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New Recruits Needed for War on Quarantine Island Weeds

Volunteer Graeme on Quarantine Island

New Recruits Needed for War on Quarantine Island Weeds

Dunedin locals are invited to take part in summer weeding bees being held on the harbour’s historic Quarantine Island/Kamau Taurua.

Quite a few weeds are invading the Island, including ivy, broom, tree lupin, sweet brier, Darwin’s Barberry, boxthorn, gorse, wilding pines, periwinkle, and elder. 

Over the last few years, determined Quarantine Island/Kamau Taurua Community Trust volunteers have worked to protect the weedfree areas of the Island from these invasive species.  The Trust hopes that enough locals will take part in their summer weeding bees to blitz in some hot spots down to a level that can be maintained year round by a core team of Trust volunteers. 

“Everyone is welcome, and it really is a great way to meet new people and find out about the history of the local area,” says the Trust’s secretary, Kristen Bracey. 

“Quarantine Island/Kamau Taurua is a special place, where you can slow down, find inner peace, and enjoy its beautiful views.”

“I know from my own experience that you get a lot out of working alongside others on projects like this to restore biodiversity”, Kristen says.

A grant from the QEII Community Weedbusters Project towards transport costs to get volunteers across the harbour from Dunedin will remove one barrier to more people helping out. 

Weedbusters national coordinator Carolyn Lewis, says the restoration goals and community focus of the Quarantine Island/Kamau Taurua Community Trust proposal made it an ideal project to support.

“The Trust volunteers are not only helping to knock back weeds and enhance the ecological values of Quarantine Island/Kamau Taurua, they are also reaching out to different sectors of the community to encourage their connection with this unique place and to share in its care,” she says.

People wanting volunteer for working bees on the island can email or or call the keeper on 03 478 0874 to find out how to get involved.

The Quarantine Island/Kamau Taurua weedbusting project is one of a number of initiatives being supported through the QEII Community Weedbusting Project, which is funded under the DOC Community Fund. 


More information

Quarantine Island/Kamau Taurua  (QT/KT) sits in the heart of the Otago Harbour, a remnant of an ancient Dunedin volcano. It covers an area of 15 hectares, and is a publicly accessible recreation reserve.

In pre-European times it was used by southern Māori as a place to camp while collecting kaimoana. From 1863 to 1924, it functioned as the Otago Quarantine Station, and was the first place ashore for many thousands of settlers who suffered with infectious diseases upon their arrival in New Zealand. It was used as a military hospital during World War One.

There are a number of buildings on the islands and a small cemetery that stand as a reminder of these times. With the help of volunteers, restoration work is underway to restore these heritage sites. For 50 years at least, volunteers have also helped with reforestation and replanting programmes there.

The Quarantine Island/Kamau Taurua Community (Incorporated) (formerly the St Martin Island Community), is a group of dedicated volunteers who manage the island recreation reserve jointly with the Department of Conservation.

Spokesperson: Carolyn Lewis/Weedbusters co-ordinator