Conservation dogs at work
Image: Joe Kelly, Kiwibank | ©


From 2016 to 2022, DOC and Kiwibank joined forces for a predator free 2050 by unleashing the Conservation Dogs Programme, critical to helping find protected species and unwanted pests.

Signed in September 2016, the six-year partnership enabled the Conservation Dogs Programme to undertake more surveillance, quarantine and advocacy work. The partnership also supported the Conservation Dogs Schools Programme.

DOC Kiwibank logo.


    The partnership supported the Conservation Dogs Programme by enabling the employment of four full-time pest detection dog handler teams and a Senior Advisor for species detection dogs.

    For DOC, this provided enhanced capacity for biosecurity/quarantine checks, surveillance and incursion response, alongside increased training and assessment capability for newer handlers.  New Zealand was the first country to use dogs to benefit conservation as far back as the 1890s, now our world leading Conservation Dogs are protecting our special sites and taonga species nationwide.

    This crucial work wouldn’t be possible without national partners walking the talk by investing in what is good for Aotearoa, and what is good for all New Zealanders. Our highly trained four-legged conservationists and their handlers do incredible work locating threatened species like the kākāpō, kiwi and takahe, as well as tracking down the predators that threaten them.

    Pest Free Islands and Sanctuaries

    Working together has helped DOC strengthen its island biosecurity programme. So far we’ve been able to double the amount of biosecurity/quarantine to check for pests and other unwanted hitch-hikers to pest-free islands and sanctuaries as well as surveillance work. Thanks to the success of this partnership, conservation dog handler teams have had a greater presence at ferry terminals, boat ramps and marinas, helping detect pests and educate boat owners and travelers about the need to watch out for stowaways.

    Conservation Dogs Schools Programme

    During the partnership, Kiwibank and DOC committed to doing what’s best for Papatūānuku, and for our future generations. With biodiversity in crisis, we know that it’s integral to equip our rangatahi with the knowledge to lead in conservation. With the support of Kiwibank Dog Handler Teams we have been able to visit hundreds of schools linking to New Zealand Curriculum levels 1–4 (years 1–8). 

    Predator Free 2050

    Funding is also helping to strengthen an advocacy programme to promote greater awareness as we work toward a predator free Aotearoa by 2050. This means the Conservation Dog Handler Teams can have a presence at community events to make sure protecting our natural environment is both easy to see, and easy to do for people of all ages.

    Kiwibank leading the way

    Media releases related to this partnership

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