By Victoria Triegaardt, Public Affairs Intern, U.S. Embassy, Wellington.
U.S. Embassy Staff & Friends Visit Kapiti Island to Take Part in the Unveiling Of New Information Panels.
Two weeks back was National Park Week in the U.S. and in celebration the U.S. Embassy joined the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) to unveil new signs on Kapiti Island nature reserve, which the U.S. embassy had helped contribute towards. They were joined by members of Ngāti Toa and Te Atiawa ki Whakarongotai, local iwis, as well as four members of the Wellington Branch of the U.S. Embassy Youth Council.
The visit and Embassy support for the interpretive panels were part of a year long campaign, in partnership with DOC, to celebrate the Centenary of the American National Parks Service by recognizing the dedicated conservation professionals in New Zealand and America that work tirelessly to welcome and inform visitors, and preserve our diverse cultural and natural heritage.
Kapiti Island is situated twenty minutes away from the mainland, but before the group could begin their boat ride over, there were some crucial items to go over first. Kapiti Island is pest free so it has strict quarantine rules to protect the birds and plants on the Island. Once all the shoes had been washed and the bags checked for animals, insects and seeds everyone was ready to go.
Upon arriving on the shore DOC gave the group information about the different conservation efforts being made on the Island. The group then made their way up the Whare, stopping along the way to read the new information panels which detail the history and significance of Kapiti Island. At each panel a karakia Maori blessing was performed.
Afterwards the group walked up to the hihi (Stichbird) feeding station, which is part of the Department of Conservation’s Stichbird Recovery Plan to increase the number of Stichbirds. The event was a great opportunity to learn more about New Zealand’s diverse natural environment and native fauna.
The visit ended at the big house where author Queenie Rikihana shared stories from her book Manawa Hine: Women who swam against the tide. These inspiring tales of women on Kapiti Island showcased the rich history of the island.
The visit was a great opportunity for the Youth Council to meet Embassy employees and see some of the Embassy’s work in action.