Weedbusters at Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands have been shocked by the action of thieves, who stole much of their essential equipment during a volunteer clearing effort on the Kororipo Pa Track last week.
The band of local and international volunteers had turned out to help tackle the weed problem in the Kerikeri Basin.
Weedbuster coordinator and Department of Conservation spokesman, Dan O’Halloran says thieves stole about $1300 worth of Weedbusting equipment on Thursday as volunteers were working to clear the Kororipo Track of environmental damaging weeds including gorse and pampas.
The stolen equipment included a “Weedbusters at Work” sign, and a large blue lockable box containing four workbags each containing a pruning saw, secateurs and a bottle of Vigilant. Also taken were three spare new pruning saws, three spare saw blades, a file, a sharpening stone, and a 20ltr water container for hand washing.
The equipment was left at the start of the track directly opposite the Stone Store, next to the Landing restaurant and the Wishing Well. The volunteers were working along the track three to four hundred metres away from the equipment when the theft took place.
Mr O’Halloran says the volunteers’ weedbusting efforts have been terrific for the Kerikeri region, and he doesn’t mince words when he describes the thieves. “Lowlifes,” he says.
“The volunteer effort has begun only recently, but it is already starting to make a considerable difference to the public’s enjoyment of the basin area. The volunteers include locals and also internationals sponsored under a Department of Conservation Weedbusters scheme. They generously give their time and effort to improve the area, and it is very sad to see them targeted in this way. Money will now need to be spent replacing the stolen gear that could have gone to other weed projects in the Bay of Islands.”
Mr O’Halloran says the volunteer work is being carried out under the national Weedbusters banner.
“The volunteer effort on the Kororipo Pa track is a painstaking one, with volunteers carrying out the work by hand, using secateurs and pruning saws,” he says.
Weedbusters is a national multi-agency group, working to raise weed awareness in New Zealand communities and getting more people in the public arena involved in weeds issue, Mr O’Halloran says.
Mr O’Halloran says there have been a number of thefts around region in the last fortnight, mostly targeting tourists vehicles at Rainbow Falls (also in Kerikeri), Waitangi and Puketi Forest.
Anyone with information about the thefts can contact local police, the Department of Conservation or the Northland Regional Council. Mr O’Halloran can also be contacted on (09) 4074861.