Swede leads Miramar conservation
June 28, 2018
A Swede with a lifelong love of plants and animals is on a mission to make Miramar Peninsula pest-free in five years.
Joakim Liman is the brains behind Te Motu Kairangi, a volunteer group that sets traps, plants natives, and educates locals on good practice.
Te Motu Kairangi translates to precious island, referring to the fact that Miramar was an island prior to the Haowhenua earthquake, about 1460.
Liman said the name was still relevant because it was the first name for the peninsula, which Te Motu Kairangi still treated as an island.
Te Motu Kairangi mostly work on restoring native flora at the moment, Liman said, as native animals often wouldn’t survive if they were reintroduced before native plant species are there.
Birds, like kereru and karearea, were coming back slowly, and as predators are removed, they would begin to focus on reinstating animals, as opposed to just plant restoration. As Liman said, “Plant it, and they will come”.
He hoped the peninsula would be predator free by 2023, a goal so ambitious that not even predator free Miramar strived for it.
The core group regularly weed in the bush area of Miramar, plant natives, and trap predators. This core currently has 16 members, a fluctuating number as people’s free time changes.
There is also an email list of about 150, who take part in group clean ups and trap setting.
He said Miramar locals were very supportive, and often supported complementary groups, like Predator Free Miramar, as well as Te Motu Kairangi.
Wellington City Council had been very supportive, he said, by planting, and helping to remove hard to reach weeds.
Weta Digital helped the group buy equipment for planting, such as spades and gloves, and promotional and educational material to share around Miramar, including their Good Neighbourhood guide.
One project run through Te Motu Kairangi is Guardians of the Forest, where he gets local schoolchildren playing games like finding introduced mammalian predators or weeds.
The name Guardians of the Forest was chosen for its action movie quality as an homage to Weta’s support.
Liman’s passion for conservation, has been with him since he was a child in Norrköping.
“[I] always liked animals and plants, even when I was a kid, [I] was actually doing conservation without knowing by building wetlands and ponds in the backyard to attract frogs.”
He went to university at Sweden’s Natural Research Programme, which teaches environmental sciences on topics as diverse as conservation, genetics, breeding, wildlife, and park work.
However, he didn’t know much about New Zealand’s indigenous wildlife until he started Te Motu Kairangi at the end of 2010, around a year after he moved to New Zealand.