. Tui’s are lovely as they fly by to see what is happening.

How did you become involved with STNN? And when?

Right from the start of STNN - Vicki Sargesson was the leader that drummed up interest, and as soon as she spoke with me (she was a neighbour), I was on board, from 2016. There were maybe 20 locally interested people at the start. Some of these were older locals keen to do something but not physically able to do too much. I was happy to help out with their sections.

Pest eradication is a driver for me. I was keen to get involved in this way. I had already been working on Arataki traplines for 10 years but went to all the workshops I could to learn as much as I could in the early days.

What do you do for STNN?

The areas that I focus on for pest eradication are Okewa Road, Miha Road and Tanekaha Road. I find it is best to keep the pest eradication areas small and local so they can be checked more regularly. I check these areas weekly. With regular checking, it can reduce the need for toxins (bait).

This is about 6 hours a week, which I do across 2 - 3 days. Which works for me, and I love being out in the bush.

I’ve also been involved with the nursery and the plants for weeds program.

What do you hope STNN can achieve?

It would be hard to get to pest elimination in the short term; suppression is as good as possible. The reason I do volunteer work with STNN is to reduce the pests in the unique area and inspire others to volunteer as well.

The biggest challenge for STNN is volunteers to do the weeding and pest control work. More volunteers would mean more ability to cover the area and do more.

What have you seen change over your time living in Titirangi? Good or Bad

I’ve definitely seen an increase in the number of people in the area, which is good and bad. It means more cars parked on the roads, especially Okewa Road and Opou Road, and I find myself having to navigate around them.

A higher density of people brings more problems with increases of weeds etc. But it does bring people who want to live in the area and do something for their environment.

Tell us about your involvement with the petrel program.

Vicki Sargesson discovered the birds in the area. She found them nesting one night with a flashlight. She was the driving force behind the traps in the area to protect the nesting birds.

We are protecting 8- 10 burrows at the moment, and we don’t actually know how many nests there are in the area. Petrels are fascinating birds and use the pohutakawas to launch themselves. They are not great launching birds!

Since Tony began recording his trappings with TrapNZ he has reported 12 hedgehogs, 204 mice and 170 rats! With more volunteers in the bush trapping imagine what could be achieved?

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