Friends see the difference at The Blade

Conservation volunteer John Rowlandson says they’re making a difference at The Blade.

Western Bay of Plenty volunteers were out in all weather laying traps and ensuring native birds and flora can survive as part of Conservation Week.

Conservation volunteer John Rowlandson spends hours each week trapping “the baddies” — stoats, possums, rats, feral cats — to protect his favourite place, The Blade, at the end of Whakamārama Rd.

He’s a member of Friends of the Blade, a volunteer group formed to develop a pest-free zone around the Pā Kererū walking track and the rest area. The area is named after a massive bulldozer blade that was left behind from one of the rimu mills from early last century.

More than 40 volunteers visit all the trap lines about every fortnight to record dead pests, re-bait and reset the traps.


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John got involved when he met people in the community who were already involved, so he went along to see what it was about. That was about six years ago. He loves being outdoors, and hitting predators to give the native wildlife a fighting chance.

Friends of The Blade taking care of business.
Friends of The Blade taking care of business.

“If we can get rid of the baddies then we can get the good guys to thrive,” he says.

It’s working, too.

“There’s no question the birdlife is vastly improved – so many more kererū, tūī, bellbirds, robins and fantails than there were five or six years ago.


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“It’s satisfying to see results and that we’re making a difference. If we weren’t seeing the results, catching the baddies wouldn’t be as motivating, but we can see we’re making a difference.”

He previously worked in IT, but always loved the bush and fresh air so he says he’d be up there every couple of weeks anyway. By volunteering he can enjoy the outdoors and do something that provides a bonus by making a difference.

“Some of these areas we’re trapping are off the beaten track so you feel like you’re looking after your own space where no one ever goes. Some of our volunteers are very proud of their traplines.

“It’s also good to run into people on the tracks who appreciate what we’re doing and can see the difference we’re making.”

Anyone interested in joining Friends of the Blade can do so at or on the Friends’ website

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