Otago Daily Times

Predator eradicatio­n to get cash


MILLIONS of dollars have been earmarked for a project to make Stewart Island predator free.

It was announced to locals of the island last night that the Department of Conservati­on (Doc) had committed $1 million over 12 months, with up to $5 million on the table over the next five years.

Predator Free Rakiura chairman Paul Norris said the funding was a significan­t milestone which enabled the group to move the project to the next phase, planning and design.

‘‘This is wonderful news for all those who want a predatorfr­ee Rakiura and a huge milestone for our group. The funding will be used to understand what is required to achieve eradicatio­n on Rakiura.

‘‘If successful, Rakiura will be the biggest predatorfr­ee island in New Zealand and will lead the way for the rest of the country.’’

This year’s funding would be used to establish a strong governance structure, begin project design and develop a project plan, Mr Norris said.

Predator Free Rakiura aimed to rid the island, home to 20 threatened species, of introduced predators such as rats, possums, feral cats and hedgehogs.

The group included representa­tives from local iwi, central and local government agencies, hunting and recreation­al groups and the community.

Te Runaka O Awarua kaiwhakaha­ere Dean Whaanga said achieving a predatorfr­ee island was a forwardthi­nking goal.

‘‘In a generation’s time, to have Rakiura predator free and the manu and biodiversi­ty thriving, will be a wonderful accomplish­ment — not only for Aotearoa but for the world.’’

Doc partnershi­ps director Barry Hanson said it would take New Zealand another step closer to its goal to be predator free by 2050.

‘‘Rakiura could truly become a haven for so many special taonga species — such as kakapo — and in turn will provide benefits to the local community.’’

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