Give our precious wildlife a chance! July 2021

Former Volunteering Northland Outreach Coordinator Trish Clarke

Trish Clarke is a local artist, sculptor, and designer. She was one of the three project leaders for the Camera Obscura in Whang─ürei, an 8m weathering steel sculpture within which is a Camera Obscura. 
Trish is also actively involved with predator free activities around our city – from her day job as the administrator for the Pukenui Western Hills Forest Charitable Trust to volunteering with the Parihaka Community Landcare group, to rallying her neighbours together to start backyard trapping in Whau Valley.
Trish has started distributing traps to her neighbours and tracking their progress on TrapNZ. She has read some research about how waterways can act as corridors for rats and says it’s important to have predator control in her area as it backs onto the Waiarohia Stream that runs into the city centre.
“If every person maintained a trap in their backyard, it would make a huge difference! It’s about giving other animals, especially our precious native wildlife, a chance at life. We catch about 2-3 rats a week – imagine if everyone was catching that amount, how our natives could thrive. 
“I believe that if everyone did their small part, we should be able to reach the government’s goal to become predator free by 2050. We need mass involvement and for backyard trapping to be automatic – like putting on your seatbelt! The more we do, the better it gets.
“My neighbours have all been pretty keen to be involved especially as the Tiakina rat traps are humanely built. They come with a wooden box surrounding the trap so you can be assured that only rats will find their way in the trap, and are killed in the most humane way possible.” 
She started her journey in predator control by working at Volunteering Northland and saw the various opportunities that came up for volunteers. The one that caught her eye was the trapping on Parihaka, as it was something she and her partner, Ian, could do together.
Trish brought her son along to the monthly trap clearing which, she says, actually helped him to secure a part-time job while he’s still at school. “Having volunteering on your CV is very important, especially when you’re starting off – it was key in getting him a job interview.”
“It’s great to be able to do this with my family and get a bit of forced exercise in for a good cause.  It’s about getting out and about in the bush and supporting grassroots organisations to make a small difference in our city. I mean, I can’t change the world, but I can change what’s around me, especially in my own backyard!”
Trish says, imagine if we could introduce kiwi in Parihaka. “We’ve been really successful in introducing kiwi back into the Pukenui Forest, so it wouldn’t be that hard. We need to protect what we have, and our New Zealand biodiversity is extremely important to our ecology. 
Trish says she knows a lot of people that care about the environment and want to do something to help. 
“There are so many benefits to being involved, especially making you feel great! You could do something like maintaining a trap line with your local conservation group, or come along and help with kiwi listening, or even having a trap in your backyard is really important. It gives you a sense of wellbeing and achievement, you meet new people and learn new skills. I’ve learnt so much!”