Tony Bateup has spent over a decade showing visitors to Golden Bay the very best of the region. Together with his wife Lisa, they run Golden Bay Kayaks and are well known figures in the local community. Having a deep love for the area, Tony didn’t hesitate to accept the community liaison role for the Onetahua Restoration Project.
Tony has been busy connecting with residents and land owners in the area, introducing them to the project and garnering their support.
‘Trust and honesty are integral to the success of this project’, he says. ‘Particularly amongst landowners, who want to know who’s coming on to their property and for what purpose. We’d like to see our trappers and landowners build relationships based on trust and good faith’, says Tony. ‘Landowners will know who to expect, when to expect them and be confident that our trappers are on their land for just one reason... to trap pests! We are building mutual respect, around a common purpose of doing what’s right for the region’, says Tony.
He estimates that he is currently in talks with around 120 individuals.
‘It’s a slower process than I thought it would be’, he says, spending an average of two to three hours with each contact. ‘There was a little bit of initial confusion with another predator eradication project in the region, so there was definitely some clarification required’, he says. Tony is thorough in his consultations. He introduces the project, describes what it entails and what it will look like going forward, framing his approach around three main questions:
‘Obviously the last point is not settled yet, and the feasibility study from Ahikā will shed some light on how we go about that, but in the mean time, I am equipping residents with all the information we have now.’ Tony expects to have completed this first round of talks by Christmastime. ‘Once we have decided on our methods, I’ll be conducting another round of consultations, focussing on those affected, and seeking their thoughts.
So how is it going? ‘Really well’, he says. ‘There’s a lot of support for the project and I’ve been blown away at just how many people are already trapping or using bait stations on their own properties. That shows that people genuinely care and that we are all on the same page - we are all fully aware of how special this place is and how we all need to protect it.’
Tony is really excited about the prospect of reintroducing native birds to the area, but he’s also enjoying meeting new people and reconnecting with old friends from long ago. He hasn’t run into any old girlfriends yet, but if he does, he says he’ll let us know.