Wellington Scoop

6500 households involved with Predator Free Wellington

Press Release – Wellington City Council
Wellington has seen a huge increase in wildlife in recent years while more and more Wellingtonians are getting involved in making our city predator free.

Already, over 6,500 households are actively involved in trapping across the city, and the Wellington City Council is supporting over 30 volunteer groups who are checking many of the 2,900 traps set in council reserves.

An astounding 34,900 predators have been caught in recent years – at least 24,400 in backyards and over 10,500 in the city’s parks and reserves. That is more predators caught than the number of seats in the Westpac Stadium.

Now Wellington City Council and Predator Free Wellington want to better understand who is involved and what people think about the Predator Free Wellington project. When we first surveyed Wellingtonians in 2017, we found 84% were supportive of ridding the city of rats, stoats, weasels and possums. The initial survey also found that more than two out of three residents are willing to be actively involved in the project.

We are calling on Wellington residents to complete the short online survey (5-10 minutes) and go in the draw to win 1 of 5 X $50 New World supermarket vouchers.

Predator Free Wellington Project Director James Willcocks is excited about the amount of support from the Wellington community: “We are constantly amazed by the number of people involved in the project. Every day I hear stories of more people getting involved, who has caught the biggest rat, or the incredible lizards and birds turning up in people’s backyards. Whether you are trapping or not, we are keen to get your views on the project so we can make sure what we are doing is well understood and continues to be well supported by Wellingtonians.”

The City Council’s Predator Free Wellington Portfolio Leader, Councillor Andy Foster, is a keen trapper himself. He is impressed at the initial outcomes of the project.

“People are noticing the return of native birds and lizards to their backyards, and ecological surveys are confirming that native fauna is definitely on the increase in Wellington. We have seen massive increases in tui, kākā, kererū and kākāriki in Wellington in recent years, off the back of council and community pest control, and habitat protection and restoration.”

“Becoming predator free is the next major step in our city’s environmental restoration journey and builds on over 25 years of land protection, active and natural revegetation, and the great work of Zealandia, our councils and thousands of community volunteers in reserves. Now there is a lot of planning, research and community engagement as we prepare to eradicate rats and mustelids from Miramar peninsula,” he adds.

Currently, the predator free focus is on eradicating rats, weasels and stoats from the Miramar Peninsula along with a long-term strategy for extending this throughout Wellington City. The Miramar Peninsula was chosen as the initial area of focus as it has been possum free since 2006, and as a peninsula is more easily defendable from predator reinvasion.

While work proceeds in Miramar, the project and its partners Wellington City Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council and the NEXT Foundation, will continue to support predator control in reserves and backyards across the city, especially surrounding wildlife hotspots around Zealandia, Otari Wilton’s Bush and Khandallah Park.


  1. Curtis Antony Nixon, 18. February 2019, 15:13

    It’s time to move on from pest animals to pest plants. Wellington’s parks and reserves are full of invasive exotics like sycamore, flowering cherry, old man’s beard, wilding pines, elaeagnus, climbing asparagus, Darwin’s barberry, and many more. These trees form monocultures that crowd out native plant species, and old man’s beard smothers everything. We also need to have a conversation about karaka which, even though it is a New Zealand native, is not native to Wellington and it forms solid groves that choke everything else out.

  2. greenwelly, 18. February 2019, 17:20

    We also need to have a conversation about karaka

    Be careful of the box you may be opening, there are a number of NZ trees that are not native to the Wellington region and Pohutukawa is probably the most widespread…I suspect there would be a singular response to any moves to restrict its planting, (as demonstrated by the WCC when they put them down the Quays)

  3. Andy Foster, 18. February 2019, 20:10

    Hi Curtis and Greenwelly
    It isn’t time to move on from targeting animal pests to targeting invasive plants. It is definitely time to do both. That doesn’t mean being purist about removing every non Wellington native (as if there are the resources to do that anyway) and why would we remove street pohutukawa ? They aren’t invading the bush are they ? There are a sizeable number of introduced plant species that are particular problems – because they spread fast, out-compete natives, cover the ground and prevent regeneration, climb as vines around native plants.
    We have something like 140 community groups looking after reserves around Wellington. I recently set up Karori Kaitiaki Inc (KAKA) and we are already getting stuck into weed and rubbish removal (and replanting) in the many reserves and streams in Karori. I am keen to help set up other groups where there are gaps.
    What can everyone do ?
    1 – stop any dumping of garden waste into bush areas – that is a source of further infestations.
    2 – get to know invasive weed species and how best to remove them – and then do it in your garden, road reserve, or when you are out for a walk.
    3 – get involved in a community group looking after reserves in your area. It is a job worth doing, a great way of strengthening communities and making friends, and you will learn a lot by doing it !

  4. aom, 18. February 2019, 22:52

    A wise comment as usual greenwelly. One of the problems is for ‘amateur’ environmentalists to be able to identify what is endemic, the native species that are not likely to be too problematic like various Pohutukawa and Kowhai species and the local disasters like Karo, Karaka and Lacebark. The related issue is removing undesirable introduced natives and exotics as listed by Curtis, as the Council doesn’t seem to have the resources to do the job and volunteers are neither trained nor approved to do the business.

