June bi-monthly hui

On 14 June, an enthusiastic group of whānau attend our bi-monthly hui at Tauranga Boys’ College. Anna Were welcomed our guest speaker Guus Knopers from K9 Detection Services. Guus has lived in New Zealand for 29 years, where he started work as a regional council conservation employee.

Guus came along to tell us about his job and to give us an insight into dog detection work and what it entails. Amongst other organisations, the business contracts to the Department of Conservation, Internal Affairs, The New Zealand Police and Army.

They currently have 22 dogs in training and it takes between 28 weeks and two years to train a detection dog. The hardest area to train the dogs in is plant detection. They can be trained to detect using sight but senses detection is the most effective. The dogs can detect explosives, endangered species, invasive species, crime evidence, fire accelerant, currency, drugs, firearms, mobile phones, plants, animals, produce, agriculture, bugs, and wildlife etc. Much of their work is at airports, ports, mail centres, and places where people enter and exit the country.

Gus brought two of his detection dogs along and he demonstrated how the dogs detect pests. Our bags were placed on the ground and two of the bags were planted with pests – it was fascinating watching them quickly detect their targets.

New Zealand was the first country to use dogs for conservation detection. Detection dogs have been used to monitor kiwi, and pāteke in Northland. They have successfully been used to protect the Hauraki Gulf Islands from introduced pests. The biggest conservation risks at present are argentine ants and rainbow skinks.

It was sad to hear that the Government have cut funding so much so, that handlers have to fund detection jobs entirely from their own funds and in their own time, which is hard to understand in what is supposed to be a ‘clean and green country.’

There are 80 conservation dogs in New Zealand, with 55 working in the area of protected species and 25 working to find pests. New Zealand has supplied dogs to Japan, Fiji, Tahiti, New Caledonia and Australia, and as a country we are internationally recognised as a leader in pest eradication programmes.

It was a fantastic insight into the work of a drug detection dog and their handlers. At the end of his kōrero, Anna thanked Guus for his interesting and insightful presentation.

From left, guest speaker, Guus Knopers, Fin Watson Kamo and Anna Were at the June bi-monthly hui.

From left, guest speaker, Guus Knopers, Fin Watson Kamo and
Anna Were at the June bi-monthly hui.

Upcoming bi-monthly hui

Our next bi-monthly hui will be held on Sunday 16 August, 1pm at Tauranga Boys’ College wharenui – see you all there.