Introduction

The pest-free status of the islands of the eastern Bay of Islands (also known as Ipipiri) is being greatly enhanced by the combined work of landowners, community groups and agencies on the mainland.

The pest-free status of the islands of the eastern Bay of Islands (also known as Ipipiri) is being greatly enhanced by the combined work of landowners, community groups and agencies on the mainland.

This mainland pest-controlled buffer - Project Strip, Project Points and the Te Rawhiti Community Pest Controlled Area (CPCA) - stretches from Rawhiti to Te Huruhi (Dicks Bay). It has been established under the guidance of pest-control experts from the New Zealand Kiwi Foundation (NZKF), Northland Regional Council (NRC) and Department of Conservation (DOC). The buffer not only reduces the chances of reinvasion of the islands of Ipipiri by stoats and rats, but also enhances local natural biodiversity.

Daryl Davis (TREL) preparing the mainland buffer sign. Photo: John Booth. 
Daryl Davis (TREL) preparing the
mainland buffer sign

The Guardians of the Bay of Islands raises funds and co-ordinates the mainland buffer, which has now been fully operational for about two years.

Project Strip

Project Strip is the first line of defence for the pest-free islands and is funded by Eastern Bay of Islands Preservation Society (EBoIPS). Local people from Rawhiti (Ngati Kuta and Patukeha) are employed as trappers by Te Rawhiti Enterprises Ltd (TREL) to service Project Strip.

Project Points

Project Points’ traps and bait stations at Omakiwi, Orokawa, Kokinga and Omarino peninsulas are also serviced about fortnightly, all but those at Orokawa by the landowners’ own trappers or by TREL with funding from the landowner. Orokawa is presently serviced by TREL, largely from DOC grants, but will eventually be funded by the landowners themselves. The Te Rawhiti Peninsula CPCA is also a crucial part of the mainland buffer, established in 2009 by NRC and serviced by locals with financial assistance from the landowners.

According to John Booth (Mainland Pest Control Co-ordinator for EBoIPS), “In the past 12 months, all parts of Projects Strip and Points had high initial bait-take/trap rates. But after the first six months or so, these fell—except on Project Strip where large numbers of rodents, in particular, continued to be trapped. It appears that, except on Project Strip, the desired initial knock-down has been achieved. That means potentially many fewer pests heading towards the pest-free islands of Ipipiri.”

John Booth says, “In just over a year, local people have begun to see more tomtits, tui, and fantails – even some bellbirds in the Project Points and Strip areas. It is tempting to see this as a direct result of our intensive pest control being carried out in this neck of the woods.”

Te Rawhiti Community Pest Controlled Area (CPCA)

Rana Rewha (Te Rawhiti CPCA) next to a regenerating pohutukawa on Rawhiti Peninsula, an area now largely free from possum browsing. Photo: John Booth.
Rana Rewha (Te Rawhiti CPCA) next to
a regenerating pohutukawa on Rawhiti
Peninsula

The Te Rawhiti CPCA , now in its fourth year, has a network of bait stations and kill traps targeting mustelids, rats and possums spread over 460 hectares. This significantly reduces the chance of reinvasion by animal pests to the islands of the eastern Bay.

Northland Regional Council Pest Management Officer Mike Knight, believes that this is one of the most impressive and fastest-growing CPCA’s in the north. “We may have been the first to start on the mainland with the CPCA at the end of the Rawhiti Road, but now we can hardly be seen for the dust! This is all the more remarkable because most of Rawhiti Road has recently been sealed!”

Success

Fleur Corbett, (Chair, Guardians of the Bay of Islands) says, “This mainland pest control project is now well on its way to becoming an ecological restoration project in its own right due to ecological values in the area. The on-going success of the Project Island Song pest-free islands is due to the public checking for animal pest stowaways in boats and gear before leaving the mainland; and the mainland pest-controlled buffer. The buffer’s success is due to the amazing collaboration and support of a wide range of private landowners and caretakers, community groups and agencies such as: Russell Landcare Trust, NZKF, EBoIPS, DOC, NRC, local hapü (Ngati Kuta and Patukeha), the Guardians of the Bay of Islands and most recently, the Far North District Council (FNDC). There is now practically a continuous linking of various forms of pest control from Tapeka to Cape Brett. “

Fleur continues, “We are all looking forward to the day when the birds that used to be in Ipipiri return there under their own steam, or can be helped back. The better we work together at keeping these islands rodent- and stoat-free, and the pest numbers low in the mainland buffer, the sooner that day will come. “

John Clendon (TREL) setting a DOC 200 stoat trap – part of the on-going predator control in the mainland buffer zone. Photo: John Booth.
John Clendon (TREL) setting a DOC 200
stoat trap

Te Rawhiti Enterprises Ltd spokesperson, Robert Willoughby says, “Te Rawhiti community is proud to be a part of Project Island Song in part as it has created employment for our community. The trapping and monitoring work, from Kaimarama Bay along the coastal margin through to Huruhi Bay, is critical to the protection of the islands. Furthermore, both Projects Points and Strip are connected to the Te Rawhiti Peninsula CPCA scheme. This CPCA, together with Nga Whenua Rahui and DOC working with local hapü on pest eradication on the Cape Brett peninsula, has created a formidable mainland coastal pest-controlled zone. The challenge now becomes how we extend that good work and how far back can we push back into the hinterland to create even more protection.” 

Community involvement

Robert says, “Having the support of all these community groups and agencies and private individuals shows just what can be done when groups with a common purpose work together successfully and effectively. Not only does this provide jobs but the community is also dependent on these people. This is particularly important because when hapū, who do not leave the area, commit to bringing back the natural diversity, they also take ownership of it, not just as a job but also as a taonga or spiritual connection (kaitiakitanga) to the land and nature - for it is these things that will sustain them as a people and a culture and the reason why we live here.”

David Mules, DOC’s Community Relations Programme Manager, is impressed by the level of input from hapū, local landowners, residents and volunteer conservation groups, supported by coordinated inter-agency co-operation, “This is an example to us all of the great results that can be achieved when groups such as these are motivated to each contribute their particular skills and resources, working together to achieve a shared vision. It is a model for the future shape of conservation and environmental management in our country.”

Getting involved

Fleur says, “The public can help protect the islands by sponsoring a rat trap which will become part of the mainland buffer defences. For more information call Adriana Rogowski (Project Co-ordinator, ph. 027 290 2180) or go on-line at www.projectislandsong.co.nz.”

Background information

  • Project Island Song - the pest-free islands of the eastern Bay of Islands, is two years old. Eradication of rats, stoats and mice on Motuarohia, Moturua, Motukiekie, Urupukapuka, Waewaetorea and Okahu Islands was carried out in June 2009.
  • Project Strip has 103 rat snap traps, 39 DOC 200 stoat traps, and 34 Timms possum traps along 13.4 km of Rawhiti and Manawaora Roads. The GPS-located traps are cleared and serviced fortnightly (three-weekly in late spring) in line with DOC Best Practice.
  • Between April 2010 and February 2011, 365 rats, 88 mice, 44 possums seven stoats, three weasels, nine other mustelids, and three hedgehogs were caught along Project Strip. 

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