  5. Heidi P, 19. February 2019, 6:47

    Local wildlife in this urban city was thriving before the inception of the program. And oh dear God will you leave the Karaka & Pohutukawa alone, you don’t have to label and kill/ban everything that is not ” native” .

  6. Guy M, 19. February 2019, 8:04

    To me, one of the great NZ sounds of summer is that of the massed chorus of cicada singing, blasting out their Zzzzzz Zzzzzz as they advertise for a mate. In a way, much like the sound of Courtenay Place on a Saturday night, and fulfilling much the same purpose. Pohutukawa may not, in theory, be the “correct” tree for Wellington, but no one has told the cicada that – it is noticeable how much louder the noise of cicada is from each old pohutukawa, than from other native species. Plus, they look fantastic at Christmas, so what’s not to like?

    Plant more pohutukawa, everywhere, and not that silly bred variety with just one central stalk. Go for the full multi-trunked craziness of a genuine pohutukawa, and wait for the audiovisual feast in years to come.

  7. Farmer Bill, 19. February 2019, 9:10

    Shane Jones is one big possum out of control with our money! And in California – the Pohutukawa is listed as an invasive weed and sprayed to death whereas the Monterey Pine (Pinus Radiata) is endangered whereas over here it grows like Billy oh! Humans are weird and have been ever since the invention of lists.

  8. Katy Mansfield, 19. February 2019, 9:13

    Saw a cute enclave of rats near a government building last week – I won’t say which building because the eco-Darleks will be round with poison and traps before you can say ‘Non-indigenous Creatures must be Exterminated’.

  9. Mike Mellor, 19. February 2019, 9:16

    Heidi: “Local wildlife in this urban city was thriving before the inception of the program” – only if by local you mean non-native. Fortunately predator-free initiatives mean that native wildlife is starting to come back, and that is excellent.

  10. Richard M., 19. February 2019, 9:19

    I like cherry trees! Good on the Botanical Garden and good on all the home gardeners for planting lots of them in Wellington. The birds love their fruit too.

    Let’s have more variety of trees planted. Planting solely natives is just so green and boring! Humans are part of nature so let’s spread eco-diversity all over Aotearoa.

  11. aom, 19. February 2019, 10:59

    Heidi – Pohutukawa trees aren’t too much of a problem as they are a coastal species that doesn’t usually survive in Wellington’s stands of endemic vegetation. Karaka is another beast altogether. It, like some other non-endemic NZ species rapidly destroys the vast areas of regenerative planting that is being done around the city. It would be helpful if you contacted one of the restoration groups and did a bit of time on the ground with the numerous volunteers who are trying to improve the natural environment.

  12. Lyndon B., 19. February 2019, 11:16

    aom – I think you mean ‘change’ the natural environment to what you think it should be.

  13. aom, 19. February 2019, 12:51

    Lyndon B. – are you meaning that the natural environment is the one that has been damagingly changed by the fly-dumping of noxious weeds and the ill-considered planting of invasive exotics? There are plenty of areas around Wellington which have gone down the road of natural regeneration that, apart from removal of introduced weed species like tradescantia, climbing dock, eleagnus etc. only require reintroduction of endemic species to provide natural seeding of species that have become rare due to changes wrought by human removal. Of course, if you are one of the thousands of environmental volunteers, you know that endemic regeneration is far more rewarding than playing semantic games.

  14. Lyndon B., 19. February 2019, 16:03

    aom – you pick what you want as ‘good plants and critters’ and get tax payer funding to kill what you don’t want. I’ll just watch the madness of humans from the suburbs!

  15. Curtis Antony Nixon, 19. February 2019, 16:54

    @greenwelly. You might notice that I didn’t include pohutukawa or karo in my list of non-Wellington natives (what is the proper term for this?) They don’t form invasive mono-cultures that crowd out the local natives. For the same reason I don’t believe in trying to control gorse, broom, tree lucerne or boneseed. You need to chose your battles and shrubs that can be out-grown by bigger trees will naturally disappear over time.

    But karaka grows by seed and by sending out runners, and forms dense stands that nothing else can compete with. It is a tree that can out-shade everything. If you look below the Southern walkway in the vicinity of Wellington Rd there is a serious stand of it that the council needs to remove.

    And let’s not forget that magpies attack tuis and other native birds and wasps kill everything so these need controlling too.

  16. TrevorH, 20. February 2019, 7:53

    Why are the Greens blocking the only technology that could humanely and safely render New Zealand “predator-free”? It has been reported that Eugenie Sage has written to Predator-Free New Zealand forbidding the use of anything verging on GE technology. So instead of immunocontraception for example we supposed are to poison our forests and use brutal traps? Don’t come knocking on my door to deploy these vile things when far more effective alternatives are ruled out for ideological reasons.

  17. Katy Mansfield, 20. February 2019, 11:12

    TrevorH – well said but there remains the question as to whether we should be exterminating all small furry mammals anyway. I’m totally against total extermination.