Celebrating Volunteer Week: Manaaki Tai – Care of the Cove Making a Difference 

As we celebrate Volunteer Week, we spotlight the efforts of the “Manaaki Tai – Care of the Cove,” a dedicated group working tirelessly to preserve and enhance our local environment. This group focuses on Winstone’s Cove and Marama Street Reserve, both integral parts of the North-West Wildlink. This vital habitat corridor connects offshore islands in the Hauraki Gulf to the Waitakere Ranges, providing essential stopovers for birds traveling between predator-free islands and nearby regions. The area also borders the Long Bay-Okura Marine Reserve, making it a crucial crossing point for birds from Long Bay Regional Park. 

In January 2019, the Friends of Winstone’s Cove team was formed, partnering with Sustainable Coastlines to contribute to their Litter Intelligence Project. This initiative involves collecting litter data at Winstone’s Cove, helping to understand and mitigate pollution in our marine environments.  

Now the group focuses on the environmental restoration of the cove area.   The beachside reserve was initially dense with invasive weeds such as watsonia and agapanthus, or bare grass that was beginning to be undercut and eroded into the sea. “As a group, we opted for the cut-and-paste method to manage these weeds. Over time, we meticulously removed the treated roots before new sprouts could take hold. This effort allowed us to plant beautiful native species every year since 2020, and followed by extensive mulching in 2022 and again in 2023. These native plants now help protect the area from the damage caused by changing sea levels, ensuring the resilience of the ecosystem.” These plants, like many planting sites in the area, were supplied by the Auckland Council Parks department but their planting and maintenance is made possible volunteers such as Friends of the Cove.  

“Joining our Torbay Restoration group, Manaaki Tai, at Winstone Cove, has fulfilled a strong desire to contribute to both the environment and our community. The work we do, from controlling pests and weeds to native planting, not only enhances biodiversity but also combats erosion, which is crucial. Above all, i really enjoy working among like-minded individuals which makes this truly enjoyable.” – Maureen Robertson, a regular volunteer, 

“Being able to look back and see the difference we have made at Winstone’s Cove is so rewarding. We have transformed it from a weed-infested and inaccessible area into a thriving natural habitat and picnic spot. Volunteering each month with Care of the Cove for a couple of hours to do some weeding and take care of this treasure always makes me feel good. The chance to spend some time in nature with friends and neighbours is an added bonus.” says Kirianne Nicolson, a dedicated volunteer. 

“It’s been wonderful to see the transformation from weedy banks to a lush, usable space.  

Lots of effort from the team, but so worth it to make a beautiful place even better!”  says Naomi Gray, a regular volunteer.  

This dedicated group also works on predator control in the area and has established a network of traps and bait stations to decrease predators and allow the native plants and animals to flourish.  They now maintain a network of 14 traps and 24 bait stations extending from Winstone’s Cove to the Merc Centre at Long Bay. In the last year they have removed a significant number of rats and possums from the area.  

“Our predator control group at Winstones Cove has been trapping for 2-3 years now and has caught a surprising amount of possums, but when we did the possum party in late March in the new area at the edge of the Long Bay Regional Park and caught 7 possums in 2 weeks, it was super satisfying!  

March/April was a perfect time of year as the Possums are active and they loved our overripe feijoas and stinky bananas!” laughs Naomi. 

Want to get involved or know more about possum parties? 

The restoration and pest control work at Winstone’s Cove is funded by Restore Hibiscus & Bays, made possible by generous support from the Local Board, Foundation North, and the Lotteries Commission.  

For more information or to get involved in this or other restoration projects in the East Coast Bays, please contact us at info@restorehb.org.nz. Together, we can ensure that our beautiful coastal and reserve areas remain thriving habitats for the diverse wildlife that depends on them.  Or visit our Restore Hibiscus & Bays What’s On calendar to see all our regular volunteer opportunities.