Who speaks for the birds and the trees as we take over their habitat

Praneeta Mahajan

Praneeta Mahajan

Hamilton, 31 October 2022

Shaw Bird Park, Hamilton

Shaw’s Bird Park is 7 hectares of beautifully paved bird habitat that is home to over 500 native and 3000 introduced trees and multiple varieties of birds.

Margaret and Murray Shaw brought this property 30 years ago when it was a gully full of blackberry and gorse. Now it is a wonderful breeding ground for birds. They breed Mandarin, Carolina and Grey Teal ducks.

‘Rocket’ the Macaw, Guide for our tour

A quick tour of Shaw’s Bird Park

They have rescued native birds that they rehabilitate, peacocks, ducks and many native animals living in the park that include the kereru, tui, the Dabchick, long fin as well as shortfin eels. A special feature is several native moreporks, known for their haunting, melancholic call. This sound gives it the Māori name ‘Ruru‘.

The native birds are cared for, and released back to the wild or provided with a ‘forever home’ to those that would not survive in the wild.

The bird park provides 2 km of footpaths, with several ponds, quiet green areas, some fish and lots of wonderful experiences.

Indian Newslink visited Shaw’s Bird Park and the first visual we encountered was a bunch of pre-schoolers, enjoying personal encounters with rabbits, guinea pigs, and ‘Rocket’ the Macaw, who is also the showrunner for the park (or so he feels) entertaining visitors by obliging for some pictures with them. We saw volunteers and employees, who have been working for the Shaw Bird park for many years, tending to the grass, clearing up the foliage, feeding the birds and interacting with the visitors in true community spirit.

We were even greeted by a peacock in the children’s play area, a variety of birds, ducks, swans, some goldfish in the ponds and several ducklings all around.

 

Views of Construction from the Bird Park

A stark contrast of life

While the details and our visit were picture-perfect, there is also a harsh reality that hits you as hard as the connection with nature.

There is massive construction taking place right next to the park, giving visitors a stark reminder of what our definition of progress is.

It is this very question that Murray Shaw, the owner of Shaw’s Bird park also wants to ask. In a candid conversation with Indian Newslink, Mr Shaw said that he has engaged with many people and has more than 5000 petitions signed by people who feel passionately about the urgent need to save this habitat for our future generations.

Murray Shaw and his wife Margaret have been fighting to save their habitat from being taken away from them, the community and most importantly, from the birds that call it home.

The matter is already under litigation and the Shaw family is not ready to give up without exploring all possible ways to save the Bird park.

Why is this crucial

Hamilton City Council has planned to put the East-West Road straight through the property. To build the road, the wetlands will be filled, trees cut down and bird habitats destroyed. Two bridges proposed on  neighbouring properties will need to span the gullies at a tremendous cost. But other options are less invasive and cheaper. The Park does not need to be destroyed.

Murray Shaw asks a question he has repeatedly sought an answer to. He says “Why doesn’t the Council widen Peacockes Road and State Highway 3, thus saving Millions of dollars to the ratepayers? Council’s proposed plan would cost $42 Million for a viaduct, and together with the east-west road a minimum of $170 Million for starters, when, in my opinion,  the road is not even needed in the first place.”

Murray Shaw shows the area in question

Mr Shaw says that the Council’s destructive plan would ultimately force the Bird Park to close, along with all the birds and animals having to go, destroy many trees and leave the native bats as well as the fresh inhabitants unprotected.

Shaw’s Bird Park is a wonderful asset for the community and the environment. Entry to the Park is free. Over the years, countless thousands of families and children have enjoyed what it has to offer and built memories here. The environment has thrived. The Park will be lost if the Road goes through.

“Our petition asks that Hamilton City Council reconsider the alignment of the East/West Road through the Park, and finds one that will not destroy it,” says Mr Shaw.

Ruru encounter for visitors

A quick visit to this beautiful nature reserve makes one think of a few obvious questions- would it not have been better to integrate Bird Park and offer it as a community asset to all the families moving in the vicinity? And more importantly, at a time when climate change and preservation are a point of concern around the globe, what would be a fair dollar value for every tree, every bird and every habitat we want to move for the convenience of our living?

Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink Reporter based in Hamilton.

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