It has been a busy few months since the last update.
Keith Hawkins from DOC in Whangarei has joined the team as the Assistant Project Manager. Keith brings years of experience to the team including Project Managing the rat eradication on Taranga Island in Northland in 2010 and working as the Assistant Project Manager alongside DOC’s Peter Corson for the rat and cat eradication carried out on Great Mercury Island in 2014. It is great to have Keith onboard.
All but finalised, all positions have been offered to candidates. A final team of 13 people will be going to the island, which includes a six person bait loading team, two pilots an engineer, a GIS mapping specialist an eradication expert and a medic. Profiles of the team members have been going up on the website blog and will continue to do so over the coming months so look out for those.
We are finalising a contract for the helicopters through a company called Island Aerial Solutions. Two helicopters will be supplied for the baiting operation. One from Amuri Helicopters based in Hanmer and one from Southern Lakes Helicopters based in Te Anau. We very much look forward to working with these teams.
This is the crux of the operation at the moment and we are negotiating a contract for a ship to deliver the helicopters, 65 tonne of bait and 30 tonne of jet-fuel to the site, departing the 1st of June, 2016. The aim is to have this contract signed by mid February with a trial in March to work through the details of loading and unloading helicopters and takeoff and landing practice on the deck.
In December we received the kitset for the temporary helicopter hangar and conducted a practice setup in a warehouse in Invercargill –see the timelapse. The trial was to ensure the manual method we had planned for setting it up and taking it down would work on the island. We learnt a lot from this trial, which has lead to many refinements. Thanks to all of those involved for the big effort. This kit has now been quarantined and packed into a shipping container for delivery by the New Zealand Navy in March this year. Stuart’s Timber near Invercargill are busy preparing the wood for the helicopter platform upon which the hangar will be erected and then removed at the completion of the project.
Navy site visit
The HMNZS Canterbury is gearing up to assist DOC with work programmes on Campbell Island and Antipodes Island in March. The Navy will deliver the wood and infrastructure to the Antipodes in March along with a DOC team to prepare the site and construct the helicopter platform. The aim is to build the frame of the hangar on this trip ready for the cover to be pulled on when the advance eradication team arrives in late May.
Also of note a team including two volunteers: builders– Greg Clarke from Dunedin and Joe Hay of Nelson, accompanied Albatross researchers Graeme Elliott and Kath Walker to the Antipodes on January the 4th this year. The team was accompanied and partly funded by a group of amateur radio operators transmitting and recording responses to the newly logged call sign for the Antipodes of ZL9A. The team had a rapid visit and struck some luck with a short weather window upon arrival to offload all of the gear we had sent. The amazing team on the yacht Evohe, skippered by Steve Kafka, were outstanding once again at the difficult site and provided great support for the duration. Repairs and additions to the hut site were completed. Work included installation of windows to replace those damaged in the slip in 2014, installation of a second water tank and stand, additions to the solar setup and electrical system and installation of shelving and doors to the washroom and pantry. A special mention goes out to Geoff Rogers who kindly donated a beautiful hand crafted rimu table, which took some work to get ashore and up the cliff to the hut where it now sits as a centre piece and will likely become a treasured icon of the site.
Thanks for the fantastic effort for all involved with this trip including the quarantine team in Invercargill for the great work they do.
The key events over the next few months are:
Feb 19th Contracts for shipping and helicopters signed
Feb 25th -19 March Operation Endurance: NZ Navy site visit to install helicopter platform and hangar
March 25th – 28th Shipping and helicopter trials, calibration of bait buckets
April 20th Construction of 100 bait pods complete
April 25th– May 6th Delivery of bait
May 25th Planned departure of forward eradication team to finalise site preparation
June 1st Planned loading and departure of cargo ship with helicopters and bait and the rest of the eradication team
June 15th Planned date for readiness to start baiting as the weather allows!
Thanks for the support and keep following our progress at: