Rakino fish-counting project to date..

A citizen science project funded by the Waiheke Local Board.

On Labour Weekend of 2022 Experiencing Marine Reserves held a workshop on Rakino Island, the purpose being to train the snorkeling participants on timed swim methodology in order to collect rocky reef species abundance and diversity data, to better understand the state of Rakino’s rocky reefs. Ten Rakino-ites attended, and EMR also brought ten of their volunteers over for training.

Rakino snorkelers

The funding for this was provided by the Waiheke Local Board, and Waiheke Resources Trust generously umbrella-ed our grant application for free, in the interests of encouraging an ongoing relationship with the Rakino community. https://wrt.org.nz/
We’re very grateful for this. We were also able to purchase an underwater camera and some dive slates with the funding.

We spent the morning in the Hall learning to identify the rocky reef dwelling species we were likely to see around the Rakino coastline, and schooling up on health and safety. Both of these things are harder than they sound!

Seaweeds in Maori Garden Bay

After a shared lunch the intrepid snorkelers donned their wet-suits and headed for the Sandy bay transects EMR trainer Sophie had plotted out earlier. One group headed around the rocks in the direction of Maori Garden Bay, and the other headed out towards the variously named island in Sandy Bay. I stayed on the beach with the weighty responsibility of counting snorkelers in and out of the water, and generally keeping an watchful eye.

Parore in kelp

It was a chilly October day and a couple of snorkelers sensibly heeded the health and safety instructions and headed back to relative comfort of shore when they felt out of their depth. The team that headed in the direction of MGB had a more successful snorkel so we have abandoned the transect around the back of the Sandy Bay island in favour of a couple of less challenging yet more fruitful transects.

Happy snapper

Simon has since constructed a species identifying chart, and a form for participating snorkelers to record their fish counts on. https://www.rakino.org.nz/fish-count/
The hope is that over time we’ll accrue enough data that it can be mapped to show trends. Unfortunately this year didn’t start brilliantly weather-wise, so it’s not been easy to coordinate snorkelers, but we have a chat group established on FB messenger, and we may get one more fish count in before winter, at which point we’ll resume again in November. We’ve tried to get one fish count in per month. It requires ongoing practice to get the methodology right, and hopefully next season the weather will be calmer and the water less turbid.

Three young snapper in the kelp
Rocky reef fish habitat

I’ve also since learned to snorkel and identify the commonplace fish species so I can participate too, though I’m still learning how to wrangle the underwater camera!

The project is intended to be ongoing, and driven by volunteers. If anyone who couldn’t attend the workshop is keen to participate in future please let us know.

Labour Weekend Market Day

We haven’t had a market on Rakino for a few years, so a few enthusiastic people have decided to have a crack at reinstating it on the Rakino events calendar.
It’s going to happen this year on October 23rd, 1pm till 3-ish, down at the Hall, after the RRA meeting. There will be a $10 a market table koha to be donated to the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Trust.

If you have bits and bobs to sell, come on down, and if you have some cash burning a hole in your pocket, definitely come on down. Come on down regardless.
There will be a sausage sizzle, so bring some gold coins for that, and Jennie Cruse will be busking, so bring some gold coins for her.
There will be t-shirts, tote-bags, cool pottery mugs, preserves, pearls, and much more. The art rooms will be open also, for painting ceramics, and jewels. Cash transfers are available.
If you need more info, email me, lisa@lisawest.co.nz

We look forward to seeing your lovely faces on Sunday. 🙂

Tiny Museum reviewed

My documentation of the event could have been better, but I was a tad flustered as I was still running around at 5pm trying to assign numbers to the art work for sale. Thankfully Holly was keeping calm like a professional.

Dylan and Simon were happy to pose for paparazzi shots, but sadly I missed the opportunity to take any photos of the throng. I was too busy debating about how to play sea shanties successfully through the speaker to pay proper attention.
I can confirm the ladies of the Backhouse-Smith household were the height of glamour, and I’m dismayed at my failure to document their fabulosity. 🙁

Posing for blurry paparazzi shots whilst obscuring Katie Blundell’s fabulous artwork.
A Michelangelo moment

There was a brief flurry of consternation as Billie the Dog opportunistically made off with McCann family heirloom ‘shark-stick’, but the treasure was quickly retrieved, and the saliva removed. As Josh remarked drily “well technically, it is a stick”. I’ve made similar faux pas in galleries myself, so don’t wish to cast aspersions at Billie. Scuba Steve was also a very popular exhibit, as were Dylan’s beach fossicked skulls. A certain wall-mounted viciously fanged skull kept the punters guessing, and many were surprised to discover it was a feral cat.

‘Shark stick’ in lower center left of image.

The Tiny Museum in situ
Skulls, sponges, and viewing devices.

Many thanks to everyone who came to the opening event, visited the Tiny Museum, brought along delicious snacks, and generously lent their treasures, display units, trees, and artwork over the Easter period. The weather was a little unkind, but the turn out was pretty good regardless. I was particularly happy to see how many Rakino kids turned up with their beautiful artwork to stick to the undersea background!

Art from Rakino Kids!

The purpose of the Tiny Museum portion of the Easter art show was to draw attention to marine and terrestrial environment of Rakino, to celebrate our 20 years predator-free status, but also to make us think about where we might go from here. The displays of gecko & skink posters will remain for now, as will the posters of the photographs taken of the Woody Bay & Otata snorkel trips. There are QR codes next to some items, and if you scan them with a code reader you can find out more about them. There is also plenty of artwork still available. Money was raised for the Westpac Helicopter thanks to Harriet’s generosity, and there is still potentially more money to be raised thanks to a further donation of an art work by Anne McCabe, courtesy of Mark & Julianne.

Work from Julianne Taylor, Christine Rose, Albie McCabe, and Carolyn MacKenzie.

A series of unframed prints from Julianne Taylor.
Harriet and Adrian

Carolyn MacKenzie’s lovely paintings.

Thanks All, and see you next time.

The Tiny Museum @ ORCA

Easter Art Show on Rakino Island

This Easter we have a theme for the Art Show on account of the fact it’s 20 years since Rakino became pest free. In addition to the usual great art available to purchase we are setting up photo displays about marine and terrestrial conservation on Rakino. There will be glorious gecko, and sublime seascapes.

We have an area we are styling as the ‘Tiny Museum’, an open cabinet of curiosities containing beach combed treasures and objet. We have a large wall dedicated to displaying sea critters created by ‘kino kids, so I’m looking forward to receiving lots of marine flora and fauna to attach to our undersea background.

Below are a few tasters of some of the work on show; more images to come. 🙂

Detail from screenprint ‘Too good to be true’ by Katie Blundell

Bellbird by Carolyn MacKenzie

inter-tidal brooches by Lisa West

Crab claw pendants in wood by Tania Patterson

How Freakin’ Good Was THAT Rakino???

I’m arrogantly confident I’m speaking for all who turned out when I say that JT & Agnostics with Holly Shepheard was another ripper of an island event.

The pre-gig outdoor lounge with likely lads.

JT is bass player John Thomson, and the Agnostics are a confection of Maciek Hrybowicz on guitar, Bill Forrest on saxophone, and Freddie Limbert on drums, all accomplished musicians from Waikato.

Holly Shepheard guested on vocals, and we were also treated to a set featuring Massey Ormsby as guest vocalist, with the addition of Rakino’s Tom Donaldson on saxophone.

The first set seduced the audience in gently with a set of blues originals by John, followed up by a second set in which Holly exercised her impressive pipes to the approval of the enraptured crowd.

Holly exercising her impressive pipes.
Guilty, as always…

Rakino knows how to turn on a hooley, so it wasn’t long till the carefully placed chairs were thrust back against the walls and the the hedonism started in earnest, led in large part by Mr. Garth M. Broadhead who knows how to cut a mean rug. He spun and dipped his dancing partners with aplomb, and kept the admiring audience in thrall.

Mr Garth M. Broadhead rug-cutting.

The rest of us ponied and chicken-scratched, and Billie the Dog participated in some horizontal dance moves later in the evening. Even the committed outdoor loungers and boozers were enticed inside for a bacchanalian blues boogie.

Bacchanalian Blues Boogie.

My abiding memory of the third set was of the band with Massey at the helm doing a beaut version of ‘Wild West End’, making Dire Straits sound soulful and cool… again. 🙂

Tom on sax! Massey to the right on vocals!

Our much-loved Hall juts precariously and spectacularly above the tide, and as the last set was ending I glanced out the open window and to my discomfort spotted the sea churning in, the inundating waves of the very high tides of recent days. I noticed the sea was at wharf height and the waves had created visible puddles as we hefted the couches back indoors post-gig.
The after parties continued for those with fortitude or limited sense of self preservation, and I had to crawl Hulk-wards at 3.30am because I’m a lightweight.
Blues and sybaritism were the winners on the day.

Sybaritism winning.

Get thee to the AGM!

(or, We Need to Talk About Island Democracy)

The Anarchist Amanuensis will not be attending the AGM of the RRA this lovely sunny Sunday morning. Apologies in advance to anyone who might miss my hot take on the meeting, but I lost heart somewhat after the Easter 2021 meeting in which the majority of members who were ineligible to vote by dint of not having paid their subs voted to be allowed to vote. It was never made clear exactly who was eligible to vote; I know I was, as I had paid my subs unbidden, but these are simply minor details that mean nothing, unless you are concerned about adherence to the constitution of the incorporated society.

I also lost heart when I realised the ‘minutes’ of the Labour Weekend meeting of 2020 were not written up till March 27 of 2021, a matter of days before the Easter 2021 meeting. I guess this is because the only person taking minutes in 2020 was me. I guess that also means someone had to bodge together minutes from the agenda of the 2020 AGM, and my Anarchist Amanuensis ‘minutes’. This may seem inconsequential, but only if you are unconcerned about adherence to the constitution of the incorporated society.

This meeting a motion is to be passed by Chairman Clews with regard to changing the constitution. We are not advised what the motion is. The constitution says this:

ALTERATION OF RULES The Society may make, alter, amend or add to any of the rules at any Annual, Special or Ordinary Meeting of the Society after ten working days’ notice of intention so to do shall have been given to members.

This is awkward, because we were only advised of the agenda on January 28th.
It doesn’t really matter though, unless you are concerned about adherence to the constitution of the incorporated society.

You’ll get to vote for for new committee members at this meeting. The constitution says this:

Nominations in writing for the election of officers, signed by the nominee and his/her proposer, shall be in the hands of the Secretary in sufficient time to allow voting papers with the names of all nominees theron, (sic) to be in the hands of the voting members at least fourteen (14) clear days before the holding of the Annual General Meeting.

This is mildly inconvenient, given the voting forms were only sent out as an attachment on January 27. Don’t fret; it’s only significant if you are concerned about adherence to the constitution of the incorporated society.

At any rate, I wish you all a lovely meeting, and I hope you’ve paid your subs. It’s my fervent wish that some fresh enthusiasm is injected into the committee to take on the not inconsiderable challenges currently facing Rakino; our community amenities, our fire resilience, and our lack of representation on the Waiheke Local Board. Some fresh faces across the board are desperately needed.

Over and out,
Anarchist Amanuensis.

RRA Election time?

Is it time to review the function and performance of the RRA (Rakino Rate Payers Association)?

The objectives of the Association are set out in its Constitution.

At the Annual General Meeting candidates either volunteer or are persuaded to join the committee sometime later. There is no election process as is defined. Elected officers are those who volunteer for that role. Not much happens. There’s little or no communication with the membership. The Association doesn’t enjoy community support and more importantly respect. All fairly typical characteristics of any volunteer organization. Well-meaning. Volunteers doing their best, but is their best good enough?

In recent times things have been organized independent of the Association. We have enjoyed concerts at the Hall, the Nursery and at the Pizzeria. Yoga classes, art, weaving courses are all well received and supported. The community can make things happen if it has the will. Who needs the Association?

It does seem that decentralization will continue which questions the relevance of the Association and especially as it has seldom taken a lead or achieved much. The hall is but one example. Our emergency response capability is being withdrawn. The Association fiddles whilst Rakino potentially burns.

The Association is nevertheless essential as the body that represents us when dealing with say the Council. Council will only deal with the one voice. The problem with that one voice is that the committee is not democratically elected, doesn’t have a mandate on any position it takes, is seldom well informed and invariably reflects the opinion of the committee or some on it.

We have allowed this situation to occur. We don’t follow the prescribed process for the election of a committee and a Chair. We don’t give them a brief, a blue print for what we want for the Island, where we are going and how we want to get there. If we don’t manage change, it will happen regardless.

I believe the function of the Association should be three-fold;

  1. To achieve representation on the Waiheke Community Board.
  2. To represent the community with key stake holders and deploy expertise within the community for specific negotiations.
  3. To develop a road map which reflects the communities needs and aspirations, coordinate a blue print and invite people to take on specific function, unhindered. Performance is measured by success.

The Hall is a prime example as to why there must be change.

After years of talk, Stephen Thomas came up with a scheme to move and redevelop the existing building which he costed and presented to the community both on and off the Island. His concept was well received and he was congratulated on his initiative. We were to be canvassed for our thoughts. A no brainer really. Unfortunately, covid aside, nothing has happened. More of the same and for the same reasons.

We were told at the last AGM that Council preferred a new build on which premise a vote was taken to do away with the old and bring in the new. A concept by the Association was presented with a few boxes and improved vehicular access. It has since transpired that Council did not express that preference yet a new design is being developed after Stephen Thomas presented his vision and the ink had almost dried. Stephen had broad approval for his concept and has the skill set, drive and contacts to make things happen. Local trades, professionals and merchants offered their support. Meetings brimmed with enthusiasm and suggestions as to how it could happen and how individuals could contribute.

