The Department of Conservation (DOC) has committed $1 million over 12 months, with up to $5 million on the table over the next five years for the Predator Free Rakiura (PFR) group.
PFR chairperson Paul Norris says the funding is a significant milestone, which enables the group to move the project to the next phase – planning and design.
“This is wonderful news for all those who want a predator-free Rakiura and a huge milestone for our group. The funding will be used to understand what is required to achieve eradication on Rakiura. If successful, Rakiura will be the biggest predator-free island in New Zealand and will lead the way for the rest of the country.”
This years’ funding will be used to establish a strong governance structure, kick-start project design and develop a project plan, Paul says.
Predator Free Rakiura is an ambitious goal to rid the island of introduced predators – rats, possums, feral cats, and hedgehogs. The island is home to more than 20 threatened species whose long-term survival is under threat due to predation. It’s also one of the most complex projects of its type anywhere in the world.
It’s driven by a diverse group representing local iwi, central and local government agencies, representatives of hunting and recreational groups and members of the community. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed in July 2019 by 13 signatories indicating a strong support for the Predator Free Rakiura vision.
Te Runaka O Awarua Kaiwhakahaere Dean Whaanga says Predator Free Rakiura is a forward-thinking goal.
“In a generation’s time, to have Rakiura predator-free and the manu and biodiversity thriving, will be a wonderful accomplishment not only for Aotearoa but for the world.”
DOC partnerships director Barry Hanson says a Predator Free Rakiura would take New Zealand another step closer to the Predator Free 2050 goal.
“The Predator Free Rakiura concept has been around for many years and resonates with so many people. Rakiura could truly become a haven for so many special taonga species – such as kakapo – and in turn will provide benefits to the local community.
“We don’t know what we don’t know yet – this phase is all about finding that out. As we learn more, and more people and groups get on board and partner with it, Predator Free Rakiura will truly help pave the way for the rest of New Zealand.
“It’s not something any one group can do alone, and together, we’re excited to be moving to the next phase.”