Birdsong Back at Purewa Cemetery

Sep 15, 2020

Birdsong is returning to Purewa Cemetery thanks to a joint initiative with the Eastern Bays Birdsong Project.

The community-based volunteer group has provided traps and platforms to help Purewa control the possum population, which has been increasing and is largely responsible for declining bird numbers.

Purewa Assistant Manager Chris Martinsays the cemetery has always had a good bird population but the traps are important in attracting tuis, fantails, wax eyes, grey warbler and even wood pigeons back to the bush and trees.

“We’re very aware that as well as being a cemetery, Purewa is also a beautiful public park where people can enjoy walking and hearing our native birds. Providing the best possible environment for trees, bush and birds is part of our management plan which we are strongly committed to,” he says.

As part of the cemetery grounds plan, a specialist arborist company checks and maintains the health and safety of all 1200 significant trees and plots their positions on a map for easy reference. A combination of native and exotic trees such as Pohutukawa, Oaks, Puriri and large Cabbage trees are planted throughout the 20-hectare (50 acre) site. As well as Possums, Purewa also has a rat trapping programme which is well established.

Jillana Robertson, Project Manager for the Eastern Bays Songbird Project, says the group is delighted to work with Purewa on this very important environmental pest eradication plan.

“Purewa is on our border so it’s vital that we help them eradicate pests coming from their area into ours. Their efforts benefit the birdsong project, especially at this time of year when there are a lot of new chicks born and possums are at their hungriest coming out of winter – it’s a critical time to protect birds and their new-born,” she says.

In addition to the birds found in Purewa, the group also wants to see more native birds such as Red Crowned Kakariki and bell birds which fly across to Auckland from Hauraki Gulf islands.

The Eastern Bays Songbird Project started in 2017 and is funded by the Orakei Local Board of the Auckland Council and some local businesses, primarily in the suburbs of Orakei, Mission Bay, Kohimarama, Glendowie and St Heliers.

The Meadowbank & St Johns Residents Association is also supporting pest eradication efforts in the local area through its own Songbird Project that provides rat traps for residential properties. Barry Stewart, the Association Chair, says their project has been running for almost three years and they currently have around 150 traps placed in the community. Anyone interested should contact them at

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