Wellington Scoop

Justin wants pest-free capital city, with kiwis, within seven years

News from Justin Lester
Wellington mayoral candidate Justin Lester is pledging to work towards making Wellington a pest free city that could be home to the Brown Kiwi within 7 years.

If elected Lester will lead a coalition of groups including the SPCA, the Halo Project and other community conservation groups to enact a plan to dramatically reduces the city’s predator populations, including rats, stoats, possums, weasels and ferrets.

“With the right leadership, vision and resources Wellington can be the pest free capital of New Zealand,” said Justin Lester.

“It’s an ambitious vision, but we’ve already seen a phenomenal increase in native bird life over the last 25 years due to a concerted effort to reduce pests, so we know it’s achievable.

“It’s estimated there were only six breeding pair of Tui left in Wellington in 1990. We now have thousands, and hundreds of Kaka as well.

“The bird life has been greatly assisted by Zealandia, but an extensive pest eradication scheme implemented by the city and regional council also greatly contributed. It’s time to step up to the next level.

“Wellingtonians love our natural environment and are enjoying seeing native birds return to our suburbs. As Mayor I will ensure the Council steps up its efforts, in partnership with others, so we can have even more native birds in our gardens.

“Under the right conditions it’s realistic to suggest Kiwi could be returned to specific reserves around Wellington where controls against predation are in place.

“Within seven years I’d like to see Kiwi returned to Wellington outside of the Zealandia fence.

“Kiwi were once common in Wellington and in time it is realistic to think we can repopulate Wellington with Kiwi again. Let’s bring back these iconic birds back home to Wellington,” said Justin Lester.

“For many years Wellingtonians have toiled on their properties and in our reserves to welcome back native wildlife into our City,” said Geoff Simmons from the Halo Project

“The idea of having kiwi in our reserves is a great call to arms for people to rally behind and to finish the job of eliminating predators such as rats, weasels and stoats and making sure our pets are well managed. This is visionary stuff that would truly make Wellington the Natural Capital,” said Geoff Simmons.

“Wellington SPCA is excited to support his project. Promoting responsible pet ownership not only improves animal welfare in our community, it helps with conservation efforts like this – everyone wins” said Wellington SPCA Chief Executive Steve Glassey.

“Areas like Polhill Gully and Makara Peak, where sophisticated and well-monitored trapping programmes have been put in place, would be ideal spearheads, spreading south through Carey’s Gully and Te Kopahau to the coast,” said Paul Ward from the Polhill Restoration Group.

“Stoat control has seen Kiwi successfully reintroduced by the Rimutaka Forest Park Trust into the Orongorongo Valley, which is now home to a population of over 100 Kiwi.

“Thanks to the Zealandia and community and council pest control, we’ve had Tieke nesting in Polhill for the past two years. A generation ago these birds were exiled to a couple of predator free islands off Northland. Now they’re back in the wild in Wellington’s backyard, for the first time in a century, five minutes from Willis Street,” said Paul Ward.

Read also
Jo wants Wellington to be free of pests


  1. Mark Shanks, 6. July 2016, 12:51

    “Wellingtonians love our natural environment…” then let’s not extend the airport runway or dredge a 7km x 100m trench at the entrance of the harbour.

  2. CPH, 6. July 2016, 19:12

    Which planet is Justin Lester on? The Department of Conservation has responsibility for wildlife and the GWRC has responsibility for pest control. WCC has nothing to do with either. If he wants to stand for election to the regional council or be employed by DOC he should go off and do that, rather than promising to waste ratepayers’ money with this sort of empty posturing.

  3. CC, 6. July 2016, 22:25

    CPH – I think you will find that WCC has now inherited pest control from the Regional Council. That being the case, it can be expected that unless the 1000+ environmental volunteers step up even higher, it is likely that funding cuts will compromise the pest eradication and regeneration work that has been done by the GWRC over recent decades. Unlike with the 32 and increasing number of Council Parking Wardens, the four Rangers (one per 1000 hectares of Council reserves) do not provide a financially profitable revenue stream. Also, the Parks & Reserves budget is becoming so lean that contractors never seem to do little more maintenance than an infrequent quick once-over. So – a kiwi outside the Karori Sanctuary is little more than a feel-good vote enticer from a disingenuous mayoral aspirant who, if successful, will be controlled by the business sector and the WCC CEO, not the active environmentalists. That said, it is pleasing to see the successes of volunteers at Polehill and Crofton Downs and the prospect that Khandallah is now in scope for volunteer trapping operations. These initiatives are understood to be partially financed by the Morgan Foundation – not the Council.

  4. Pest, 6. July 2016, 23:45


  5. Ellie, 7. July 2016, 9:44

    Depends on your definition of pest. Some Councillors may be ‘in the gun.’ Certainly some on GRWC.

  6. Ian Apperley, 7. July 2016, 9:57


  7. Sekhmet Bast Ra, 8. July 2016, 4:42

    Right now he’s just panda-ing to the tiny fraction of rich eccentric eco-nutcase economists who think they can control society.

    If this turkey gets lucky and has his way with the kiwi, fair chance it will be panda-monium when the Council tells all of the people who keep dogs that they have to keep them indoors because of the threat to the precious re-introduced urban kiwi.

    Once the airport runway extension is completed at ratepayers’ expense, pandas might well be flown in direct from China also at ratepayers’ expense. (Subsidy per panda from the Destination Wellington slush fund.)

  8. Bob, 8. July 2016, 13:19

    Would you prefer he pandas to the tiny fraction of feline loving, social welfare using nutcases who think they can control society? Oh wow, look at that. We are both so stereotypical in our outlooks…

  9. Paul Estoc, 8. July 2016, 13:21

    Justin is beating a dead horse with this one. Especially in Wellington where the no 1 predator of birdlife (and pretty much everthing else smaller than it) is the ever popular house cat. Cannot see him having the support to ban cats, or register/chip them.
    Maybe he could get Gareth Morgan as his running mate on a no moggies in our parks platform – should add some colour to this rather boring election campaign