Making Waiheke a haven for native wildlife

Publish Date : 04 Oct 2019

Across the waters of the Waitematā Harbour and in the heart of the Hauraki Gulf is Waiheke Island, home to 9000 people and much of New Zealand's precious native wildlife.

In the past, that wildlife has come under threat from pests like stoats, ferrets and weasels. For a number of years now, locals and community groups have banded together to implement pest control solutions with great success.

Native wildlife has even increased in numbers over recent years thanks to the locals' efforts.

Making Waiheke a haven for native wildlife
Tui on Waiheke. Photo Credit: Pete Rees Photography

In September 2017, The Waiheke Collective was established to work as a network aiming to support and amplify those conservation efforts around Waiheke Island.

The Collective is made up of a number of organisations, including the Hauraki Gulf Conservation Trust, the Waiheke Resources Trust, Auckland Council, Native Bird Rescue, and Forest & Bird's Hauraki Islands branch.

The collective has since established Te Korowai o Waiheke Trust which aims to turn Waiheke into the world's first predator-free urban island.

"It's because of the locals' hard work on and around Waiheke that we feel pest eradication is possible. Our job is to take that work to the next level," says Mary Frankham, Te Korowai o Waiheke's project director, of the Trust's big goal.

"We're choosing to focus on mustelids like stoats and weasels as our first priority because of the hugely significant impact they can have on our native wildlife," she adds.

January 2020 will see the Trust embark on a two-year stoat eradication project focusing specifically on mustelids which will see the setting up of a large trapping network spanning the island. That network will have one trap for every six hectares of land, adding up to approximately 1,500 traps across the whole of Waiheke.

"We'll then follow it up with two years of monitoring to confirm that the island is stoat, weasel and ferret free," Mary explains of the project.

In 2018, the programme received a $2.85 million injection in funding from Auckland Council via the Natural Environment Targeted Rate.

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