Climate change is here, and the island’s flora and fauna seem to know it. Local residents are reporting ducklings hatching in autumn, fruit ripening off-season and sometimes trees not fruiting at all.
Long-time Waiheke environmentalist Ivan Kitson, who runs Waiheke Native Plants, says it’s now harder to know what plants will grow and fruit at certain times of the year.
“Things can be all over the place, and that’s if they [the trees] fruit. There’s no consistency anymore,” he says.
He also believes native toetoe (Austroderia fulvida) have been affected by climate change and rising sea levels in the island’s low-lying areas and estuaries.
“I found the toetoe plant in four different places in the early years, back in the 1980s and ’90s, and when I went back [recently] I couldn’t see it anymore because the water was now salty,” says Ivan.
“The site at Te Matuku Bay was in a small freshwater wetland just above where it opened out to the salt marsh and mangroves of the Te Matuku marine reserve. Revisiting the site recently, the salt marsh has risen up into the area that was previously freshwater and the toetoe was unable to survive.” • Silvia Massa
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