Stephen should be given the job to resolve the hall fiasco once and for all. He has the qualifications to present a concept and costings to the Waiheke Board, get approval from the Board, facilitate funding and consents, negotiate with Auckland Transport as regards transportation issues and bring the community together to build with fund raising if necessary. No one else on the committee has those skills and frankly they have had decades to demonstrate their capabilities. A significant job for a lone individual but Stephen is a team player and can call upon expertise within the community to finally resolve something which has been on the drawing board for decades.

No more delays awaiting the formation of a committee, no more waffle and grandstanding. Responsibility delegated to someone who know what they’re doing. Job done.

What else does the community need? Here’s but a few thoughts to make my point.


Lisa and Holly have shown to have the drive and passion to organize fantastic events with fantastic artists. They should be given carte blanche responsibility with an allocation of funds from the Association. The community should underwrite the associated costs and be willing to pay to participate rather than stand on the fringes and observe.

Sense of community

Why not our own flag, an Island logo, a letterhead, some merchandise that sets us apart. Let’s appoint someone with those skills, which may also include a programmer so that we can vote electronically on whatever design we prefer. The same program could be utilized at the AGM and at other significant decision times.

Other thoughts are; fruit trees along the berms, utilization of the land at the top of the Island for sporting events, a website which brings together all the other sites under the one umbrella, resolution of the mooring travesty, a welcoming committee for new owners, an information centre for visitors.

The possibilities are endless. Someone with a special interest or skill takes responsibility for a specific function after being provided with a broad outline of what the community wants.
Once again, answerable to us, not the committee which in time becomes largely redundant much as it is now but is no longer permitted to stymie innovative thinking or enthusiasm.

Thoughtful comment would be appreciated. The next AGM is over Labour weekend. Change is necessary now. I believe we need fresh blood on the Association. There are many talented impassioned people out there to make a real difference. I believe that needs to begin at the top.

A resident’s observations on our Hall complex.

My feedback for community hall, library, art room, mail room, emergency response storage, ferry terminal facilities.

I have carefully tried to list all of the uses of the island’s only community structure as it is important to keep all of these in mind while trying to decide how to move forward.

Moving forward is a key consideration, it would be a true shame to see the loss of any amenities  as amenities are a rare commodity on our beautiful Motu. I am fortunate enough to have made this island my home and so am in a position to see how, when and why these buildings are used. I certainly don’t deserve more of a vote than any other landowner but do have better perspective than most and, with all due humility, expect to be listened to.

My strong feeling is that the existing, historic, structure needs to be preserved in some manner. While a new build may have advantages in terms of a reduction in short term maintenance requirements it (to my mind) will not provide the same facilities as does the current structure. I in no way trust that Auckland council will consider an increase in size or utility of the building(s). I am trying to remain logical about the situation but need to briefly say I can’t see how any new building would hope to have the same warmth and heart.

My preferred option would be to remove the hall/kitchen section and move it, raised .5 metres to secure it against surge tides, to the area seaward of the existing toilets. The jutting section of the art facility could then be mounted on poles and a small 1.2 metre concrete wall built on the Southern edge to further protect all structures. This would also provide a safe waiting area for humans and animals. The existing parking beside the bins would be designated pick up and drop off only thus becoming a safe turning area for vehicles.

As a final note I hope all due efforts have been made to consider the non internet savvy in our community. Of course there are limits to any form of communication but all must be consulted on decisions that affect all. Aside from the natural beauty it is the personalities of us all that make the island a special place.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Josh McCann

My view on the hall

As you’ll know, the position of the hall is something of a problem, as king tides can cause inundation and damage. Recent goings on in the RRA have prompted me to have a think about what should happen to the hall, I poked around council reports, costings, and the possible solutions. It looks like boiling down to:

Two Options
There seem to be only two solutions on the table, demolish the hall and do a new build, as proposed by the RRA committee or the Lift and Shift option, as recommended in the two local board reports.

Proposed move and lift
Lift & Shift the Hall

Demolish and build new

My preferred option is for a lift and shift, for the following reasons:

A new build will not be fit for purpose
Discussion with community members, along with the results of a survey about what people want and value from facilities showed that a gallery, art space, and, library, and music venue are core requirements rather than peripheral.

Although square meterage wasn’t discussed in the meeting, it was mentioned that library, artists studio space, and gallery would no longer exist.

A hall with capacity for 40 or so people negates its use as a music venue, so effectively, the new build proposal fails to meet almost all of the community’s requirements.

History and Character
While I’m not a diehard old building preserver, the existing structure does have a quirky presence and a long history in the gulf, having been originally constructed as WWII army barracks on Motuihe Island.

With a budget of $300,000, a new building is unlikely to be an aesthetic and architectural marvel.

It would be less wasteful and, I think, more in line with the values of the island to re-use rather than trash and rebuild. The local board report suggests the hall is basically sound, and good for another 30 – 50 years.