Port Pegasus, Stewart Island/Rakiura

Image: DOC


Predator Free Rakiura aims to eradicate possums, rats, feral cats and hedgehogs from Stewart Island/Rakiura.


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. 

The island has never had mustelids, such as stoats, and it has no goats, pigs or mice.

Why make Stewart Island/Rakiura predator free?

By removing the introduced predators that prey on birds, Stewart Island/Rakiura would become New Zealand’s largest bird sanctuary.

This would allow the recovery of once-common species such as saddleback/tīeke, New Zealand robin/toutouwai and New Zealand dotterel/tūturiwhatu. The jewel in the crown would be the return of kākāpō.

Vision and values

The vision is to grow Stewart Island/Rakiura and its adjoining islands as a taonga – by working collaboratively towards predator free lands that allow ecosystems and community to thrive and benefit from each other.

The following values underpin the vision:

  • collaboration of all the stakeholders affected and/or willing to contribute
  • application of the latest science and technology
  • building the project in a way that interlinks environmental, social and economic benefits
  • honouring our cultural history, Mo tatou, a, mo ka uri a muri ake nei – for us and for generations to come.


The group's purpose is to address these critical issues:

  1. Assess ways of removing feral cats, rats, possums and hedgehogs
  2. Understand how achieving Predator Free Rakiura will impact on the community, in terms of risks and opportunities
  3. Shape a proposal that is supported by the community for presentation to potential funders.


Critical issue 1: Assess ways of removing feral cats, rats, possums and hedgehogs

The group addressed the first critical issue by commissioning the following reports about Halfmoon Bay:

  • Project Summary
  • Methods for predator removal
  • Analysis of options for proposed predator fence
  • Biosecurity options.

Download the reports at Predator Free Rakiura.

Critical issue 2: Understand how achieving Predator Free Rakiura will impact on the community, in terms of risks and opportunities

The second critical issue is informed by a Social Impact Assessment (SIA). DOC funded the SIA on behalf of the leadership group. An SIA is the process used to predict, analyse, monitor and manage the social effects of a proposed project or programme.

The work was led by the University of Auckland and involved conducting research to:

  • build a social profile of the island population and community
  • identify key stakeholders (on and off the island), issues and effects to address in the assessment stage
  • develop an engagement plan with priorities recommended
  • engage with community members and identified key stakeholders
  • provide a detailed analysis and recommendations for addressing key issues.

Predator Free Rakiura Social Impact Assessment (SIA) (PDF, 1,047K)

What next?

The leadership group is committed to achieving their purpose and addressing the recommendations set out in the SIA.

This will be achieved by:

  • establishing a project manager/community liaison role
  • building stronger ties between all environmentally focused groups on the island
  • telling the story of how projects led by these groups and DOC are contributing towards the goal of Predator Free Rakiura
  • illustrating what biosecurity measures might look like
  • developing a socially acceptable proposal for potential funders.

History and leadership group

Over the years, many people have expressed a wish to rid Stewart Island/Rakiura of pests. In 2008, the Stewart Island/Rakiura Community and Environment Trust (SIRCET), supported by the Tindall Foundation, funded an investigation to see if the idea could be made real.

The Predator Free Rakiura Leadership Group was formed as a result of the investigation. 

The group includes:

  • local community members
  • fishing/aquaculture industry members
  • Ngāi Tahu iwi
  • Deer Stalkers Association
  • tourism operators
  • Rakiura Māori Lands Trust
  • Southland District Council
  • Environment Southland
  • Rakiura Tītī Islands Administering Body
  • Rakiura Tītī Committee
  • DOC.

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