South Island Kākā, Stewart Island / Rakiura
Image: Jake Osborne | Creative Commons

Introduction

The vision of Predator Free Rakiura is to grow Rakiura / Stewart Island as a taonga (treasure). By working together, ecosystems and communities can thrive and benefit one another.

Highlights

Stewart Island/Rakiura is an island of untouched landscapes, remote wilderness and distinctive ecosystems. It has internationally significant dunes and some of New Zealand’s most pristine freshwater systems. 

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Predator Free Rakiura is an ambitious project that aims to remove rats, possums, feral cats and hedgehogs from Rakiura/Stewart Island and its islands. These predators eat or compete with wildlife, damage vegetation and threaten the survival of our native species.

Predator Free Rakuira is a non-profit alliance led in collaboration by iwi, government, businesses and community members. It's referred to as the Predator Free Rakiura Leadership Group.

How Predator Free Rakuira will benefit wildlife and communities

Community, visitors and wildlife are all connected in this area. So the benefits include wildlife protection, forest health and social and economic advantages.

Native birds such as Stewart Island kiwi / Rakiura tokoeka, kākā, penguins, parakeets / kākāriki and NZ pigeons / kereru are all found in Halfmoon Bay township. The township is surrounded by a pristine coastline and over 90 islands.

Protecting these through predator freedom can help to sustain the local community through employment, infrastructure and high-end nature tourism. This makes the benefits of predator freedom widespread.

How predator freedom will benefit Rakuira in the future

A Predator Free Rakiura can protect our native taonga for generations to come. It will enable nature and community to thrive together by enjoying the benefits of a restored Rakiura.

Culturally, a healthy Rakiura is kaitiakitanga in action and a legacy for our children. It could also become a large-scale haven for species in need of a safe home, such as kākāpō and takahē.

Achieving our vision for New Zealand’s third largest island would be a big step towards achieving a Predator Free New Zealand by 2050. Learn more.

Project aims and work by DOC

A predator removal project of this size and complexity has never been achieved before. That means the work is challenging and complex, but worth it.

Together the Leadership Group have developed a suite of values and principles that underpin the vision. Work towards the vision has been divided into five main phases: prepare, secure, restore, protect and thrive:

Work by DOC

DOC supports the project vision and contributes through species recovery, island biosecurity and visitor education. We also undertake predator control work across multiple areas on and around Rakiura including:

Tiwai peninsula pest control: We aim to control predators of ground-nesting birds. We also aim to minimise browsing impacts on sensitive ecosystems like the coastal turf fields at Tiwai. Learn more.

Possum control: DOC undertakes cyclical control over nearly 32,000ha on the mainland. They also maintain possum exculsion across three large islands near Port Pegasus/Pikihatiti: Pearl, Anchorage and Noble Islands. 

This work enables forest ecosystems to thrive. This helps forests to have a with healthy canopies, and birds and invertebrates increase in survival rates. It also increases bird nesting success.

Protecting island sanctuaries: DOC directly manages three pest-free island sanctuaries near the main island of Rakiura. This includes biosecurity surveillance and incursion response.

  • Codfish Island/Whenua Hou is a nature reserve primarily used to manage a breeding programme for the critically endangered kākāpō. It’s also a sanctuary for a range of other threatened species.
  • Bench Island/Waitaua is a nature reserve sanctuary for invertebrates, coastal plant species and hoiho.
  • Ulva Island/Te Wharawhara is an open access sanctuary for a threatened birds and plant species. It’s one of Rakiura’s major tourist attractions. 

Southern NZ Dotterel Recovery Programme: This programme includes a variety of projects that aim to save critically threatened dotterels.

A major component of the programme is a multi-species predator control project. It aims to suppress the number of predators who kill or destroy dotterel adults, chicks and eggs. Learn more.

Reducing rats on Native Island: Native Island is covered with a grid of Good Nature A24 self-resetting traps. These aim to reduce the rats to low levels and reduce the impact of their regular arrivals from the main island only about 60 m away. 

DOC is one of many contributors who are undertaking current predator control and biosecurity work. Learn about other contributors.

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