Bringing kākā and kiwi to the Kaitake Range is not a distant dream, but achievable through a multi-tool approach to restoring the biodiversity of this area. Seeing the forest flourish and having native birds like kākā visit gardens in Oakura is a goal we want to achieve.

Our project along with Taranaki Taku Turanga – Towards Predator-Free Taranaki, led by Taranaki Regional Council (TRC), rural and urban areas around the range,

kiwi – Photo Dick Veitch

and the many community groups in the area, are working hard to accomplish this target.

A multi-tool approach to predator control will be conducted with the aim of restoring Kaitake by completely removing possums from forest, rural and urban areas and to prevent re-infestations. The area includes Kaitake to the coast between the Timaru Stream and Oakura River (8,500ha in total). The Taranaki Mounga Project and TRC have been meeting with local hapū, iwi, community and have started engaging some landowners to share information about the predator work and answer any questions.

With nearly 200 DOC200 traps operating and logged on trap.nz, and 16 sensor cameras capturing images of predators throughout the year, a firmer picture is forming as to the locations of pests present on the range. Rats and possums are the main predators captured on the cameras and our August monitoring, using wax tags and tracking tunnels.

The comprehensive network of trapping, plus a zero-possum trial prescription of aerial predator control on the Kaitake Range, will enable the project to target predators in their home range at the same time. It will not be used on any farming or urban areas. In 2018/19 an additional network of over 600 traps will target stoats across all of range.

In rural areas possums and mustelids (ferrets, stoats and weasels) will be targeted using traps with wireless nodes which will alert a landowner’s cellphone when the trap has been set off. An intensive network of over 2,500 wirelessly-monitored traps at Pukeiti will create a ‘virtual barrier’ to defend the Kaitake area from re-infestation.

In August, over 300 people attended a Restore Kaitake event held at the Oakura Hall. It was heartening to see so many locals wanting to get involved in predator control and find out about the tools we are using to aid in this work.

To start or expand trapping in your backyard, order your subsidised traps you can find more information here.

Also check out this story on Kaitake local Pete Morgan and the predator control work he is doing in his own back yard.