Over the past couple of decades Wellingtonians have invested heavily in our wildlife hotspots – with both money and sweat. We now have world-leading reminders of what our country should be like. All those who have been involved can be justly proud of the conservation gains those projects have made.
But we are not making the most of these wildlife hotspots. Outside of these sanctuaries (like Zealandia, Otari-Wilton Bush. Oruaiti Reserve and Khandallah Park), our native wildlife is being killed by predators or lack of food, and their numbers are diminished. By providing a safe haven in our own back yards we can allow our native birds to spread right across Wellington. This is what it means to “Enhance the halo”.
Gareth is asking households all over Wellington to sign up as Halo Households and transform their own backyards into safe havens for native creatures. “We have tuis in our backyards, but this is just the start of the halo,” says Morgan. “Until we have saddlebacks, stitchbirds, bellbirds there as well, we can’t claim to have made Wellington the natural capital where the dawn chorus has returned.”
The website halo.org.nz will provide you with simple steps to begin transforming your home and contributing to the halo. Once registered, Halo Households will get access to specialist advice from experts like Victoria University on things like killing pests, and what plants to put in their garden to attract native birds. They will also be able to enter competitions and get a complimentary Halo Household welcome pack, including a Halo Household sticker to display their credentials.
The website also provides inspirational stories about ‘Halo Heroes’ – people and groups working to improve conservation in Wellington. People can also find out what projects are happening near them, and get involved. Gareth points out that “community groups and outfits like Greater Wellington Regional Council have been doing great work to reduce predators like possums on public land. We already have a possum free Miramar Peninsula. All that is missing is for members of the public to step up and act in their own garden. With enough households getting stuck in, native birds will thrive in the Capital, and you could have your very own Zealandia in your backyard.”
Enhancing the Halo is also sponsoring the Wellington International Ukelele Orchestra concert on the 25th of July at the Town Hall.