Predator Free Rakiura aims to completely remove possums, rats, feral cats and hedgehogs from Stewart Island/Rakiura.
Stewart Island/Rakiura is an island of untouched landscapes, remote wilderness and distinctive ecosystems. The Rakiura National Park was established in 2002 and covers 85% (157,000 ha) of the island making it a strong contender for becoming predator free.
The island has never had mustelids (stoats, weasels and ferrets) and it has no goats, pigs or mice. Despite this, the bird life on the island is declining and in some places Stewart Island has fewer birds than forested mainland sites.
The Predator Free Rakiura Group was formed in 2013 and its long gestation reflects the reality of working on an inhabited island. In 2018 the group employed a Project Manager-Community for Predator Free Rakiura with a strong community focus, with the priorities stakeholder engagement and opportunity planning. The role is designed to increase the momentum behind the project.
In July 2019 a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by members of the Predator Free Rakiura Leadership Group, which includes the four papatipu rūnanga of Murihiku, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, the Rakiura Māori Lands Trust, the Rakiura Tītī Islands Administering Body, the Rakiura Tītī Committee, DOC, the Southland District Council, Environment Southland, Real Journeys, and the New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association.
Ngāi Tahu is firmly behind the project. There are many Tītī Islands off the coast of Rakiura. 70 percent of the Tītī Islands are now predator free, and the iwi attribute the high re-invasion to predators coming across from mainland Rakiura.
Read more predator free stories about Rakiura/Stewart Island:
Find our more on the Predator Free Rakiura project webpage.