Opportunity for the North
Last week I made an announcement with Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage that provides a big opportunity for the Far North. We announced that the Provincial Growth Fund is going to support efforts in regions like the Far North to rid our forests and farmlands of predators that prey on native wildlife, particularly nga¯ manu, our native birds.
We are giving $19.5 million to Predator Free New Zealand 2050, the operational arm for the goal of reaching predator-free status by 2050. They will use that money to fund two things.
Firstly, we are asking them to support large community-led predator eradication projects in areas that are high priorities for particular regions.
These will be managed by regional or local government, iwi, hapu¯, community groups or partnerships made up of these groups and organisations.
Predator Free New Zealand 2050 is already supporting large-scale predator eradication projects in different parts of the country, including the most ambitious, in Taranaki, which aims to make the whole province predator-free by 2050.
The PGF money will not pay all the costs of a project, but will provide significant support, along with funding from regional and local government, iwi, hapu¯, community groups and the private sector to rid the project area of predators.
Predator Free New Zealand will be seeking expressions of interest in projects that can be supported with this money. They can be contacted at www.predatorfreenz. org.
Secondly, the money from the Provincial Growth Fund will be used to support innovation in predator control. Because we have had to confront major problems with predators, New Zealand is a world leader in finding tools that can eradicate them. We want this research extended.
My colleagues and I in New Zealand First are excited by this, because new approaches will allow us to reduce the use of 1080. Once an area has been cleared of rats, stoats and possums using 1080, predatorfree status can be maintained without its ongoing use.
This chemical has been and will continue to be a very valuable tool to help us protect our bird life, but we are also aware that some members of our community oppose its use. This funding boost will give even more momentum to our development of sophisticated tools that can complement the use of 1080 and, over time, reduce our need to use this tool for some purposes.
We expect the regions that can develop projects to attract funding will see large areas become predator-free. And new methods of eradication and ongoing control will extend the number of tools in the toolbox we use to regenerate the native plants and wildlife that are a central part of our identity.
The opportunities this infusion of support from the Provincial Growth Fund provides must be taken seriously by the Far North.
"We expect the regions that can develop projects to attract funding will see large areas become predatorfree."