Eliminating rats, stoats and weasels from the Miramar Peninsula was an epic collective effort.
The project relied on the support of 20,000 locals, and involved almost every business, school and kindergarten, every third household, hundreds of volunteers, Predator Free Miramar, technical experts, and our foundation partners Greater Wellington Regional Council, Wellington City Council, Predator Free 2050 Ltd, NEXT Foundation and Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika.
We are extremely proud to present this video as a marker of that milestone.
Now that we have got over the hurdle of how we do this, it’s a matter of moving across Wellington, starting with Phase 2, moving west from the airport and stretching from Ōwhiro Bay to Wellington’s CBD.
We’re making Wellington the world’s first predator free capital city, a place where our native species and communities can thrive.
This involves the commitment of thousands – households, community groups and organisations are all working together to remove every single rat, possum, stoat and weasel from the entire Wellington area.
This project is special because we have moved beyond the fences and offshore islands, and are paving the way to living alongside these precious taonga by centering our project in a city where 212,000 people live, work and play, every day.
We are a charitable organisation supported by Wellington City Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council, NEXT Foundation, Predator Free 2050 Ltd and Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust.
New Zealand is internationally recognised as a biodiversity hotspot with 80,000 endemic species but we also have the highest proportion of threatened indigenous species, with an estimated 68,000 native birds killed by introduced predators every night. For 85 million years Aotearoa New Zealand was geologically isolated making our native species incredibly unique but equally as vulnerable. Since rats, stoats and possums were introduced either through the arrival of settlers or for intentional purposes (such as fur trading), they have pushed our taonga to the brink of extinction. By eliminating these predators from our whenua (land) we give our manu (birds), invertebrates (such as wētā), and lizards (including skinks and geckos), a fighting chance to survive.
In 2016, it was decided that we need to act now to “protect our native species, improve biodiversity, create greater ecological resilience and restore unique ecosystems” (PF2050) – so the Predator Free 2050 ‘moonshot mission’ was set. As part of this goal, our project is working to solve the urban piece of the puzzle and it’s one of 18 large landscape projects around the country focused on the ambitious but critical mission to progressively eliminate Aotearoa New Zealand of introduced predators by 2050.
In Wellington specifically, it was commonly cited that there were only 10 pairs of tūi and kererū left in the city in the 1980’s. Fast forward to today and the predator free movement is making a phenomenal difference. Wellington is bucking global trends and rewilding in front of our eyes with tūī, kākā and kererū now a daily sight for our tamariki! As well as significant ecological outcomes, we’re turning the tide on the sunk costs associated with long term predator control methods and creating positive social impact through equitable involvement, wellbeing benefits and greater community cohesion.
Our project area encompasses 30,000 ha and an estimated 70,000 households. It stretches around from Miramar Peninsula, across to the south-west corner of Mākara and up to a boundary that follows the SH1 motorway through to the border with Porirua City.
Across this area we have 58 community trapping groups – that’s one for every suburb in Wellington and most of the reserves in between. Some of these volunteer groups have been active long before our organisation first began in 2018 and by handing out backyard traps to their neighbours, are helping to drive down rat populations. It is because of trappers ongoing efforts and the spill-over from the ZEALANDIA Te Māra a Tāne ecosanctuary in Karori that we are already witnessing a rewilding. As we move sequentially throughout the 5 consecutive phases based on a remove and protect model, we seek permissions from households, businesses and landowners to overlay an intensive elimination network of elimination devices, in order to get predator populations to zero.
- Miramar (phase 1): Phase 1 is complete! The first phase involved eliminating rats, weasels and stoats from Miramar Peninsula. This was chosen as our initial area of focus because it’s been possum free since 2006 and as a peninsula, is more easily defendable from predator reinvasion with the Wellington Airport acting as a natural barrier.
- Island Bay to CBD (phase 2): The second (and current) phase houses sections of the Wellington town belt, CBD and suburbia. Having gathered all the necessary permissions from residents and landowners to host a trap or bait station, this is now our active oeprational area and we are installing and servicing devices in a suburb-by-suburb approach. If you live in Phase 2, you can sign up now!
- Phase 3, 4 & 5: Incorporates both central city as well as more rural terrain, with a mixture of farmland wind farms and regenerating forest. In these latter phases we will work closely with our friends at the Capital Kiwi project as well as coordinating with Porirua City control efforts as we near the upper border.